Cat Marsters lives in a fairytale cottage with a Prince Charming husband who helpfully brings her delicious treats while she writes, and is more than happy to inspire a steamy love scene at a moment's notice. In fact, he walks around half-naked for this very purpose. And then she wakes up. In actual fact, Cat lives in a village in southeast England which, while not quite a fairytale setting, is nonetheless very pretty and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Cat doesn’t have children but she is the adoring keeper of a small pride of cats, and slavemaster to one Demon Puppy.
Cat has been writing all her life, but in order to keep herself rich in shoes and chocolate, she’s also worked as an airline check-in agent, video rental clerk, stationery shop assistant, and laboratory technician. She’s still aiming for the fairytale cottage and asks all potential Prince Charmings to apply in writing with pictures of themselves and their Aston Martins.
How many books did you write, and how long were you writing, before your first acceptance?
I could count them on my toes. If I had ten feet. I number my files because they don’t always have a title, or it changes (Mad, Bad & Dangerous had eleventy-billion title changes), and I think I was up to fifty-something before I sold my first story. That was when I was twenty-three, so I suppose I’d been writing for seven years since I started when I was sixteen, although I didn’t start seriously submitting until maybe four or five years later.
What was the most surprising thing you learned after becoming published?
That you write your book and it has your name on it, but so much of its success is in other people’s hands. Cover art, how it’s marketed, where it’s sold, reviews and word-of-mouth—you can’t control it yourself.
Got any advice or an enlightening story about dealing with revisions or working with editors?
Well, with MB&D I’ve done so many revisions it’s hard to know what to advise! I’ve made charts and bullet points and scribbled notes all over the place. I did this even before I submitted the book, since I knew something wasn’t right. What I needed was an objective viewpoint—my editor’s—to tell me what wasn’t working. It’s like being in a big maze. You need someone on the outside to tell you how to get out! As for working with editors, I’ve had four (with three houses) and it seems to me like any other partnership: Sometimes you just rub along, and sometimes you bring out the best in each other.
What’s your favorite promo tip?
Be genuine. If you really dislike social networking, don’t do it. People can tell (it’s like when you read a sex scene that’s been added because “sex sells”, not because it fit the story or characters or because the writer likes writing sex). Nobody likes the hard sell. If you blog or tweet or network online, don’t just make it all about your books. Connect with people. Make friends. Friends buy books.
Did you have an agent when you sold your first story? Do you have one now?
Nope, I didn’t, and I still don’t. Not for want of trying, though.
Do you feel there’s a stigma attached to writing erotica/Romantica™?
Not especially. I certainly don’t hide the fact, although depending on the company I do sometimes just say I write romance and then judge from the reaction whether it’s worth explaining the rest. Sometimes the “nudge-nudge-wink-winking” is just too much! Some people look down on it, just like some people look down on romance as a genre. That’s their problem, not mine.
How do you handle writer’s block, or do you believe there’s no such thing?
I can’t say I’ve ever experienced a total block, but there are times when I don’t know what to do with a story or it just isn’t gelling. So I do something else, either writing-related like promo or website maintenance, or something entirely different. Doing manual things like housework frees my brain up sometimes, and so does dog walking. I live near some woods and open fields so I can walk about talking to myself and relatively few people see me and think I’m crazy. The Demon Puppy probably does, but then she’s the devil incarnate so I don’t worry too much about her opinion of me.
What lengths have you gone to in the name of research? What wouldn’t you do?
Sometimes I think if MI5 went through my browsing history they’d probably think I was a terrorist. Or a pervert. Whenever people nudge and wink and ask me if I research all my sex scenes personally, I tell them yes. Every one. Even the ones with the vampires. The sex is great but the bloodstains are hell on the sheets. And werewolves? Very exciting, although they do tend to rip your lingerie to shreds. Either that, or I tell them I watch a lot of porn.
What’s the most importance piece of advice you have for aspiring (not yet published) authors?
Keep going. You’re pre-published, not un-published. If you really want to do it, then keep on going. After all, if you quit you’ll never get there!
Would you offer any word of warning for aspiring or new authors about the writing profession or the publishing industry?
Yes. Write because you love it, not for the money (although some money is nice). Don’t imagine glory and riches. There are thousands of brilliant authors out there but I bet you’ve never heard of 95% of them. If you’re after fame and money, try Simon Cowell.
Anything you want to share with readers about yourself, or previous, current or upcoming EC releases?
I’m a screaming ball of crazy. My books reflect this. Mad, Bad & Dangerous is about a snarky shapeshifter and a feckless mage who can’t actually do magic. It’s the sequel to Almost Human, which was about an angry lion and a high-class prostitute. My favorite character to write is undoubtedly Striker—the father of Almost Human’s heroine—who is a total psychopath. He’s in MB&D too, mostly because I just really like him. I’m considering a third book, one with a retired courtesan and an amnesiac assassin. That could be fun.