Catherine Cavendish is a must-read horror author and someone I am super excited about having involved in this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. If you haven’t read any of her work, I encourage you to give her a chance. It won’t be a waste of time, I assure you.
Meghan: Hi, Catherine. Welcome welcome. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Catherine Cavendish: I’m a published author of horror tales mainly in the supernatural, paranormal, Gothic, and ghostly traditions.
Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?
Catherine Cavendish: When I was a child, I planted a conker that is now a flourishing, tall horse chestnut tree
I am not fond of chocolate. I don’t hate it, but I could live without it perfectly happily. Cheese on the other hand…
I have a phobia about stairs – I had a nasty accident involving them a few years back.
When I was a small child, I wanted to be a ballerina.
Again, when I was a small child, I had an invisible friend called Gerry. He went everywhere with me, much to my mother’s embarrassment.
Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?
Meghan: What are you reading now?
Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?
Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?
Catherine Cavendish: There is no one answer to this as I cannot remember a time I didn’t want to write. The need to tell a story that builds in my head and refuses to go away is what always gets me started. I began writing as soon as I could hold a pencil.
Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?
Catherine Cavendish: At my desk in my home office/library. The walls are lined with bookshelves. Perfect for me.
Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Catherine Cavendish: Nothing out of the ordinary. I research locations and settings on the internet and create a file of pictures. I also do this with main characters. For books requiring research, I read a lot beforehand to drown myself in the atmosphere of the time and place in which I am setting the story.
Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Catherine Cavendish: Hunting out and ridding the story of anomalies that creep in. Even when you think you’ve dispatched them all, there is always one lurking in a corner ready to trip you up.
Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?
Catherine Cavendish: That’s a hard one to answer. I am particularly partial to my latest – The Haunting of Henderson Close – because I had the basic idea for that story for a number of years and finally got around to writing it.
Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?
Catherine Cavendish: Creature by Hunter Shea is an amazing book – not only is it sublime horror but it is also one of the most moving stories I have ever read. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill is riveting, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, M.R. James, Susan Hill, Jonathan Janz… the list of amazing horror authors past and present continue to inspire me. Emily Bronte and Daphne du Maurier have also been sources of great inspiration and continue to be.
Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?
Catherine Cavendish: Strong, multi layered characters working their way through a plot with unexpected twists and turns, challenges, atmosphere, suspense and an ending you weren’t expecting.
Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?
Catherine Cavendish: I hate prissy, sweet, text book characters. I love flawed, sometimes damaged personalities who fight against the circumstances in which they find themselves. I like them to be non-conformist or to have broken away from the life they were expected to follow. I like rebels. I strive to incorporate this in my main characters. They are usually thirty years old, or more, and have had ups and downs in their lives. Of course, little do they know that things are about to take a turn for the worse and they will need all their reserves of strength and resilience…
Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
Catherine Cavendish: There are elements of me in most of my main characters but none are especially like me. I suppose the closest is probably Nessa who features in a novel I am currently working on. She goes through some of the major medical issues I faced a few years ago and I do see more of myself in her.
Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?
Catherine Cavendish: If we are honest, I think most of us look at the cover first and make an unconscious snap judgement about the content of the story based on that. I am lucky in that all my publishers (so far) have involved me quite heavily in the process. For The Haunting of Henderson Close and my upcoming novel, The Garden of Bewitchment, the publishers – Flame Tree Press – invited me to submit suggestions. I did so, fairly comprehensively as I always do, and the resulting covers are as near to my vision as I believe it is possible to be. I am delighted with them and feel they accurately reflect the content in each case. This also applies to my titles with Crossroad Press.
Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?
Catherine Cavendish: That you never stop learning and there is always room for improvement.
Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?
Catherine Cavendish: That has to be in my current work in progress because it involved a serious medical condition and surgery I actually lived through. While I was writing it, I felt myself back in the hospital, in pain, a bit scared and wondering how I was going to get through it. As far as my currently published work is concerned, the final scene in Saving Grace Devine reduced me to tears.
Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Catherine Cavendish: I think you would have to ask my readers that one. I like to think maybe it’s the combination of gothic with supernatural and the twists I take at the end. I like to challenge!
Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?
