Getting to know Cat, I’ve really grown to admire her. It finally dawned on me why. You see, Cat Connor loves life. Being a successful novelist and mentor to other writers means she could sit on her laurels, kick her feet up, and let life pass her by. Not, Cat. No, she grabs life and squeezes every drop of love and joy she can get out of it while sipping on a Tequila, working on her next novel, and jamming to the radio. We can learn a lot about Cat which is why I am very pleased to introduce you to her…
Tequila drinker. Writer of crime and murderer of perfectly happy characters. Catnip to weirdos. Probably a little too mini? Let’s try that again (although all those things are true.)
Writer of the Byte Series (9 byte novels in print, 10th due out late this year or early next, and still writing), published by Rebel ePublishers, Detroit and London. My world is full of off-spring, animals, adventure, and books - I’m co-founder and co-director of a unique bookshop that supports NZ indie authors and small presses. www.writersplot.org.nz We are seriously cool down here in New Zealand.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
I was hosting a large writing group (my first ever - that was scary as hell to start with by the way) at our city library and one of the members (a young film maker/director) said, “Hey Cat, do you think you could write a pilot for a series set in NZ?” To which I replied, “I have absolutely no idea how to write a screenplay, of course I’ll do it!” I had a short story that I figured I could adapt. So I set about researching and learning what I needed to know and I wrote it. Just like that. It’s sitting in a drawer because the project fell over but I wrote it, it was fun, and there is potential there.
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
It was something I’d always wanted to do. I’d written a radio play years before, that was a big learning curve and fun, so was willing to give another form of writing a try. Also, I think my books would be amazing movies - but - I’d sooner see them as a TV series (Netflix, let’s be specific here!)
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
There was teacher at college who saw potential in my writing but the person who really first believed in my ability to tell a story was two of my oldest and closest friends, Chrissy and Sue. They read everything from day one. Remembering the laughter keeps me going some days!
Q: What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
Let’s break this down a bit. I knew I wanted to write novels when I couldn’t find anything decent to read. Once I really started writing I realized I see scenes in my mind. I’m writing what I see. So straight away my books are a visual medium, at least for me. They also work well as voice acted talking books and I’ve been told that’s because of how I write, don’t take my word for it, go read me and see! This is a link to a free copy of killerbyte (you’re welcome).
So if I’m already writing in a way that people can see the scenes why not write a screenplay? And because I don’t believe people when they say “you can’t just write a screenplay” I dove right in. When someone says I can’t do something, I’m going to do it. I’m working on two while writing my 11th byte novel.
Q: How do you define success for yourself? How do define success for your path you're on?
Success is such an abstract idea. For me it’s not really defined by traditional definitions. I ask myself this question and if the answer is yes then I am successful. Am I happy? The answer is yes.
And that is the biggest measure of success out there. Being a writer I can name several moments when I felt successful but none of it means anything unless I am happy doing what I’m doing and happy within myself.
Sure royalty cheques are great, being asked to speak at various places, having fans, being asked to host groups and whatnot - they’re all fantastic but if I’m not happy then they will not make me happy.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
I’m an early bird, think I always have been, but I used to be a night owl as well. Which means I existed on about 3 hours sleep for years - I do not recommend that at all!
When do you get up?
At 6 during the week and usually just after in the weekends. I like to be awake before the humans in the household.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Make my bed (not even kidding).
My usual morning shenanigans center on the kids, animals, and coffee. I have a retired racing greyhound, Romeo, he’s now in his twilight years and requires a lot of cuddles (and newspaper, so much newspaper). Everywhere Romeo goes, Missy the cat is not far behind. They are elderly and best mates. During all this there is frantic cage rattling going on from Bucky Barnes and Timber the Abyssinian guinea pigs. If they had little tin cups they would run them along the bars of their large indoor hutch. They discovered that rattling the bars gets them breakfast quicker than wheeking at me. Dammit!
Then I do all the usual things plus start waking up ActorKid, who is not a morning person.
I walk to the bookshop every week day. The forty-minute walk is my thinking time. I’m in the shop until about 1:30 then I walk home.
The afternoons are spent with the animals, the Teen, and Actorkid, while I’m getting stuff done and writing. We eat dinner together, usually.
Do you have a pre-bed ritual?
Yep, I talk to Geoff before I fall asleep. (Of course I clean my teeth and whatnot as well!)
How do I define a successful day?
Nobody died or was badly harmed - but sometimes they are the things that do define a successful day for me.
Knowing I’ve achieved something toward a goal. Having good conversations and connecting with people. Being the best parent I can be that day. Laughter. Laughter is one of those things that means the day didn’t suck.
Q: What’s been your most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Tricky question. I’m going to go with honing my story telling ability. Nah, I think maybe the ability to ignore the naysayers and do it anyway is an important skill. I am quite skilled at ignoring people especially the ones that think everything is hard and complain about how hard writing is - for me, writing is not hard. It’s never been hard. I love it and therefore enjoy the process.
Q: What’s been your greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Believing in myself. Seriously, every book I finish I wait to see if this is the one that will suck so bad my publisher dumps me. I used to think it was part of being a kiwi then I realized it’s a creative thing probably exacerbated by being a kiwi. :)
Q: What’s been your greatest reward in the choices you've made?
A few years ago now I was asked by the city library to host a writing workshop at the library. The last thing a good friend said to me before he died suddenly was “do it, you’ll be great, people can learn a lot from you.” I wasn’t sure I’d be any such thing nor was I sure I could teach/coach/help anyone. But Mike said do it so I did. The workshop grew into a writing group that met every second Saturday. I spent days coming up with lesson plans and challenges for the group every fortnight, and I watched people grow as writers. Because, amazingly, people did want to learn from me! Who knew? Well, Mike, knew, but really I had no clue.
The greatest rewards so far have been seeing new writers produce quality work and being able to point them to the next stage and guide them from experience. I still do it, but now from our shop on the 3rd Saturday of the month, and it’s more informal - I’m there to guide, answer questions, and find solutions rather than full on teach lessons.
But the single biggest reward was my dad telling me how much he enjoys my poetry. (He’s a massive Leonard Cohen fan so liking my stuff to the point that he has my poetry book on the coffee table and it’s well read. This is huge for me.) Dad asked if I would write another poetry book before the series ends.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
All the things I don’t know. I don’t know what I don’t know, so, I’m here to learn.
Life is about learning, sharing knowledge, and supporting each other.