Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Author Spotlight: Catherine Coulter

Creativity pulses through Catherine Coulter's veins. The internationally bestselling author of 68 novels (of which 60 have been New York Times bestsellers) is the granddaughter of a writer, and the daughter of parents who between them tally painting, singing, and playing concert piano among their impressive artistic gifts. Coulter's authorial palette is wide -- in addition to publishing several successful historical and modern romance series, as well as contemporary romantic thrillers, she's the author of a series of FBI thrillers that enjoys global popularity. The latest entry in Coulter's FBI series is titled Backfire. Featuring FBI agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich investigating the attempted assassination of a judge presiding over a blockbuster San Francisco murder trial, Backfire was released just a few days ago. Initial reviews are universally exuberant. It's no surprise Coulter has another well-deserved hit on her hands.

Understandably, Coulter's schedule is clamorous with events and appearances promoting Backfire. We're pleased Coulter found some time to share with us and answer a handful of questions for Gazalapalooza's readers. After all the adventures she has had with her FBI series, Coulter didn't even bat an eye at seating herself in the middle of the ring of electric fire that is the Gazalapalooza Author Spotlight. Her posture is straight in the stern wooden chair, her eyes are bright and wide, and she's the vision of calm, cool and collected despite the klieg lights' blazing glare. She's so ready. Let's get this Spotlight underway.

Gazala:    In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and why you choose them.

Coulter:    For fiction, the seven “Harry Potter” books. (Since you're spotting me Shakespeare, surely you'll allow some leeway for a series.) I'm an admitted muggle, and the thought of being an animagus thrills me to my core, but the fact is I simply don't tire of fighting dragons and searching for the elder wand.

As for non-fiction, this has to be a book whose pages I could use to light a signal fire to get rescued off your Dr. Moreau's island. Something really thick, lots of incomprehensible words, and utterly useless to me in my current circumstances. Something like the Physician's Desk Reference. (I'm assuming you're not selling drugs on the island.)

Gazala:    Your latest novel is an excellent and gripping thriller titled Backfire: An FBI Thriller. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about Backfire, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader.

Coulter:    Bottom line, it's all about fishing -- you know, hooks and bait dangling in all the right places. Truth is, if the reader has read the first 15 thrillers in my FBI series, and liked them, it ain't such a big leap. Anyone new I look at as a tuna and bring out my best lures. My very best lure: two disparate-seeming mysteries come together at the denouement -- all I can say is it's a miracle.

Gazala:    What are books for?

Coulter:    If there's no need for a signal fire, then you can start by stroking them, admiring their beautiful covers, marveling at all those words. Then you can simply hang it up and give yourself over to something magic, something that makes you forget the tea sitting at your elbow.

Gazala:    W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why?

Coulter:    I disagree. I mean, who can believe a person with that crazy name? Wait, there are three rules, I just felt them wash over me. Unfortunately, I can't identify them either. Don't you love a good mystery?

 Gazala:     Two unsmiling men in black suits are loitering by my front door, and I best go see what they want. Ask yourself a question, and answer it.

Coulter:    Q: Do you think there's such a thing as writer's block? A: I remember once I was having fits with a book, struggling to even get a couple of pages. Pulling teeth, mine and the characters’, and on page 80-something, the characters simply stopped dead in their tracks and wouldn't talk, wouldn't do anything. I thought about it, slept on it, then tossed the pages. I came up with an entirely different plot and the characters all gave me thumbs up. So, yeah, it's a block, but it's not caused by angst or stress or any sort of psychological malaise -- I think it's all because of a bad plot.

Even the three rules of how Coulter writes mysteries is a mystery? Intriguing. That's nothing but another good reason to snare your very own copy of Backfire. You can do that at Amazon simply by clicking right here.

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