A Singer Becomes a Writer
Writing novels is very much like acting. The writer convinces the reader that what we all know is unreal can be accepted as real, at least for the moment. The place, the people, and the plot all spring from that magical source, the conjurer’s imagination, an alchemy of word, gesture, setting, and event. If the actor–or the writer–can entice the audience to join her on the creative journey, story happens.
I have the great good fortune of enjoying two artistic careers. I was a classical concert and opera singer in the first act of my life, and not only did I love singing–still love singing–but opera gave me many skills I use all the time as a novelist. An opera singer is an actor; an actor learns about tension and release, about creating drama, about building a scene, and perhaps most critically, character development.
My first novel was published, to my surprised delight, in 1995, and since then I’ve been publishing steadily, sometimes against the odds. The Terrorists of Irustan represents my passion for feminist social science fiction, and The Glass Harmonica my love of music, as does The Singers of Nevya. The Child Goddess speaks to both my love of children and concern for those who are abused or abandoned, and to my fascination with religious life. The three Toby Bishop novels set out in a different direction, but the undercurrent of feminism still flows through them, with women characters who believe in their own destiny and refuse to give up control of their lives. There is no music, but there are horses and dogs and a faintly operatic sense of drama that is consistent with my other work.
I think, no matter how varied our experiences, we writers express our world view in the stories we undertake. My novel Mozart’s Blood returns to my interest in music and history, with a dash of spice from the world of speculative fiction. The Brahms Deception combines romance, history, and music, facilitated by time travel. My stories are set sometimes in the past, occasionally in the future, and often, especially with The Glass Butterfly, in a rather strange and mysterious present. I hope not to be restricted to any one genre, because so many of them interest me.
As Cate Campbell, I’ve published three novels in the Benedict Hall series, which is historical fiction about a wealthy family in Seattle in the 1920s, featuring a young woman physician. More recently, the novels A Secret History of Witches, The Witch’s Kind, and now, The Age of Witches are published under the name I truly love, Louisa Morgan.
I’m fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest, where there is an abundance of resources for writers. The Clarion West Writer’s Workshop was pivotal in my development as a writer, and there is a whole host of people here who support and encourage each other–science fiction great Greg Bear, the late Vonda McIntyre, the fantasist Robin Hobb, Kay Kenyon, Richard Paul Russo, Brenda Cooper, Cat Rambo . . . too many to list them all. Where I now live the entire town is filled with every kind of artist, and it’s a daily inspiration.
I’m an enthusiastic cook with an interest in health food, an avid yogini, and a happy golfer, although it takes up too much of my writing time. I love to dabble in languages. I speak a fair amount of Italian and am working on my French. I read a great deal for pleasure, because I think if I don’t read for fun, I won’t write for fun. Books should be fun.
I love to visit middle schools and high schools to talk about writing and about speculative fiction. I appreciate e-mails and notes from readers. I also love conventions and conferences, and the fans and writers who attend them. They give me inspiration, input, community, and friendship.
This photo is me as Baba the Turk, a bearded lady. Not one of my greatest roles! The beard itched.