Meet the Members: Cathie Hartigan

What do you write?
Short stories and novels – my debut novel, Secret of the Song, was published in September 2015. I’m also the co-author of a series of non-fiction guides for writers.

When and where do you write? 

The spare room is my office and it’s there I do most of my writing and the admin for CreativeWritingMatters, including all the competitions we run. Consequently, you can hardly see the surface of my desk, so when I can, I go to the Devon and Exeter Institution in Cathedral Yard. It’s a wonderful library as well as a great place to write with no distractions.

Best writerly moment?

Sorry, I’m going to have three best moments, because they’ve been so amazing.

The first time I was a runner up in the Woman and Home short story competition. It was the first time I’d submitted anything and was absolutely stunned to be placed anywhere. They told me over the phone and I can still remember being hardly able to speak.

Second moment? When I received the final cover art for Secret of the Song. Berni Stevens is a wonderful artist and she encapsulated everything about the book in the design. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Third moment was receiving a rave review on the blog Being Anne.  Anne Williams is one of Amazon’s top reviewers and when I read her review, I did shed tears. Wouldn’t you? I was even more chuffed to make it in her Books of the Year 2015 list. It’s the sort of thing you try not to think about when you’re writing.

Not a lot of people know this…

I used to teach tai chi. It’s a bit unbelievable to me these days!

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

This might seem like a strange answer but the book that finally gave me the permission to write back in the 1980’s was a non-fiction guide called The Right-Brain Experience by Marilee Zdenek. I don’t think it’s in print now. Its subtitle is: An intimate programme to free the powers of your imagination. You get the idea. It’s all rather new age, I know, but it did give me the confidence to begin.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Find out what sort of writer you are. A lot of people come to classes wanting to be a best-sellers (actually we all do), but some try to be like Lee Child when they are much more like Katie Fforde. It’s great to be like either, but not if it’s going against your own grain.