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A quiet word with Catherine Schaff-Stump

 

  

Writer, researcher and teacher, Catherine Schaff-Stump (aka cathschaffstump) and I share something special.  Our debut novels came out on the same day, June 1st 2010.  Cath's book, Hulk Hercules, is a fun read, especially if you're familiar with Greek mythology. She kindly agreed to stop by today and answer my list of searching questions about herself and her work.

  

JON: Your novel, Hulk Hercules Professional Wrestler is a modern day twist on the Hercules myth. How did you come up with the idea?
CATHERINE: Hulk Hercules wasn’t my idea. Sonya Sipes, the publisher at Cats Curious Press, had heard me read a short story at Wiscon in 2007. She liked my style. I’d sent her a couple of serious short stories that didn’t work out for an anthology, but she remembered the light and comedic YA story I’d read, and in 2008, she approached me about writing a modern re-telling of the 12 Labors of Hercules. I said yes.
I was also look for an educational project for an endowed chair at my college, and when I proposed rewriting mythology for modern kids as part of Sonya’s project to the college, my proposal was accepted.
I was very lucky fate intersected in this way.

JON: Did you need to do a lot of research or were you already well-versed in Greek mythology?
CATHERINE: As a kid, I devoured every piece of Greek mythology I could get my hands on. Actually, I should have written this book when I was 12! I would have been so ready! Luckily, I knew a lot about Greek and Roman mythology, so research for the book was pretty easy.  
 

JON: What’s your preferred genre/wordcount? 
CATHERINE:
 
I’m a fantasy writer. I like to write fantasy that’s folkloric, and has something to do with variations on the world we live in right now. Word count? Well, that depends on the book. Hulk Hercules is around 40,000 words. The longest novel I’ve written so far is 80,000 words., after a lot of cutting.

I enjoy writing adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction. I write both humorous and serious works

JON: What’s your current WIP? 
CATHERINE:
 
There are 3.  I’m almost done with a young adult novel I’ve been working on for a little over a year—The Winter the Troll Danced with Old Nick—which is about adolescent trolls and frost elves in Decorah, Iowa, fighting the devil from Norwegian folklore. I’ve planned out The Were-Humans, which is a novella that will be set in small town Iowa in the 70s. It’ll be kind of gothic. Then I begin revamping a five-book series about a family of demon binders. I’ve written most of the third book, but I intend to do a huuuuuggggeee outline to get the whole series lock in step. I'm looking forward to that series.

JON: Are you a pantser or an outliner? 
CATHERINE:
 
Depends on the project. The troll book I’ve been pantsing, and that’s why it’s taken so long. Both the Were-Humans and the demon binder books will be planned out better. I’d like to save more time.Of course, the careful plans of my outlines are often destroyed by my characters, curse them!

JON: Where else can we find your work? 
CATHERINE:
 
At my site Writer Tamago (
http://cathschaffstump.com), there’s a publications page, which lists some of the short stories I have available for free at various sites on the Internet, and some other items for purchase. Besides Hulk Hercules, my novella Sister Night, Sister Moon available in the Needles and Bones collection from Drollerie Press.

JON: What are you currently reading? 
CATHERINE:
 
Alcestis, a retelling of Greek myth, by Katharine Beutner. Appropriate, eh? Also my husband and I read to each other on our morning commute. We are currently going through Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. We just finished a year of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I just finished Aaron McGruder's Boondock's collection A Right to Be Hostile, and I'm going to read Eleanor Gaskell's Cranford after the book I'm reading now.

I like reading widely in a variety of genres, in case you couldn't tell.

JON: What was the best writing advice you ever heard? 
CATHERINE:
Write what you write. Finish what you start. Send it away. Don’t worry about the rest. Be happy for the success of other writers.

JON: What was the worst? 
CATHERINE:
 
Write what sells. I am a believer in being true to the kind of story I write. Really, I can't do anything else, regardless of what happens.  I'm afraid you won't be seeing a zombie book from me any time soon, for example. 

JON: What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you first started writing? 
CATHERINE:
 
Writing requires you to be a very patient person. Even patient people need to be more patient than they are, once they start writing. It used to bother me that I wouldn't hear about a submission for perhaps six months. Now I understand that's the nature of the game. I wish I'd known that before.

Also, the writer alone is a myth. No book is written alone, even if you write the drafts of it in solitude.  It's important for a writer to talk to other writers, and a critique group is also very valuable.

