New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written thirty-four books that have collectively sold more than seven million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages.
CP: Hi, Catherine, it’s exciting to meet you!
CB: It's my pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.
CP: When talking about yourself, you always outline that first of all you are a mother. Is it important to you, that your sons are proud of the work you do as a writer?
CB: It certainly factors in now. I think the key word there is "sons". Considering I've made a name for myself in romance novels... well you can imagine how that was received growing up. Their guy friends gave them a hard time and tried to read the kissing parts out loud which grossed them out. Their girlfriends always wanted copies. But as the dust settled, their views have changed. And now that they are 23 and 20, they are very proud of what it is that I do. At the end of the day, I'm just mom. And writing is my work.
CP: Being best-selling author with more than 7 million sold copies of your books, your story echoes with the one of J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter creator. Similarly, she’s been a mother while her success in writing was not something she took for granted. Have you thought of this parallel? Do you somehow associate yourself with Joanne?
CB: I can honestly say I've never thought of that parallel. At least not with J.K. Rowling in particular. However, I have met many writers that were also parents. We carve out time in the day and night, between kids, school, sports...and we write. In the end becoming successful is a surprise to us all. Never in a million years did I dream or believe I'd have the reader base that I do. Writers write because we have stories in our heads that need to come out. It doesn’t surprise me any longer that many of our stories are the same.
CP: When you were young, you moved to South California to become a movie star. Do you still have this dream?
CB: Do I stand in front of the mirror singing into my brush? Or shout out one-liners like, “No one puts Baby in the corner.” Yup. But I no longer have the desire to act for a living. I could see myself on a community theater stage as a cameo. I absolutely loved “becoming someone else” on stage. But now I can become every character and direct their actions and words with every page I write. So in a crazy kind of way, I achieved that dream.
CP: It was not always that you earned your living by writing. At some point you worked as a full-time nurse. Did you translate this experience in one of your books?
CB: Absolutely. My years as an Emergency Room RN in a level two trauma center often finds ways into my work. There is simply too much material in those years to now draw on it in fiction. I have characters that were nursing students, trauma nurses, ER doctors, doctors and Nurses Without Boarders. I’ve placed other characters in the hospital with sick kids, accident victims, and survivors of abuse. Not Quite Enough and Not Quite Forever are two that stand out. But several more have bits and pieces of my life as a nurse.
CP: When was this moment when you realized that writing is something you would like to do full time?
CB: I remember that day. I had written my first manuscript. A whole book with a beginning and a middle and an end. Characters grew and stuff happened and the book was awful and will never be published. But I learned that I could write a whole book and immediately got started on the next one. It was two chapters into Binding Vows I realized I wanted to do this forever. I re-read those chapters and told myself that I could do this. I told my then husband that I was going to be a writer. He asked what we were having for dinner.
CP: What experience did you put as a base of My Way To You?
CB: On July 22, 2016, the Sand Fire erupted out of the hillsides and onto my property of twenty years. My home was backed up against the Angeles National Forest with dense and moisture starved vegetation. California was in its seventh year of drought and that fire consumed over fifty miles of hillsides before it arrived at my doorstep. I was just pulling out of the fog my divorce had created and doing everything I could to keep my children in their childhood home so they could graduate from high school without a traumatic move. Only the universe had other plans. My home was spared, but much of my property and barns were not. I truly thought the fire was the hardship, but then mother natured dumped 200% of her normal rainfall and my property was covered in tons of mud for the next six months. Like with every difficult time, there are heroes in the mix. From the firefighters to the public works employees, I had so many blessings in that dark time. So what’s a writer to do? I wrote a book. I did everything in my power to give a voice to the silent heroes and show the world what it is like to survive such a difficult time.
CP: What is your biggest dream right now?
CB: I want to continue to do what I do and reach even more readers. I have very personal stories I want to share to inspire others to rise up and achieve great things. But at the very basic level, I want my family healthy and happy so we can grow old together.
CP: What would be your advice for the beginner authors who are afraid to take a big step and make writing their career?
CB: My answer to this is always the same. WRITE! Write the books and learn your craft. Rejections are part of the landscape so expect them, but don’t let them knock you down. Learn and grow and keep writing. This is the absolutely best job in the world and if you’re a storyteller, you owe it to yourself to try.
CP: Thank you so much for the interview! We wish you lots of success with the launch of My Way To You!
CB: Thank you for having me.
My Way To You by Catherine Bybee is on sale March 10, 2020. For more information visit: www.catherinebybee.com.