Hilarious Author Catherine Walsh Sits Down with The Booky Babe to Talk About Writing Journey
Hi friends. Remember the book, Holiday Romance, that I talked about not too long ago? The one I mentioned that was so cute I could barf? Well, hang on to your butts because I have a surprise! I was able to sit down with the author of said nauseatingly romantic novel, Catherine Walsh. She allowed me to pick her brain about her writing process and a lot of other fun things. Before we get started however, I must get the niceties out of the way. If you aren't already, please make sure you are following The Booky Babe on Instagram! If you don't the Christmas elves will completely skip over you this year. I'll make sure of it myself.
Once you've follow the Instagram page, direct your attention to the Facebook page and give us a quick like over there. I know, I know. I'm asking a lot.
Alright. Now that boring stuff is out of the way, let's get into the real reason why you're here. Catherine Walsh has released two books so far, with the third one being the infamous Holiday Romance due to be released on October 4th,2022. She was born and raised in Ireland, which you may be able to glean from the fact that her books are usually set in, or including Ireland at some point. When she is not writing her hilarious romantic comedies, she is doing her best to keep her houseplants alive. She was willing to sit with The Booky Babe and allow her brain to be picked at for a bit. I love being able to talk with authors about their writing processes, what makes them comfortable, and how they combat writer's block. I mostly like to gather this information for myself so I have something to look back on when my brain inevitably locks up and refuses to let me type a coherent sentence, but I figure you might be interested in it as well.
You can edit the words later, but you need to write them first
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?
“You can’t edit a blank page” – Jodi Picoult. I am a big believer in the terrible first draft. This is the draft that nobody (and I mean nobody) sees but me. The writing is clunky, the characters inconsistent, and the storyline spills into ten different directions. It can cause a lot of panic at times, but learning not to worry about
getting my words perfect the first time around unlocked something in me as a writer. It taught me that writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint and that the finished project is not going to look like it did at the start. You can edit the words later, but you need to write them first.
What was one of the most surprising things you’d learned in creating your books?
Oh, this is a hard one! I suppose how much research you have to do for the tiniest of things. For example in Holiday Romance, I spent a lot of time mapping out flight paths and researching storms and timelines, and what-ifs in the aviation world. I could spend days learning about something just for a passing comment that most readers might not even register. It’s important to me that a passing comment is all it is though. It’s a pet peeve of mine in books when an author has done their research
and wants everyone to know. The research should ground the story, not overtake it.
How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?
Nothing can prepare you for a negative review. There’s no real advice for authors other than to ‘just ignore them’, which is… not helpful. They’re impossible to ignore, and they can be incredibly hurtful. I have definitely cried over one or two in the past. Now, I think the best thing one can do in the age of social media is to understand what your boundaries are and stick to them. For me, I try not to go on sites such as NetGalley or Goodreads, and once a book is published, I steer clear of Amazon. I am a big believer that reviews are for readers and are nothing to do with me, though I try my best to read and respond when someone specifically tags me on places like Instagram and Twitter. I am only rarely tagged in bad reviews on these sites, and when I am, I add these people to my very long grudge list. I am also a firm fan of a long, wailing voice note to friends. Depends on the day.
What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser? (do you plan out every
detail out or do you just sit down and write?)
I am a mixture of both! I always have a ‘hook’ (also known as the ‘elevator pitch’) and a one-page synopsis (brief summary of the whole novel). My publisher signs off on this before I start, but that’s about as much planning as I do and I don’t spend very long on it. That’s because I don’t know who my characters are before I start writing and until I know who they are, I don’t know what choices they’ll make. For
me, there’s no point in spending weeks planning out a story where Character A makes X decision, only to start writing and realize Character A would never make that decision at all. My favourite part of the writing process is discovering who these people are and the world they live in. While I tend to always follow the rough idea I set out with it, it’s allowing myself to fall down these extra rabbit holes that make the magic happen.
Nothing truly prepares you for a negative review. Cry if you must, then move on.
What do you do to combat writer’s block?
I’ve often found in the past that writer’s block usually means I’m not working on the right thing. Every project has bad moments. Every book has brick walls and days when you want to give up. I’ve learned to accept these and give myself time to navigate through them. However, when I’ve been truly stuck, when weeks have gone by and I can’t see my way out of the hole I’ve dug for myself, I’ve found the best thing to do is set the project to one side. The key thing though is to learn to differentiate between a few bad days and a wrong project.
Another aspect of this is figuring out what you should be writing. I’ve spoken with writers who tried working on novels for years before they switched to essays or short stories and are now much more productive. I’ve always known I was a novelist, but it took me a few years to figure out what genre I should be writing in. Some people get help finding out what they should be doing, but for most of us, it’s just trial and error. Never be afraid to switch it up and try something new if you’re
What advice would you give a writer working on their first book?
To finish it!! It is as simple and as hard as that. By finishing your book, you will have
gotten farther than 90% of writers out there. So put your head down and write.
Side Note: This last answer was definitely an unintentional jab at me😂. My current novel sits unfinished, taunting me and insulting me almost daily. I guess now I actually have to go finish it. *cries*
Well there you have it friends. What have we learned in today's lesson?
TDLR (Just in case you lazy) :
You can't edit a blank page. You can edit the words later, but write them first.
Research is required but should not overtake your writing
Negative reviews suck. Have a support system to listen to you vent about them
Have a basic idea for the story, but allow the characters to tell you the rest
When writer's block occurs, switch your focus. Or rest a bit and then come back
Finish the book. So many people start, but finishing is what sets you apart.
Grab one (preferably all) of Catherine's books here
Part two for this interview will be released a week from today. So make sure to come back and check out the rest. Find me on social media if you want to gush about how adorable Holiday Romance is. All hate mail will be persecuted. 🙃
Until next time,
Happy Reading Babes! ❤