Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Catherine Stine - Speculative Fiction Writer

I'm thrilled to be interviewing teen and new adult writer Catherine Stine on my blog today. I don't often get the chance to interview writers, so this was a pleasure for me.

Q:  Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you're not writing? 

 I grew up in Philadelphia and live in New York City. I love Manhattan because there’s always a play, a reading or an exhibit to see. I teach creative writing and literature at the School of Visual Arts, at the Philadelphia Writers Conference and in my own private workshop.  

Q:  On your blog you describe yourself as a writer of anything that speculates on the future. What is it about the future that draws your interest? 

I’ve always been drawn to the new. I’m also an artist, and it seems that one role those in the creative arts play is to visualize, intuit and speculate on life going forward. One of my favourite things to read is the Science section of the New York Times. Bring it on! Medical breakthroughs, quirky inventions, hybrids, space travel, nanotech, and I’ll amuse myself with taking it to a “what if” level.

Q:  You have published Fireseed One, a young adult thriller. Tell us a bit about it. 

Sure, I’ll try something different and simply describe the characters: The year is 2089, and the location is a very changed earth. Varik, the brainy son of a drowned marine biologist must put his dreams of becoming a doctor on hold in order to save their ocean farms; Marisa is a beautiful but misguided terrorist who Varik tangles with; Audun is Varik’s trendy fashion-hound friend, who’s saddled with a terrifying responsibility; Nevada Pilgrim is a woodsy artist girl, in way over her head when she joins the ZWC, a murderous activist group; and then there’s the creepy Fireseed cult, who worship Varik’s dead father. They capture Varik when he ventures down to the Hotzone. The impetus for this story was the death of an old friend, murdered while snorkelling. I wanted to pay homage to her memory, and there’s a questionable drowning in Fireseed One that Varik works hard to avenge.

Q:  Would you share an excerpt with us? 

Here’s one for those who appreciate sparks between characters:

There’s an edge of danger to Marisa. I think I like the edge. It’s less boring than being with a good girl with mousy hair from Land D who reads all the right books and stays out of trouble. I only had that one other girlfriend. Even that felt nervy, although all we did was grope each other at the Stream flicks. What will happen next with Marisa?  I picture kissing her again, stroking her wild red hair that smells of violets and sweat, her pressing against me under the night sky. Not knowing how it will unfold, especially down in this untamed Hotzone, makes my breath come fast. She could’ve killed me, she could’ve run, she could’ve double-tricked me. But she’s done none of this, and now she’s helping me with her contacts. Audun was right—she was mesmerized by Bryan like those Lionfish disciples were. Conned by the clever rant.  It’s scary how even smart, rational people fall into traps. Our earlier argument seems far away. We’re both growing out of our old skin, like two desert lizards, and the feeling of connecting is amazing.

 Q:  You’re also a published illustrator, and Fireseed One contains your interior spots. How did you decide which scenes to illustrate? 

I choose ones that show drama or invention, and I rarely draw the characters, as I think readers like to imagine them in their own fashion. There are occasional exceptions to this.

Q:  You’re currently working with a cover designer for the sequel, Ruby’s Fire. Do you think the fact that you’re an illustrator helps with the design process? If so, how? 

Most definitely! I provide rough concept sketches, and function as the art director, a role that I’ve taken in actual jobs. I know the publishing world, and Photoshop. Jay is an amazing digital illustrator and we enjoy collaborating.

Q: Tell us a bit about Ruby’s Fire. When can we read it? 

Here are a few teaser lines to give you an idea. Lots of edgy terror and romance, and it launches in June!

If everything about you changes, what remains? 

Seventeen year-old Ruby, long-pledged to the much older Stiles from the Fireseed desert cult, escapes with only a change of clothes, a pouch of Oblivion Powder and her mute little brother, Thorn. Arriving at The Greening, a boarding school for orphaned teens, she can finally stop running. Or can she? The Greening is not what it seems. Students are rampaging out of control and as she cares for the secret Fireseed crop, she experiences frightening physical changes.

Q:  You teach creative writing. What is a piece of advice you give to your students? 

Slow down, don’t rush to publish. Craft a seamless plot and story. Chop the first ten pages off your manuscript, and then revise, revise, revise. After that, get a trusted beta reader to edit, and shampoo, rinse, repeat!

Q: You also offer manuscript evaluation and editing. How do you balance this and your teaching with your own writing projects? 

Who knows? I get a lot done in one day, and I’m a fast reader. I love all of my students, whether I’m editing for them, teaching them the nuts and bolts of plotting or the finer points of crafting lyrical prose.

Q:  Now for the compulsory random question: if you could go anywhere in the past, where would it be and why? 

I’m drawn to the “roaring twenties” when women were breaking out of their constrained roles and basically going wild with sex and fashion, and fighting to gain political power. And further back, I’m drawn to Europe during Chaucer’s time in the 1300s. This was also an era of great movement in society, with the merchant class gaining financially and becoming land barons. For instance, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath married five times, travelled extensively, and had her own thriving textile business. She is a funny, sexy and powerful character.

Fireseed One on Amazon
Catherine's Idea City blog

Thank you, Catherine. It was an honour getting to know you better. Chaucer brings back a flood of memories for me - I studied his Canterbury Tales for A level English Literature. I remember Wife of Bath vividly!

That is all for today. I will be back on Friday, when I'm being interviewed by the lovely Alicia Willette-Cook over at Unicorn Bell. Happy writing.


  1. Wonderful interview Ellie always a pleasure to read.


  2. Great getting to know Ellie better.

    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  3. That's cool you get to work with your illustrator.

  4. It's great to get to know Christine even better. I loved FireSeed One! Such an interesting concept.

  5. Super interview, thanks Catherine and Ellie :)

  6. So glad to get to know you better, Catherine. It sounds like you have an amazing life.

  7. Great interview. I didn't realize you were an illustrator too. :) Love the idea you have some illustrations in the book.

  8. Wonderful interview. And Fireseed One is a wonderful book. Glad to hear the next one will be out in June.

  9. I have the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of Ruby's Fire. I'm about 60% through it now. :)

  10. I'd totally go back to the 20s too! I love that era. Wish I could've seen all of it. Congrats on your next book, Catherine!
    Cheers, Ellie! :D

  11. Fantastic interview, ladies! The snippet was fabulous. :)

  12. Great interview, Catherine! I didn't realize you were an illustrator. You're just chock full of surprises! Best wishes for the book launch in June. :-)

  13. Fabulous interview! I read Fireseed One and loved it - and it's not normally what I read. Fireseed One is a captivating thriller set in a futuristic, toxic world teetering on chaos and crisis. Danger, loss, love, and redemption all tie together with rich characters to make for one imaginative blast.See my full review:

    I love, Catherine, how you're now being noticed as a "New Adult" writer and especially like how you describe yourself as "a writer of anything that speculates on the future." You certainly did that beautifully in Fireseed One! Cant wait to see the final cover of Ruby's Fire!

  14. Great interview with such a giving and amazing author! I, too, think the '20s would have been a particularly interesting time for women. The fashion doesn't hurt, either. :)

  15. That is really a fantastic cover!!!


I love comments. They make my day!