JON: Where else can you be found on the web? 
CATHERINE:
 
It’s easy to find me on my website Writer Tamago (
http://cathschaffstump.com). Writer Tamago is mirrored on Live Journal and Dreamwidth. I also dispense pearls of wisdom on Twitter.

JON: One last question: Who do you think would win in a fight, astronauts or cavemen, and why?
CATHERINE: Cavemen! Imagine you're an astronaut, and you land on a planet. The indigenous people lie in wait. Boom! A club breaks your face plate! A spear pierces your environmental suit! It's all over for you, Space Traveller!  Atmospheric poison! Cave stench! Micro-organisms attack!  But if you throw ray guns into the mix, that might tip the odds. However, not knowing otherwise, I'm going with cavemen.


In addition to being an active teacher, researcher, and novelist, Catherine Schaff-Stump enjoys learning other languages. Japanese is her most fluent to date, although she has a minor in French, knows enough German to be dangerous, and is taking the tiniest steps toward Russian. Catherine is also an avid seamstress, sewing theatrical costumes and the occasional quilt. She thoroughly enjoys being married to her science teacher husband, who lives with her and two cats in a 140 year old house somewhere in Iowa . They travel as much as they can in and out of the U.S
.



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Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
msstacy13
Oct. 7th, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC)
I think it would also depend on who was leading the astronauts.
In one of my fave ST TOS episodes,
Spock fails to understand that the cavemen surrounding him
aren't going to act logically,
so disaster ensues.

Astronauts have the potential for understanding cavemen,
but cavemen have very little potential for understanding astronauts.
If the astronauts fail to keep this truth in mind,
the cavemen will whip 'em at warp speed.
cathschaffstump
Oct. 7th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Amen.

Cath
dotificus
Oct. 7th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC)
Great interview! Hulk Hercules sounds like my kind of fun.

But astronauts would crush the cavemen. High Tech domination and interplanetary imperialism FTW!
cathschaffstump
Oct. 7th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
Cave men have the whole home field advantage, which is not to be sneezed at.

Cath
msstacy13
Oct. 7th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
To paraphrase Napoleon-
An army of austronauts led by a caveman
will defeat an army of cavemen led by an astronaut.
:)
cathschaffstump
Oct. 7th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
Unless...that astronaut were Napoleon.

Cath
msstacy13
Oct. 7th, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC)
You see perfectly what I'm getting at.
You should consider writing a--
oh, wait...
:)
jongibbs
Oct. 7th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
Napoleonic history is a pet hobby of mine.

One of the reasons for Napoleon's incredible success as a general was his ability to hide his armies from the opposing general, who never suspected they were in his sleevies the whole time ;)
msstacy13
Oct. 7th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
:)
cathschaffstump
Oct. 7th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jon. You make me look good!

I want to remind readers here that a review of your fantastic book and a great interview with you are up at my site.

http://cathschaffstump.com/archives/2010/09/21/fur-face-when-roald-dahl-meets-the-ebook/

http://cathschaffstump.com/archives/2010/09/21/jon-gibbs-interview/

I also will patiently continue to wait for a Fur-Face sequel.

Catherine
jongibbs
Oct. 7th, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Catherine. It was a pleasure having you here :)
bogwitch64
Oct. 7th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the look into another writer's world, Jon. Always an interesting view.

Thanks, Catherine!
cathschaffstump
Oct. 7th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
:)
jongibbs
Oct. 7th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you think so, you sparkley-queenship...ness, 'cause you're next on my list of folks to invite :)
bogwitch64
Oct. 7th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
Eeep! I better start figuring out who'd win in that epic battle between cavemen and astronauts!!! ;)

Hey, how'd the book expo go??
jongibbs
Oct. 7th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
Collingswood? Pretty good. I'm glad I'm doing that Fur-Face CD/mug promo, people seem to really like those 'I are a writer' mugs :)
bogwitch64
Oct. 7th, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
Did I miss a post about it?

I saw you tagged on Facebook!
jongibbs
Oct. 7th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
The mug or the festival? :P

Last Thursday, I mentioned I was going, but I didn't post about my experience there. It was a beautiful day, and tremendous fun. I would have posted about it on Tuesday, but I already had the Puddle winner to announce and when I saw Nathan's guest blog contest, I figured that was more important.

bogwitch64
Oct. 7th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
The Festival. I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss it. The pictures on FB were great. The day looked GORGEOUS.
lindaabdavis
Oct. 8th, 2010 05:34 am (UTC)
Great interview on an interesting writer, Jon. I enjoyed it. And I'll have to check her work out since my NaNoWriMo challenge project will be YA.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

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