Monday, July 06, 2009

Meeting New Zealand Writer Cat Connor

Cat Connor has a book called killerbyte published with rebel epublishers.

Your mystery, killerbyte, is an online book. What are the advantages of publishing this way?

How much time do you have? Publishing with an e-publisher is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional presses. No carbon miles involved in publishing or distributing my books! Even the artwork is created in environmentally friendly ink etc. The other advantage is being released on a global scale immediately and not having to sell foreign rights. Plus – it’s so easy to download and read right away.
For killerbyte, the e-book made a lot of sense. It deals with issues of internet safety and use of the internet is prevalent throughout the story, so what better medium for a thriller like killerbyte than an e-book?

Your protagonists, Cormac Connelly and Gabrielle Conway, are a cop and a Federal Agent. How did you come up with their characters?

I hate to say this- but Mac (Cormac) was a stock trader, not a cop. :) (Although he does enjoy police work, and he joins the FBI after killerbyte. He holds special agent status in the next book.)

As for how I came up with the characters, they came to me. The initial idea for killerbyte evolved as the characters told me their story. Ellie came first and from thin air! Mac was a mix of imagination and a very good friend.

All of your main characters have Irish names. Is this a tribute to your Irish heritage?

It was actually unintentional, or maybe a subconscious thing. There are a lot of Irish out there . . . we’re prolific, ya know. :)

There are lots of really gross murders in your mystery, and Ellie is constantly getting hurt. Do you see this as a reality of being a special agent?

Not so much. I think it would be rare for a special agent to get into the situations Ellie does. She’s quite a freak magnet.

Ellie does have a bit of bad luck in the injury department; none of them are her fault as such. Having her throat cut by an assailant – then being drugged and slipping on a towel in the bathroom – they weren’t exactly highlights for her.

Still she’s young enough to think she’s ten feet tall and bulletproof. She’s also contrary, and that doesn’t help. She’ll learn with experience, I hope!

You tell the story from two points of view; why did you want to present the mystery from both Ellie’s and Mac’s perspectives?

The story is almost entirely Ellie’s point of view, but Mac wanted a shot at his side, and begged me to let him! Quite frankly, at the time, Ellie was unconscious and not capable of arguing. So, he has a small chapter. Since it’s a character-driven novel, it works better to let the characters take the lead.

You seem to possess some knowledge about both police and medical procedures. Do you have experience in either of these areas?

Yes to both questions. I spent five years working with police, asking a lot of questions, and going out on lots of patrols. This led to an incident whereby I was removed from a jury (and I LOVE jury service, I really do!) and invited/escorted to the judge’s chambers.– It was an accident, kinda- and led to the arresting officer (from the case I was removed from) being told off by the judge for not declaring our relationship earlier. (I was quite stunned because I hadn’t realized we HAD a relationship!) He wasn’t in court when the jury selection was made, and I didn’t recognize his full name!

We recognized each other as the trial began, and he told the prosecutor. Then it was into the judge’s chambers for a discussion on how well we knew each other… apparently me wearing his jacket, setting up checkpoints, and doing walks through hotels meant we knew each other too well for me to return to the jury box.

Lucky really, because about that point I remembered being in the tactic room when the call came in about the case now in front of the jury! I knew way more about the case than I initially thought I knew. Whew!

I wasn’t called again that week, but still had to turn up every day. I spent the week at the back of the courtroom with the bailiff and judge waving to me every morning. (I’m still sorry, Doug - but it was funny, you have to admit, it was funny!)

As for the medical facts and procedures: I’m lucky enough to be able to count an emergency department nurse as a close friend and to have access to emergency department doctors via him.

Some of the scenes in killerbyte involve firsthand knowledge, but friend Eric vetted all the medical scenes. Some scenes caused much amusement, especially the ones involving the drug ketamine. We’re looking for a human guinea pig for a small experiment involving toothpaste and ketamine; any takers?

Is killerbyte your first book?

It’s my first published book. I wrote three books prior to writing killerbyte. I think of them fondly, but they will stay hidden away on my hard drive for now! They had a few similarities to killerbyte in that the main character is a female and an FBI agent. She actually makes an appearance in a few later Conway novels as the Director. It’s great to be able to recycle. (Director O’Hare appears in Terrorbyte, Exacabyte, and Ethernet.)

Your main characters are law enforcement officials, but they also run a poetry chat room. How did you come to combine serial killers, cops, and poetry?

If you get enough death threats while running a poetry chat room, your mind starts putting things together. Probably not everyone’s mind, but mine seems to be continually asking, “What if?” and “Now what?”

It [the chat room] is quite a twisted place, where it seems quite normal to take an internet death threat (or ten) and turn it into a novel.

Poetry is a universal outlet – there are poets hidden in all walks of life. (Even cops and special agents write poetry)

You live in New Zealand. Have you always lived there? If not, how did you end up there?

I am a New Zealander, and New Zealand is my home.

What’s the most beautiful thing about New Zealand?

Me? Oh you mean scenery? Not me, then?

There is much beauty in this country. I love the Marlborough Sounds, the Southern Alps, and most of the South Island. From the north it’s the volcanic mountains in the middle of the Island, and then the rocky southern coasts with their cliffs and crashing waves – and seal colonies.

But the thing I love the most is Wellington City at night- as seen from the Ferry. Possibly because I know I’m home.

I dislike trolls, hobbits, and other remnants of LOTR. (But especially trolls)

What are you writing now?

The electronic rights to Terrorbyte sold to Rebel e Publishers on June 26th. So I’m currently working with my editor (I never get tired of saying MY editor) and have just about finished the first round of edits. Terrorbyte will be available before the end of the year.

As for what I’m writing, I’m well into the fifth Conway novel (Satellite) and am working on a short story based on Ellie’s life before killerbyte. Although it’s turning out to be not such a short story after all: maybe a novella.

How did you hook up with Rebel e publishers

I can blame or thank Barry Eisler for that. But I think we’ll thank him! I met Joan through Barry’s forum.

It was just after Penguin NZ told me I wasn’t kiwi enough and passed on the first three Conway novels –despite loving the stories and my writing. They also suggested e-books to me, saying that there was going to be a big push toward e-books for some genres, mine included.

After meeting Joan on the forum and thinking about it for a few days, I decided to be cheeky and approach her publishing company. (I figured the worst they could say was no!) But Joan and Caroline didn’t say no! And I am so glad I did put myself out there! I couldn’t ask for a better team in my corner.

Thanks for chatting with me, Cat.

Thanks for having me, Julia!


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