Catherine Cavendish: I think titles are critical. Whenever I come up with one, I always check it to see if there are any other books with the same title. If there are, I avoid it and think again. Of course, there is nothing to stop someone else coming up with the same title as yours, but I think it prevents possible confusion if you try and avoid one already in use.
Sometimes a title is the first thing that comes to me and, at other times, I really have to work at it, discarding three or four choices before finding the one that really fits the bill. One of the easiest was The Haunting of Henderson Close. I had picked the name of the Close after checking that no such place existed in Edinburgh and, as the novel was about an evil haunting, the rest came naturally.
Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?
Catherine Cavendish: In their own ways, both, but because of the length of time and energy expended on writing a novel, the time when you finally decide ‘that’s it’, is a greatly fulfilling one.
Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.
Catherine Cavendish: My take on horror is the jump-scare, something lurking in the shadows, the stuff of nightmares. I often set – at least part of – my stories in the past because I love history and exploring historical locations. Mine is the world of ghosts, demons, witches, devils and unquiet spirits, frequently with a Gothic flavour. I use folklore traditions that exist and ones I create myself. My target audience is anyone who enjoys a scary, creepy story, suspense and/or horror. When they have finished one of my stories, I hope readers have enjoyed the experience and want to read more
Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?
Catherine Cavendish: If a scene fails to move the story along, or has no relevance to what came before or will come after, out it goes. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and I don’t tend to think about it anymore.
Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?
Catherine Cavendish: I have a tin containing scraps of paper with notes on, or sometimes merely a line or two suggesting a plot for a short story, novel or novella. One came from a vivid dream I had which I can still remember around six years on. I was in a wood and came across an old timber hut. There was an exquisite and clearly expensive picture on the porch…and that’s all I’m telling you. I’ll write that story one day… maybe
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Catherine Cavendish: On February 10th, Flame Tree Press will be publishing The Garden of Bewitchment which is set in Bronte country – Haworth and its environs – in West Yorkshire, near where I grew up. This is a ghostly and Gothic tale involving twin sisters who are obsessed with the works of the Bronte sisters. Here’s the official blurb:
Don’t play the game
In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed. Neighbour Matthew Dixon befriends Evelyn, but seems to have more than one secret to hide. Then the horror really begins. The Garden of Bewitchment is all too real and something is threatening the lives and sanity of the women.
Evelyn no longer knows who – or what – to believe. And time is running out.
Meghan: Where can we find you? (Links to anywhere you’re okay with fans connecting with you.)
(I also have Instagram but I’m not particularly good at it! Camera-shy I guess.)
Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?
Catherine Cavendish: Thank you to everyone who has read or reads my work. I really appreciate your support. Long may it continue. Keep reading scary stories!
Cat first started writing when someone thrust a pencil into her hand. Unfortunately as she could neither read nor write properly at the time, none of her stories actually made much sense. However as she grew up, they gradually began to take form and, at the tender age of nine or ten, she sold her dolls’ house, and various other toys to buy her first typewriter. She hasn’t stopped bashing away at the keys ever since, although her keyboard of choice now belongs to her laptop.
The need to earn a living led to a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance but Cat is now the full-time author of a number of supernatural, ghostly, haunted house and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. These include (among others): The Haunting of Henderson Close, The Devil’s Serenade, and Saving Grace Devine.
Cat lives in Southport, in the U.K. with her longsuffering husband, and a black cat, who has never forgotten that her species was once worshipped in Egypt.
When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…
In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released.
Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?
The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.
Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…
When Maddie Chambers inherits her Aunt Charlotte’s Gothic mansion, old memories stir of the long-forgotten summer she turned sixteen. She has barely moved in before a series of bizarre events drives her to question her sanity.
The strains of her aunt’s favorite song echo through the house, the roots of a faraway willow creep through the cellar, a child who cannot exist skips from room to room, and Maddie discovers Charlotte kept many deadly secrets.
Gradually, the barriers in her mind fall away, and Maddie begins to recall that summer when she looked into the face of evil. Now, the long dead builder of the house has unfinished business and an ancient demon is hungry. Soon it is not only Maddie’s life that is in danger, but her soul itself, as the ghosts of her past shed their cover of darkness.
“Can the living help the dead…and at what cost? “
When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can t refuse.
But as she digs further into Grace s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price. “