Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Catherine Lundoff (she/her) is an award-winning writer, editor and publisher from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her books include Blood Moon, Silver Moon, Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories and Unfinished Business: Tales of the Dark Fantastic and as editor, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), as well as a number of published short stories in multiple genres. She is also the publisher at Queen of Swords Press, a small press publisher specializing in fiction from out of this world. www.catherinelundoff.net and http://www.queenofswordspress.com/
Thanks so much, Catherine, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
Catherine Lundoff: My first published work was also the first short story I ever wrote. I was in law school, discovering that misery made me telekinetic, when my girlfriend suggested that I try my hand at writing. I started a big nonfiction project, then decided to write some fiction too. My first story was a historical lesbian romance story, “M. Le Maupin” that was accepted for a magazine called Lesbian Short Fiction which was edited by longtime lesbian activist Jinx Beers. Jinx’s then-partner, celebrated fantasy artist Alicia Austin, drew the cover based on my story and I skipped home from the post office, hugging it all the way. Then I quit law school shortly thereafter and the rest, as they say, is history.
JSC: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
CL: Take notes! I carry a pad with me everywhere I go so that’s generally where the story seed notes go when they turn up. Sometimes, it’s a first line, sometimes, it’s an actual idea that I can build on later. And sometimes, it’s just an interesting note that Future Me finds much later and is completely baffled by.
JSC: How long have you been writing?
CL: I started writing in my early thirties and got published almost immediately so this year marks my quarter century as a writer. I also passed the half million published words threshold, too, so thanks for asking this question! I hadn’t realized that 2021 was so full of milestones!
JSC: What is the most heartfelt thing a reader has said to you?
CL: That my novel Silver Moon was their coming out novel! I mean, in all fairness, readers have said many lovely things about my stories and I cherish all of them, but this is the thing that really stood out for me. It’s such an honor for a queer writer to hear that something they wrote helped a reader find themselves.
JSC: What are your favorite parts of publishing?
CL: As a publisher or as a writer? Since I’m both, I’ll answer both. As a writer, I love getting acceptance letters, I love seeing my work get published and I love seeing readers discover it. I even enjoy rewriting and edits because it gives me a chance to make a story better. Oh, and getting paid is nice too.
JSC: What are your least favorite parts of publishing?
CL: The endless excitement of trying to keep the backlist active and to sell things while juggling publicity, publishing and even occasionally, writing. It’s a LOT of work and while I love it, there are stretches of time where all I want to do is sleep.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for this book?
CL: I like to think that menopausal werewolves chose me. I was invited to write a female werewolf story and I thought it was high time that teenagers stopped having all the lycanthropic fun. I blame the genesis of the idea on a medical website describing the “symptoms” of menopause. From there, I wrote a novella. Then a novel. Then two novels. Now, I am beginning to think about the third one.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
CL: I lived in books as a kid. They were a great way to escape my surroundings, which were…not great. When I was very young, I read fairy tales and historical fiction, like Robert Louis Stevenson. I aged into fantasy for kids like E. Nesbitt and Edward Eager and more historicals, including a whole lot of Alexandre Dumas, Sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen. I have a list of every book that I’ve read since I was ten years old, which is kind of wild in its way.
JSC: We know what you like to write, but what do you like to read in your free time, and why?
CJ: I like to mix it up. I enjoy fantasy of various kinds, but I also like cosier mysteries and some historical fiction. I like good histories that really dig into a time period or an individual’s life. I like science fiction that’s more about people than tech. I like some queer historical romances too!
JSC: What’s your drink of choice?
CL: Tea! I love tea, hot or iced! I even worked with a local tea company, Bingley’s Teas, to create a Queen of Swords Press tea blend called “Novel Chai” this year. It’s got a nice rich spicy taste to it and we’re hoping that it encourages people to check out both of our small businesses.
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
CL: So many miscellaneous projects! I’m writing a new queer fantasy novel on my Patreon (which benefits Queen of Swords Press), posting new chapters as I get them done. I’m looking at a new anthology project for next year and I’m working on edits for forthcoming books by Heather Rose Jones and Rem Wigmore. I’m also beginning to think about the next Wolves of Wolf’s Point book. So, nothing has publication dates yet, but lots of things in the planning stages. Stay tuned!
And now for Catherine’s new book: Blood Moon:
The Wolf’s Point werewolf pack, born from the magic that calls small groups of middle-aged women to embrace their inner and outer wolves, has been protecting the town for generations. Now Becca Thornton and the Pack have their hands (and paws) full of all the trouble they can handle. Plus a bit extra. Pack member Erin Adams just found a dead body in the trunk of her car and confessed to murder. But no one’s sure who the victim is and Erin can’t remember what happened. Did Erin fall off the wagon and murder a former foe? She doesn’t trust herself and Becca’s beginning to have her doubts.
If that wasn’t enough, Becca’s ex-husband sold their old house and their new neighbors are clearly up to something. Can the Pack solve the mystery and clear Erin’s name before the next full moon? Or do the town’s new residents have other plans?
Erin Adams looked out at the mountains and tried not to think about what was in the trunk of her car. At least the mountains around Wolf’s Point were still as beautiful as ever. She wondered if she’d ever get the chance to run through them again, feel the wind in her fur, the ground flying by under her paws. The Pack at her side.
That thought was enough to make her look back at her car. Erin rubbed her aching forehead with one hand and closed her eyes. This was, without question, the worst thing she’d ever done. Even if she couldn’t remember doing it.
But maybe there was still time to call Shelly and get her help to figure a way out of this mess that she’d blundered into. That was what Pack Alphas did, or so Shelly kept reminding her. But that might make Shelly an accessory if they got caught. Or rather, when she got caught. Erin closed her eyes for an instant; lying was never a thing she’d been good at or wanted to get good at. Anyone she called would almost certainly go down with her.
That thought weighed her down like a rock. The Pack couldn’t afford to be without its Alpha so soon after they got her back, not to mention what it would do to Pete and the kids. There was no way that she could drag Shelly into this.
Her thoughts turned to Becca, waded through a jumbled mess of emotions and came back with a single realization: they’d suspect her first. Becca was her friend, her housemate. Her…something they still hadn’t defined, but which felt more like girlfriend every day. Her stomach did a slow, leisurely flip when she thought about that and she almost smiled. But this wasn’t the time to think about Becca. She couldn’t afford to be distracted, to be vulnerable. Not now.
Maybe there was another solution, a way to hide what had happened. But then what? She’d still know and she’d have to carry the burden of what she’d done, alone. And she knew where that road led. Falling off the wagon to cope with her guilt wasn’t an option, either.
Besides, if she ditched the body out here and it was found, the regular wolves would certainly get blamed for it. The new governor was already pushing for a wolf hunting season and that would put things right over the edge. She didn’t want that on her conscience either; the wild wolves were kin as much as they were cover for the Pack and important for the local ecology.
Erin ran her fingers through her short-cropped brown hair, wondering if there was anyone else she could turn to. But she couldn’t think of any other Pack member who’d be able to do anything about this situation, not more than she could do herself, anyway. It certainly wasn’t the sort of thing that her AA sponsor had signed up for, or any of her friends, for that matter. So she was on her own. There was nothing for it but to lie in the bed she’d made for herself.
She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and selected a contact. “Hi. It’s Erin. I’ve done something…I need…can you come up to Spruce Point? Yes, it’s important. I want you to see it before Sheriff Henderson does.”
She clicked the phone off and glanced toward the road. Nothing to do now but wait.