Welcome to Author Cate Tiernan
I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on July 24th, 1961. New Orleans was a great place to grow up in then—still family-friendly but with a ready acceptance of eccentricity and the darker side of life. We lived in a little house on a little street, but our yard seemed huge, and my brother and I were given a big chunk of it in the back, where we could dig holes or do whatever we wanted. So we built little huts and roofed them with huge banana tree leaves, and when it rained we stood under elephant ears so big that two kids could stand under one and not get wet. We dug enormous holes and filled them with water and jumped into them. We climbed trees and jumped off the roof of our garage.
I remember spending a lot of time by myself, just playing complicated imagination games. Our TV was black and white and there were only three stations, so we didn’t spend too much time in front of it. In my neighborhood there were only one or two other girls, so I played mostly with my brother and some of the boys next door. I was an excellent tomboy, and did well at games like “Behind the German Line” and “Paratrooper.”
Even when I was little, I knew that New Orleans was a special place. The cemeteries were wonderful, and we explored the ones we could walk to. I still love cemeteries, and try to visit them when I’m traveling. Mardi Gras was a huge event every year, and my mother made us terrific costumes. My parents had interesting friends who were artists and potters and writers, and we would visit them in the French Quarter.
My high school was a public school called Ben Franklin, and back then it was housed in an old former courthouse not far from the Mississippi River. The high school that Morgan Rowlands (in Sweep) goes to is based on that building. I also went to a performing arts high school half a day for three years; two years for visual art and one year for writing. There was no air conditioning, only big fans and open windows, and the heat was stifling sometimes. It was almost impossible to stay awake after lunch on hot days.
I enjoyed college because I could choose what I wanted to study, and the classes were at different times on different days. It felt more flexible and catered to how I wanted to learn. I went to New York University and studied writing and Russian language and literature. I had some terrific teachers, but I just never really got what they were talking about, the whole “how to write” thing. And I was never able to write anything longer than three pages. But one of my teachers wrote on one of my papers that I had a genuine stylistic gift (despite all my other shortcomings as a writer), and I still think of those words with pleasure.
I finally graduated from Loyola University, in New Orleans, with a degree in Russian. In my mid-twenties I moved back to New York and got a job as an assistant at Random House. I worked for the head of the Juvenile Audio and Video department, and was surrounded by children’s books and editors and people who read as much as I did. I learned so much, and decided I could write a children’s book too. So I locked the door of my office (somehow I had an actual office, which was unusual) every day for an hour at lunch, for ten days, and I wrote a book.
And I sold it and it got published.
I did all sorts of chapter books and middle-grade books under different names, and ghost-wrote for some popular series. They were all learning experiences. Eventually I moved back down to New Orleans because I wanted my children to be born there. While I lived down there, a friend of mine who was an editor contacted me to write Sweep. She gave me a one-page description of the series, which basically said, “Teenage girl discovers she’s a witch.” It was such an amazing, brilliant idea, and it sparked an entire new universe inside me that I tried to put down on paper. My books always describe how I wish the world was, how I wish reality was.
I was crushed when Sweep ended, but by then I was already developing Balefire, and that was a whole new seductive universe. I set it in New Orleans so I could describe the beauty and otherworldliness of the city, and I put in my old hangouts and had the characters do some of the things I’d done as a teenager. Katrina hit while I was in the middle of writing the fourth book of Balefire, and I watched the news on TV and knew that my hometown would never be the same. The fourth book described the city as it was before the flood, and I sat there and cried for days as I wrote about things that no longer existed.
Now there’s Immortal Beloved, which will come out in fall of 2010, from Little, Brown. In some ways it’s a combination of all my favorite things about Sweep and Balefire—the notion of love that lasts for hundreds of years, a world filled with magick and possibilities. It’s been my biggest challenge, but I believe I did Nastasya’s story justice. I hope you think so too.
Nowadays I live in North Carolina with my daughters and husband and stepsons. Our house is surrounded by land and woods and it feels like we’re in the country. We have dogs and cats and lots of stuff going on all the time. It’s a good life.
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Probably some of my cousins. We’re a really fun bunch.
What is one book everyone should read?
The Dance of Anger, by Harriet Lerner. If everyone read this, the world would be a better place.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Besides bacon? I’m very much into baked goods of almost any description. Bring me carbs.
One food you would never eat?
My mom likes cold tongue sandwiches. (A big beef tongue, cooked and sliced.) I’m like, no.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
I think we all have Nastasya’s vulnerabilities and uncertainties, and I think reading the book might help people feel less alone and more empowered.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Always. The question is, which one do I want to pursue?
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I always feel very humbled when people tell me that my books helped get them through a rough time. Books are always escapes for us, but I’m grateful to think that my books provided a necessary escape for someone.
If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?
Probably the Harry Potter world. I thought it was so amazingly compelling and creative and totally workable.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Know what you to say, and who you want to say it to. You’re not just telling a story–you’re communicating with people. Why? What do you hope they get from it?
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I see myself (at least a little bit) in all of my characters, even the evil ones. I think writers (like actors) have to be able to deeply empathize with other people, really be able to get into their heads.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Feelings are just feelings, and feelings by themselves don’t have the power to hurt you. You’re in control of your feelings, and you can change them. They have no power on their own. That was a life-changing realization.
I’m a good baker. I make beautiful cakes and fabulous cookies. Every year at Christmas, I make thousands of cookies for the kids to give to all their teachers. I love it.
Always a Snickers bar, nature’s perfect food.
You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
I would set money aside my kids’ college educations. If there was anything left over, I would buy a house. I like houses.
What do you do in your free time?
Free time? Ha ha ha. What is this thing you call “free time?”
What’s your favorite season/weather?
Summer. I’m a summertime person. I like living outside, I like water and sunshine and summer storms.
In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
No one. Maggie Stiefvater and I were talking about that–neither of us thought we could ever collaborate. We both get too attached to our own writing and ideas.
Harry Potter or Twilight?
PC or Mac?
What is you favorite way to spend a rainy day?
Curled up somewhere cozy, reading and/or cooking.
Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved #2)
Nastasya has lived for hundreds of years, but for some reason, life never seems to get any better. She left her spoiled, rich girl life to find peace at River’s Edge, a safe haven for wayward immortals. There, she learned to embrace River’s Edge, despite some drama involving the sexy Reyn, who she wants but won’t allow herself to have. But just as she’s getting comfortable, her family’s ties to dark magick force her to leave.
She falls back into her old, hard partying ways, but will her decision lead her into the hands of a dark immortal? Or will it be her first step to embracing the darkness within her?
1 printed copy of Darkness Falls
Also by Cate Tiernan
Immortal Beloved (Book #1)
4 Books in the Balefire Series
15 Books in the Wicca/Sweep Series ~ Book of Shadows, The Coven, Blood Witch, Dark Magick, Awakening, Spellbound, The Calling, Changeling, Strife, Seeker, Origins, Eclipse, Reckoning, Full Circle, Night’s Child