Saturday, November 01, 2014

A Conversation with Author Cathie Devitt

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Cathie Devitt
with Cathie Devitt

We are delighted to welcome author Cathie Devitt to Omnimystery News today.

Cathie's first in a new trilogy featuring witch Bernice O'Hanlon is Don't Drink and Fly (Roundfire Books; October 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had a chance to catch up with her to talk more about it.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to your new series character, Bernice. What is it about her that appeals to you as a writer?

Cathie Devitt
Photo provided courtesy of
Cathie Devitt

Cathie Devitt: Brought up by her grandparents on a small Scottish Island, Bernice's life is blighted with tragedy from a young age. She moves to the city. I am drawn to Bernice as she struggles with emotional demons and shows the contrasting experience of rural living to urban life. I am interested in her spiritual path. When the reader is first introduced to her it is at a later stage in her life, and we all know how life experiences change us as people.

OMN: Into which fiction genre would you place this book?

CD: If I could invent a new genre it would be Catfiction (as my name is Cathie and I write with my own voice). It is classed as contemporary fiction by the publisher. I have written the story of Bernice with the intention of it appealing to a range of readers.

Personally I read across genres and I am sure that others do too. My book has; tragedy, humour, crime and passion. Just like everyday lives. Whilst the story doesn't focus on a particular genre I felt that it was important to allow the reader to understand the protagonist from the different areas in her life.

I feel that when fiction is labelled under particular genres it can be easy to fall into writing to a stereotypical format, and that, I feel, exploits the reader.

OMN: Give us a summary of Don't Drink and Fly in a tweet.

CD: Free spirited Wiccan witch, Bernice, brings two distinct and traditional cultures together. Sharp dialogue, brilliant characterisation. Why read this? Why not?

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in the book?

CD: Writers write fiction from life and as clichéd as it sounds, life is stranger than fiction. We all have different life experiences and we all react differently to them. I have good observational skills and I listen to stranger's conversations to pick up accents, speech impediments, and the local dialect of wherever I am at the time. I love people watching at busy places like railway stations and airports. If you were to be secretly videoed I am sure that you will see habits that you have and never realised such as perhaps, scratching your nose when nervous, stuttering when speaking to someone in authority, using the same phrases over and over. I create characters, not as a reflection of one person but as unique 3-dimensional characters.

OMN: Where do you usually find yourself writing?

CD: I have a tiny office space in my home but as a working mother find it difficult to have peace and quiet in evenings and at weekends. Most of my writing is done away from home. In the library, at writers retreats and on holiday. I find writers retreats are excellent as you have time and space to write but also the company of other writers to discuss their work and your own. I carry a notebook and jot ideas down as they come into my head and can at times drift off at work meetings to lay out a plot in my head. I enjoy silence when writing but I do listen to music to inspire/trigger ideas. Walking the dogs is also good as the fresh air and exercise stimulates the imagination.

OMN: How did you go about researching the plot points of the story?

CD: I researched Wicca for Don't Drink and Fly and I found this fascinating. The internet is a great resource and libraries are brilliant but I find that personally speaking to others about their experiences is crucial as it brings the theories to life and shows the various levels of understanding and practice. I welcomed the opportunity to attend Wiccan events and observe their traditions and actions in contrast to historical events.

OMN: How true are you to the setting in the book?

CD: I stay true to the geography and landscape of the setting, but use artistic licence to paint the picture of the local environment that I want readers to explore. After all, ask anyone about any location and you will find that individual views and reactions can be widely varied depending on their personal experience and their age and mindset at the time they were there

OMN: Tell us more about the cover design. And how did you come up with the title?

CD: My book cover was illustrated by Glasgow artist Mandy Sinclair. This shows the Glasgow skyline. The title came from a story told to me by a witch about the trouble she had claiming on her home insurance after a cauldron toppled and burnt her carpet.

OMN: What kind of feedback have you received from readers?

CD: Feedback has been very positive. Many spiritual people are attracted by the fact that at last we have a book who doesn't show a witch as a cartoon character turning frogs into princes, but shows the real humane side and is factual with the spells and rituals.

It is very important for me to get feedback from readers as this will enable me to build a relationship with them and ensure that I produce high quality writing that my readers enjoy.

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Cathie Devitt was born into a working class family in Glasgow Scotland in 1958.

Her passion for writing started at a young age and when she was just 11 years old, Cathie wrote and starred in a one act play at her school "Beginning of the End". The teachers were so impressed that the toured the show around several community events. In 2011 Cathie wrote and starred in another play "Mammy" … so the passion hasn't died. Throughout her informative years Cathie continue to write: poetry, lyrics, articles and short stories. Many of which have been published in magazines, journals and anthologies.

It was as a result of joining Erskine Writers, a local writing group, that Cathie was encouraged to write more and submit her work for publication. She set off on a journey and honed her writing skills by taking courses at the Open College of the Arts, Strathclyde University and becoming actively involved in writing organisations in Scotland such as Scottish Association of Writers Federation of Writers Scotland and Weegie Wednesday. Cathie is a member of The Society of Authors National Union of Journalists and Playwriting Scotland.

Cathie has produced and facilitated creative writing workshops in community and corporate environments.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at CathieDevitt.com, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Don't Drink and Fly by Cathie Devitt

Don't Drink and Fly
Cathie Devitt
The Story of Bernice O'Hanlon

Bernice is a witch with many skeletons in her closet. She has an addictive personality, works as a holistic therapist, and struggles to maintain any intimate relationships. Her spells are not always as accurate as they could be, often the result of her having a few too many goblets of red wine.

When mysterious letters start appearing at her door, she begins to think about her childhood and, with the help of her long-suffering friend Maggie, tries to come to terms with her past and the family she left behind.

But nothing in Bernice's life is ever simple …

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