First, thank you so much for interviewing me! My name is Catherine Knutsson, and I’m a born-and-bred Vancouver Islander. I’ve lived here most of my life, aside from short sojourns in Vancouver and Iran (yes, Iran!). My wonderfully supportive husband, Mikel, and I share our home with two cats, and up until recently, I worked as a singing teacher, but now I’m a full-time writer.
SHADOWS CAST BY STARS is my first book to be published, and I’m very proud of it. I’m Métis, so the story draws on thoughts I’ve had about my heritage, and more general wonderings about story, culture, myth, and multi-generational healing.
Why do you write? What got you going?
To paraphrase Anne Lamott, I write because I’m not good at anything else! But, on a more serious note, I’m one of the few writers I know that didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. I wanted to be a musician, and it was only when I started to have some physical issues due to spending all day behind a piano that I knew I needed to make a change. I’ve always loved language--that was one of the reasons I studied singing--and somehow, I just started writing a story that turned into a novel. It was terrible! But, one novel led to the next, and a couple of years later, I had found an agent who believed in me and my writing, and a short time later, we sold SHADOWS CAST BY STARS. It still seems really surreal!
Which of your characters is your favourite? How is she or he different from yourself?
Oh gosh, I really adore Paul, who is the brother of Cassandra, the book’s narrator. My editor described Paul as a “still waters run deep” character, and that really connected with me. Oh, and I also love the raven, a character who is several things at once. I would be happy writing his voice all day long!
Do you have a favourite line or two from one of your book(s)? What is it?
My favourite lines are:
The cottage watches us with wary eyes. It knows we’re leaving and as if to reinforce that point, three ravens fly overhead, a trio of black periods in the sky. Dot, dot, dot. What happens now…
How much control did you have have over the cover design of your book? Do you like it? If you didn't design it yourself, how do you think it would have turned out if you did?
Actually, I didn’t have any control over the cover. One day, it just arrived in my inbox with a note from my editor saying “Surprise! I hope you love it as much as I do”, and wow, did I ever! It fits the story perfectly, I think.
How do you balance storytelling with real life? Is there a line somewhere or do your realities get blurred?
Balance is a constant struggle for me. I have to book time to do things other than writing, because, otherwise, I would spend all day in my head and never get anything done. I write constantly, and by that, I mean I’m always shaping story in my head (I do a lot of work in my head before I ever sit down at a keyboard), and I’ve learned to stash notebooks all over the place in case I need to write something down. I now have a designated office with a desktop computer, so that “going to work” is really that - it’s a physical act. Otherwise, I would be working all day, non-stop, and I actually don’t think that’s good for me. As a former teacher would say, an artist has to fill their creative well, or the well runs dry!
Do you have an acknowledgement section at the end of your book? If yes, can you tell us a little bit more about ONE of the people you mention?
Sure! One of the people I thank is my agent, Diana Fox, who has been such a tremendous support for me throughout this process. I can’t imagine going through the publication process without an agent (though I know lots of authors do it, and hats off to them!), and she always gave me an encouraging word or a morale boost when I needed it most. We all need champions, and she’s been one of mine!
Do you have any fun hobbies other than reading and writing? What are they?
I’m a completely unabashed horse nut. When I was a kid, I wanted to BE a horse. Now, I’m happy to spend time with them whenever I can. I volunteer for our local therapeutic riding association, and I’m also a dressage rider. Currently, I’m riding a school horse, but it’s my hope to buy my own horse in the next year or so.
Is there a Y.A. novel you wish YOU wrote?
HOW I LIVE NOW, by Meg Rosoff. Oh gosh, I love this novel so much, and I just heard it’s getting made into a movie with Saoirse Ronan in the role of Daisy, and I couldn’t be more excited!
If you could live in any time period (other than the current one) which one would you choose?
Just one? There are so many time periods I’d love to live in! But, okay, just one....Salzburg in the late eighteenth century, so I could see (and listen!) to Mozart. Failing that, I’d also be happy to spend time in pre-Roman Britain, or ancient Egypt, or Persia, or anywhere in Europe during the Renaissance, or in pre-contact North America. And don’t even get me started about Middle Earth! *grin*
What was the last thing you ate? Did you enjoy it?
I firmly believe that life is too short to eat things you don’t like. So, the last thing I ate: toast with almond butter and lemon curd - so yummy!
If you could have a pet that was a mythical creature, which creature would you choose?
What is the most fun you’ve ever had?
Every two years, my husband and I go on an epic road trip, and I think the most fun we’ve had was on our epic trek to Alaska a couple of years back. Every day was an adventure, and we loved it - the scenery, the wild animals (we almost had a moose jump in the back of our car!), taking detours to ghost towns, and seeing parts of the Pacific Northwest and the North that we had never seen before, places like Wells (where we ended up modelling for a travel photographer before being invited to an experimental film festival) and Barkerville (where we stayed in a gold rush hotel!) and Iskut and Kitwanga (tiny First Nations villages). Oh, and we LOVED Whitehorse (where they have very good beer and even better coffee!) - I’d love to spend a winter there some time!
What advice would you give your teen readers about life?
Be true to yourself. And, the important things in life are rarely easy. Be ready for that, and love the hard work, because hard work is often important work. Had someone told me those things, I think my teen years would have been a lot easier!
Thank you for sharing with us, Catherine. Here is some more information about Catherine and Shadows Cast by Stars:
Two hundred years from now, blood has become the most valuable commodity on the planet - especially the blood of aboriginal peoples, for it contains antibodies that protect them from the plague that is ravaging the rest of the world.
Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to the plague, but that doesn't mean she's safe. Government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood. When a search threatens Cass and her family, they flee to the Island, a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerilla warriors, and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in. And though the village healer has taken Cass under her wing, and the tribal leader's son into his heart, the spirit world is angry, and it has chosen Cass to be its voice and instrument...
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Find Catherine Knutsson on:
Official website: www.catherineknutsson.com
This post was part of my New Year's Signature Collection event.
Watch out for more guest posts, lists, reviews of January releases, author interviews, and more throughout January.