Today I had the chance to interview Catherine Lundoff, the author of the new Werewolf novel Silver Moon.
Becca Thornton just found out she’s going to celebrate turning 50 by turning into a werewolf. And she’s not the only one. Wolf’s Point has its own Pack, all women of a “certain age,” and they want to claim her for their own. Then there’s the werewolf hunters, come to town with a cure for lycanthropy. Add to that her newfound feelings for the Pack’s Beta, and Becca Thornton is in for a wild ride.
Tell me about your new release, Silver Moon. Where did you get the idea?
Silver Moon is about a woman named Becca Thornton who, much to her surprise, turns into a werewolf just as she enters menopause. It’s about dealing with growing older in a society that doesn’t value middle-aged and old women, and about becoming who you really want to be and about falling in love with someone you really don’t expect to feel that way about. And it’s about werewolves. Lots of werewolves.
I think I started to consider the idea for the book when I first saw the movie Ginger Snaps, then subsequently read Suzy McKee Charnas’ story “Boobs.” Both deal with young women who are attacked by werewolves during their menses, though they are very different works apart from that. At any rate, they got me thinking more about female werewolves, as well as the dearth of older female protagonists in sf/f/h. It seemed to me that if lycanthropy could be associated with one phase of a woman’s life (menses), then why not another (menopause)? Then editor JoSelle Vanderhooft asked me to write something for an anthology of lesbian werewolf novellas and I decided that this was a good opportunity to play with that idea. After that, the characters just refused to let go, which in turn led to one novel and another in progress.
You’ve done a lot different things, from archaeology to owning a bookstore. How have your experiences worked their way into your work?
In some cases, the relationship is pretty direct. I’ve written a few short stories set in bookstores as well as at least one about an archaeologist. At one point, I also worked at a bar that boasted the largest collection of Elvis memorabilia outside Memphis and had an annual Elvis’ birthday celebration. That inspired a story about Elvis impersonators. Apart from that, I try not to write directly about work, at least not while I’m at that particular job. But I think that any place where you spend significant periods of time every week is going to influence how you think, as well as how you structure your writing time. It’s easier or more difficult for me to write, depending on what I’m doing as a day job and what kind of mental energy I need to put into it. For the last twelve years, I’ve been working in IT and that seems to inspire me to write unfinished murder mysteries, but that’s another story.
I also see that you write nonfiction. How do the two differ?
For me, it’s like using a different part of my brain. For example, I find that I need to outline my nonfiction to get my thoughts organized but when I write fiction, I’m more of a pantser. When I first started writing, I wrote for a couple of small newspapers, everything from a regular column to writing features. Since then, I’ve written articles for a several magazines and websites and for Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy: An Encyclopedia. I think that learning to write nonfiction for publication is excellent practice for any fiction writer. Articles tend to be a specific word length on a specific topic and are often written to deadline. You may also have to query for assignments. All of these are useful skills to have, regardless of whether or not you choose to concentrate on nonfiction.
Your bio says that you quit law school after selling your first story. Were the two incidents related?
Oh yes! Law school was not a good fit for me, especially at that time in my life. The short version is that utter misery made me telekinetic: I’d walk into the kitchen and dishes would slide off the counter on the other side of the room, apparently driven to ceramic suicide by my levels of angst. Right before I started law school, I began writing a nonfiction book (something my wife suggested to me as a way to keep me out of trouble ☺) and was enjoying that far more than law school. Around that same time, I read a short story I didn’t like and decided I could write something better. I wrote the story, sold it about six weeks later and quit law school at the end of the semester to give writing a try. It turned out to be a much better fit.
I see that you are a member of several professional organizations. Can you tell my readers a little about the usefulness of professional organizations?
Yep, I’m in SFWA, Broad Universe, Outer Alliance and GCLS, as well as Romance Writers of America (RWA). I think different organizations provide different opportunities and services for writers. SFWA, RWA and GCLS are professional writer’s organizations, and provide such services as marketing and informational publications, legal information for writers, events, awards and online communities. Broad Universe and Outer Alliance are advocacy organizations that also include readers, librarians and other publishing professionals as well as writers. They publicize members’ work, organize readings, host parties, host vendor tables and maintain email groups for discussion. These and organizations like them are excellent resources for writers. Take a look at what different organizations provide and decide what they can do for you and what you can do to participate. Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet new writers and readers and it makes these organizations more effective.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a sequel to Silver Moon, as well as a couple of other novels in progress and some short stories for various anthologies. I’m the kind of writer who always needs to have several projects going at the same time. Keeps life interesting and keeps me engaged.
What are the themes you work into your writing?
I’ve been gradually shifting writing genres from erotica to fantasy so I think my answer to that question is different from how I might have answered a few years back. Then I would have said that I wrote about sex and death, as both universal and individual experiences. Now I think I write more about transformation and perception, mostly in terms of how my protagonists perceive changes they are experiencing. The extent to which going through menopause might feel like turning into a werewolf for some women would be my most recent and obvious example, but I’ve also been working with other kinds of transformations: changing genders and bodies, coming out, aging. I think that how we handle change is critical to how we function as human beings, which is why I think it’s become more of a theme in my fiction.
Where are you appearing next?
I’ll be doing a series of readings to launch Silver Moon: Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago on 5/19; Outwords Cafe and Bookstore in Milwaukee on 5/22; then a launch at the Outer Alliance party and a reading at WisCon in Madison. After that, it’s back to Minneapolis for the GCLS Conference to be followed by a release reading at Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis on 6/21. I’ll also be at several local Twin Cities conventions and at Worldcon in Chicago over Labor Day weekend. It’s going to be a very full year!
Where can readers find you?
My website is at www.catherinelundoff.com, and I blog (x-posted) at LJ and Dreamwidth as catherineldf. I’m also out on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as myself, Catherine Lundoff.
Is there anything I’ve forgotten?
Not that I can think of. Thank you so much for interviewing me! I really appreciate you taking the time.
Catherine Lundoff is the award-winning author of the collections Night’s Kiss (Lethe Press, 2009) and Crave (Lethe Press, 2007) as well as A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace and Other Stories (Lethe Press, 2011). Silver Moon (Lethe Press, 2012) is her first novel. She is also the editor of the acclaimed anthology Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories (Lethe Press, 2008) and the co-editor, with JoSelle Vanderhooft, of Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic (Lethe Press, 2011). She periodically teaches writing classes at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and elsewhere. www.catherinelundoff.com