Recently I had the privilege of interviewing author Catherine West on her debut novel Yesterday’s Tomorrow. Catherine has graciously offered to give away a paperback copy of her book. If you want a chance to win, leave a comment on this post, or the book review coming out tomorrow. Next week I’ll announce the winner!
Leave a Comment–Win a Free Book
Yesterday’s Tomorrow follows a journalist and a photographer as they struggle to find love in the midst of the Vietnam war, and deal with the tragedies they inevitably face. Join me as I learn from author Catherine West about what it was like to write the book.
BH: Where did you get the idea for your Vietnam love story Yesterday’s Tomorrow?
CW: I’ve always found that era fascinating, and I found the concept of a female journalist traveling to a war zone intriguing. I thought about what might happen to her, who she’d meet, and it went from there.
BH: How much research did the story involve? Did you interview Vietnam veterans? Tell us some interesting facts you learned along the way.
CW: I did a lot of research! It took about a year, but I researched and wrote at the same time. I spent a lot of time reading first-hand accounts from veterans, visiting blogs and websites dedicated to The Vietnam War, and studying photographs. There were several excellent books I read over again to really get a feel for what it was like there as a journalist, and as a soldier. I have listed all my resources at the back of the book. I had the great fortune to be in touch with a Vietnam Vet, David Goudge. He was instrumental in helping me get my facts straight and bringing authenticity to the story.
Everything I learned was interesting since I knew little about the war. It was especially eye-opening to read the personal accounts of those who were there, and it certainly gave me a new sense of gratitude and admiration for all those who served, and still do.
BH: I’d love to know about your writing journey. Is this your first book? How long was the process?
CW: It wasn’t my first book, but it was the first story I really felt strongly about. I knew that once it was finished I wouldn’t rest until it found a home. I really started writing when my kids were small, sporadically of course! Once they were in school I got more serious about it. It’s been a very long process for me. They’re both college-age now! I landed my agent, Rachelle Gardner, a few years ago. I continued to write and hone my craft, and even though we couldn’t find the right home for Yesterday’s Tomorrow right away, I never gave up hope. And now, five years later, here we are!
BH: Is there anything from your personal life in Yesterday’s Tomorrow?
CW: No, not really. I think I do empathize with Kristin though, in her struggles with faith. I think we all question God at some point and find it difficult to believe He really does work all things together for good. I’ve been through some tough times where I questioned Him, and I was able to use that to give her the emotions of someone in that position.
BH: How did you decide on OakTara as your publisher? Tell us a bit about working with Oak Tara and some background on them.
CW: We couldn’t find a home for the book right away. In fact, my agent recommended we shelve the manuscript for a while. So that’s what happened. I put it away and wrote another book. But all the while I just kept thinking it didn’t feel right. I couldn’t give up on the story that meant so much to me. It really was the book of my heart. Last summer I took it out again and looked at it with an open mind, did another rewrite and we decided to send it to some of the smaller publishers who seemed to be more open to sticky topics.
Ramona Tucker at OakTara loved the story, and pushed it through the publishing process in extraordinarily short measure. OakTara has been wonderful to work with. They have an amazing design team and work very closely with their authors. Ramona and Jeff Nisbett started the company to, “step into the marketplace gap to provide dozens of writers with new opportunities—from first-time publication to widening the readership for already-established authors—and to seek those readers who wouldn’t traditionally enter a Christian bookstore but who avidly shop the Web.” Their goal is “to provide readers with something different, vibrant, and new—not ‘just the same old thing’ that they’ve seen, time and again, from other inspirational publishers.” You can read more about them at http://www.oaktara.com
BH: What kind of feedback have you received on the book so far?
CW: Actually, it’s been amazing! Which is kind of funny considering we were told that nobody would want to read a book set in Vietnam. Apparently a lot of people do! Truly, it is more than I hoped for. Everyone who has read it has been touched in some way. I’m really pleased that it seems to appeal to both Christians and those who wouldn’t necessarily read “Christian fiction.” The biggest honor so far has been hearing that it’s given people a new insight on Veterans and what they’ve gone through.
BH: Tell us a bit about yourself. What are your hobbies? What kind of books do you read?
CW: I was born and raised in Bermuda. I spent two years at boarding school in England, then went to university in Canada. After I married my high school sweetheart (so cliché I know!) we spent several years suffering through Canadian winters before moving back to Bermuda to raise our family.
I love to garden so when I’m not writing I’m usually outside. I’m an avid dog lover and spend a lot of time with my border collie, Noah. I do love to read, both ABA and CBA authors. Usually I’ll chose to read literary fiction, women’s fiction and of course, romance!
BH: What advice to you have for aspiring writers?
CW: Develop a thick skin. Be prepared for years of hard work, which doesn’t stop once you’re published by the way! Learn, learn, learn. Go to writers conferences, get a great critique partner or group and get busy writing! And of course, don’t give up! If you know you’re called to write, trust God with that. And ask for an extra helping of patience. You’ll need it.
Tomorrow I will post the review of Yesterday’s Tomorrow and give you another chance to leave a comment to win a free copy.
Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel Yesterday’s Tomorrow, releases March 15th, through OakTara Publishers.
OakTara Website: http://www.oaktara.com
You can check out the book review on my blog or Examiner.com.