An Exclusive Authorlink Interview with Catherine Mulvany
Author of Run No More (Pocket Star Books/Simon & Schuster, October 2004),
By Doris Booth
What is the use of running when you are on the wrong road? Proverb
Thus begins Catherine Mulvany's intriguing novel, Run No More (Pocket Star Books/Simon & Schuster, October 2004). While Mulvany has written several short romance novels for the now defunct Bantam imprint Loveswept, she considers Run No More her first "big" book.
In this suspenseful tale, jewel thief Ian MacPherson is confined to a wheelchair after Alex, his partner in the heist of a museum treasure, steals the artifact for himself and tries to murder Ian by dropping him from the rope by which they descended into the gallery. Ian is now about to end his crippled life by blowing his brains out in his palatial home when a tiny young blond, Tasya, wriggles in through the dog door of his kitchen seeking food. Distracted from the death wish, Ian lays down his gun and decides to seek revenge against Alex by training Tasya to pirate the treasure away from his enemy. Such sweet revenge. But Tasya, too, has an enemy. Richard is the violent ex-husband who keeps her on the run, a step ahead of death.
We won't spoil the read by telling the rest of the story, which weaves its spell from this world into yet another. Mulvany uniquely combines time travel, thriller, and love story into one spellbinding tale with a masterful plot. Her work is succinct, accessible, and imaginative. She's a breath of fresh air for thriller enthusiasts, delivering a quirky read that's at once fun and hard to put down.
In this exclusive Authorlink interview, she talks of braving piles of rejection letters to realize her lifelong dream. "Ian wound up
the hero. He simply took
over the book."
Mulvany AUTHORLINK: Where did you get the idea for this book?
MULVANY: I remember old movies starring Ricardo Montalbon, who is confined to a wheelchair in real life, and have always thought he would make a perfect villain for a thriller. The book originally had an FBI agent as the lead character and Ian as the guy in the wheelchair. But the FBI agent bored me. Ian wound up the hero. He simply took over the book. I had to figure out a way to make him both a villain and a sympathetic heroto make both sides of him work. Though he is a thief, he has always been a decent person. His values are strong, but he is flawed.
AUTHORLINK: You make several scene changes within many of the chapters. Most of the time such shifts would be distracting, but you managed to make them work. Why did you choose this approach?
MULVANY: I just naturally write that way. I'm impatient. I don't like really long scenes. I want to get to the point and move on. "I consider Meredith
[Bernstein, the agent]
my good luck charm."
Mulvany AUTHORLINK: Who is your agent and how did you find one to handle this work?
MULVANY: I had a different agent for the Loveswept books, but when I finished the thriller I queried Meredith Bernstein, and she asked to see the whole book. She wanted a few changes, but when she was satisfied, she sent the work to Maggie Crawford, executive editor at Pocket. I consider Meredith my good luck charm.
AUTHORLINK: Then the book has been through revisions?
MULVANY: Meredith suggested changes before we submitted the book, then Maggie suggested changes, too, after the book was sold. Every change has helped the book. They both have an eye for structure. Maggie was enthusiastic about the project. That's balm to a writer's heart.
"I have been rejected
perhaps 50 times or more,
so I'm numb to it."
Mulvany AUTHORLINK: You've had to face a lot of rejection. How did it feel, and how did you overcome the feelings?
MULVANY: Oh, I have had a long line of rejections! They don't hurt now like they once did. If I feel strongly about what I have submitted I don't bother with being turned away. You simply have to hit the right editor. Frankly, it's mostly luck.
I have been rejected perhaps 50 times or more, so I'm numb to it. I'm really stubborn, and that has helped me find the right agent. I feel you have to have an agent these days because there are so few places you can send your work without being represented.
AUTHORLINK: How did you go about deciding that Meredith was the right agent for you?
MULVANY: Twice a year Romance Writers of America publishs a list of approved agents. I went through the names and made a list of those who sounded like the best fit for my work. Meredith was at the top of my list because she liked paranormal romance, and Run No More has strong paranormal elements.
AUTHORLINK: Did you think it strange when Meredith wanted to submit to Pocket?
MULVANY: I was amazed. I had no idea that Pocket published so much paranormal romance. I thought they published historicals.
AUTHORLINK: How long have you been writing?
