Interview with Cat Connor

What genre do you write and why?
I write crime thrillers, mostly. Every now and then something else creeps in but generally crime thrillers.

Why? Because I enjoy face-paced action and the thrill of not knowing what will happen next. Writing can be an adrenaline buzz and I’m a little bit of an adrenaline junkie. But it’s not just about the action, the relationships between characters are important and watching characters develop in trying circumstances is interesting.

Tell us about your latest book.
The latest book is DATABYTE. It’s the 6th book in the Byte Series.

When information becomes misinformation how much of what you see should you believe?

When information becomes misinformation, the result is mayhem for Supervisory Special Agent Ellie Conway. Wanted for a murder she didn’t commit and on the run from the FBI, seemingly irrefutable evidence against her mounts at an alarming rate. The life of an actor with close ties to Delta A hangs in the balance and Ellie must also protect him, while trying to catch the real killer. Her only hope at returning to her life rests on her innate ability to see the truth. 

“Cat Connor’s Databyte, a techno-thriller cum murder mystery, hits the spot and then some. Even if we’d never heard of the NSA, Eric Snowden, and Julian Assange, this book would be worth the price of admission just to eavesdrop on the internal dialogue of Supervisory Special Agent Ellie Conway.”
                –Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award-winning author of The Hollow Girl

What's the best thing about being a writer?
So many good things about being a writer! Probably the things I enjoy the most is the ability to live in two worlds simultaneously. I spend most of my days with one foot in reality and the other in Ellie’s world. It’s never dull being me – juggling reality can make life more interesting that it otherwise would be and probably a little frustrating for people sharing my life. I’m lucky to have a very understanding family and group of friends.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
People can drop by my website, it’s a fairly easy one to remember, From there you can find all sorts of information about my work (and a few things about me) and links to my blog, Facebook, and my publisher’s website.

I tweet, so you can always chat to me on Twitter. Again fairly easy, @catconnor.

Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
This is the second time a question like this has come up recently. Might be a bit easier answering in regards to this particular book rather than the entire series?

Or not.

Apart from my main character Ellie Conway (who is always going to be my favorite – we’re old friends), in DATABYTE I really enjoyed Mike Davenport. As a character he was a bit different and mostly fun to write. When he first popped up as a character and I realized I couldn’t shake him (as in he was there to stay whether I liked it or not) I struggled to get a handle on him. He is the slightly younger brother of SSA Lee Davenport who is a member of Ellie’s team, but Mike is also an actor which put a whole new spin on things. I didn’t know anything about acting or actors.

Cat Connor
How long did it take you to write your book?
It takes me between three and six months to get a completed first draft – and it always feels wrong when I say first draft. There is no such thing in my world. It’s not like I write it beginning to end then re-write the whole book, that’s not how it happens at all. Six months work gives me a completed novel. It’s my version of a first draft. No one sees it until I’ve gone over it a few times and added detail, moved scenes, tweaked bits and pieces – that can take another few weeks. There are exceptions to my ‘no one sees it’ rule. I do, at this point, pull out various scenes and send them to the appropriate experts. So, medical, action, and anything I’m not sure about, gets vetted while I’m tweaking other parts of the manuscript. Once everyone’s happy then the manuscript goes out to a few well trusted readers, comments are considered and changes made. Then it’s read again, and again, and out loud and backwards, and eventually ends up on my publisher’s desk about eight months from the day I began writing it. Then the nervous wait begins … or for me, the edits for the previous book tend to arrive and that keeps me occupied. Sometime between finishing edits and signing contracts another book generally begins to emerge. I’m always a book ahead, which is fun and sometimes tricky. For example, DATABYTE will be officially launched on June 13, 2014, ERASERBYTE is with my publishers and will be out sometimes in 2015, and I’ve started working on the next Byte book. I’ve had to re-read DATABYTE recently in preparation for the launch! My brain is already immersed in the writing of the 8th Byte book.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
I learned a few things I didn’t expect to learn while writing DATABYTE. I learned I can’t write while listening to Leonard Cohen. Well I could, but all my characters would end up dead. I also learned more than I ever needed to know about Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP). Ellie surprised me at one point during the writing process, I didn’t expect her to be quite as jumpy as she was about lying to a priest. That fascinated me.
How do you research your books?
This is not such an easy question to answer. For starters my books are set in a different country to where I live. There is travel involved (much fun!) and a good measure of time spent on Google Earth too – depending where the story ends up.

Some research is hands on, some isn’t.

Every now and then I come across a character I have no clue how to write, then I go to experts. If you want to know about life as a touring rock star – you need to talk to a rock star – so I did and made a friend on the way.

With DATABYTE I needed to know about life as an actor. I didn’t know anything about actors or acting, so my new character required a bit of research and some help from an actor I quite like.

Some stuff is easier than others. I’m kinda geeky so, techy stuff is fun research and I enjoy it greatly. A few times now a particular type of pen has been used in my books – it’s a pen that’s capable of taking video with audio, or still photos, and it looks like a very nice ballpoint pen (not too different to a Parker pen). I have one and have used it for all sorts of things – including taking photos in places where photos aren’t supposed to be taken – just to see if I could.

When it comes to various weapons my main character uses or comes across – there is a reason I call my husband Action Man (no he’s not made of plastic). My main character favors a Glock 17 because that’s what I’m comfortable with. Action Man would be delighted if Ellie switched from Glock to SIG but I don’t see it happening!

I’m lucky to have experts in various fields that I can call on when I get stuck. One of my characters is a doctor, I’m not – so I require medical experts to make sure I get it right.

People are generally fairly helpful.

Also, YouTube can be a fabulous resource for various things! 

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
The quick answer is - I was inspired by a lack of strong, feminine, courageous, female characters and decided to write what I wanted to read. So I did. And really, there is nothing that’s as much fun as this!

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? 
Not writing, now there’s a foreign concept! When I’m not writing …

I host a writing workshop at our main library every fortnight, it’s a lot of fun and I get to talk about writing. That counts, right?

I do watch the occasional movie. (Sometimes I call that research … depends whose in it.) I read, often for people rather than for fun though. So getting to read a book just for the sheer entertainment value is a rare thing these days. Music is important, so there is always music playing (working or not).

We have an ex-racing greyhound, Romeo, so we go for a lot of walks. He’s a silent but very entertaining companion.

I spent the first term of this school year helping the kids in my youngest daughter’s class with their writing - that was quite an experience. Mostly enjoyable until one of them gave me the flu and I ended up sick for 3 weeks!

For completely non-writing related fun – I hang out with friends and family (and pinot noir).



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