MULVANY: The truth is, I've been writing off and on since I was 9 years old. I completed my first novel at age 12. It was absolutely hideous. No conflict. It was all about my dream life. I wrote another manuscript in high school and completed a few short stories. By the time I got to college there was no time for writing. My next big push came right before I had my first child. I didn't know what I was doing. I blindly sent out queries. Then I stopped writing until my youngest child was in kindergarten. When I began again, I told myself I had just two years to get published. If I hadn't landed a deal in that time it would be tough luck. I'd get a real job. Of course, that was a ridiculous goal. I wrote four books in two years, but gave up and went back to school to become a teacher. I have been teaching fulltime for about 15 years now. Altogether, I've been writing for 12 years.
AUTHORLINK: Where did you learn to write?
MULVANY: I think writers are born. They can learn a lot in school, and by reading other writers, but some elements you cannot teach.
Recently I went back to school to earn my masters degree, and I was whining to my principal that I didn't want to get a degree in administration. She told me that I could get a master's in anything I wanted. I said, "You mean I could get a masters in writing?" She said, "Yes, of course." So that's what I did. I found a program that allowed me to do most of my work in online classes, I received my degree in popular fiction at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa. I wrote Run No More as my master's thesis.
AUTHORLINK: When do you find time to write?
MULVANY: When my children were younger, I used to have my computer in the dining room, and I wrote among the chaos. Thankfully, I now have my own office. Because I am a full-time teacher, I don't write during the week. I only write on the weekends. I turn out 10 pages a day, or 20 pages every weekend. During the summers when I am off I write all the time. Since this past June 1 I have written 470 pages.
AUTHORLINK: Wow! Do the words just flow out of you?
MULVANY: No. Writing is like torture. It takes me about one hour per page. And it takes me a long time to do revisions, though I like the revision process. For me, that's when the book truly comes into focus.
". . . when I want to make
music, I make music
Mulvany AUTHORLINK: What do you most dislike about the process?
MULVANY: I hate a blank computer screen. I am tone deaf, so when I want to make music, I make music with words. A blank page stays silent until I fill it with words.
AUTHORLINK: What was the hardest part of writing Run No More?
MULVANY: My hardest job was writing about the character Richard, Tasya's ex-husband. He was disgusting, so much so that we cut some of the ugliest scenes from the book. I didn't want to be in his head.
The other tough thing is to just get words down on paper–the rough shape of the story. I am not good at making outlines. I never follow them anyway.
AUTHORLINK: Do you know where the story will go before you write it?
MULVANY: I have a basic idea. I know the high points and how it will end. But I don't know how I'm going to get from one place to another. There is no easy way to do this. I just keep working until I get it right. "I am living a dream
that I have had since
I was 9 years old."
Mulvany AUTHORLINK: How does it feel to be a published author?
MULVANY: It's wonderful. I am living a dream that I have had since I was 9 years old. It's funny, though. I don't have time to enjoy the feeling because I am focused on writing my next book. I have to rush because it's due in November.
AUTHORLINK: Can you talk about the next tale?
MULVANY: The working title is Shadows All Around Her, and Pocket is also buying this one. In a way it is similar to Run No More, in that it is also a romantic suspense with paranormal elements.
AUTHORLINK: Have you had to do any self promotion on this book?
MULVANY: Pocket has done a fabulous job of promoting the book. I asked them if there was anything I should be doing. They asked me to develop a web site, but they said that's all that is necessary. They would do the things that needed to be done to support the book. I'm supposed to be writing. "If you are out there trying,
you are bound to hit the right
person on the right day."
Mulvany AUTHORLINK: What do you want people to think about you and your work over the course of time?
MULVANY: I would like for readers to enjoy my books. And, of course, I'd like to make the New York Times list.
AUTHORLINK: Do you have any advice for first time authors who are trying to break into publishing?
MULVANY: Don't give up. I see so many talented people who have given up. So much of getting published is about luck. If you are out there trying, you are bound to hit the right person on the right day. But if you don't send your work out, you have a 100 percent chance of not selling. So many wonderful writers give up too soon. Keep at it.
Catherine Mulvany and her husband live in the country in Eastern Oregon where the nearest city is Boise, Idaho. Her three children are now grown. Doris Booth