Today Wednesday Writers is featuring me, Catherine Castle, author of the two-time award-winning inspirational suspense novel The Nun and the Narc. The book has also placed in a number of contests. To see my list of awards click here.
As I began writing this post, I wondered what I could tell you about me and my book that hasn’t already been posted on my blog, so I went back a did a quick look at guest posts I did on other authors’ blogs. I came up with some unique, one-of-a-kind interview questions, that I have been asked.
Before we get to the questions, and the answers I gave, let me introduce you to Sister Margaret Mary and Jed Bond, the heroine and hero of The Nun and the Narc.
Sister Margaret Mary is a feisty novice who is scheduled to take her final vows soon after she returns home from her mission trip to Mexico where she is building homes for needy families. In an attempt to protect a teenage boy she has befriended, she manages to insert herself into the middle of a drug deal and gets captured by the local drug lord, along with undercover DEA Agent Jed Bond. She thinks Jed is a drug dealer. He thinks she’s an interfering innocent he’s going to have to protect. Neither one is prepared for the verbal sparring or the onslaught of emotions they encounter as they try to escape the drug lord’s clutches.
And now, on with the interview!
- Your book is described as an “adorable” inviting adventure even from someone who didn’t expect it to be so because she wasn’t Christian and didn’t “enjoy books that preach.” Why do you think Christian books have a reputation for being preachy and how do you avoid sanctimony?
- I think a lot of Christian books have a reputation for being preachy because the characters quote scriptures too much. This might be a problem for non-Christians because they aren’t familiar with the Bible or it feels like the author is trying to make some kind of point. Most people read to be entertained. Also, writers, if they aren’t careful, can make their characters too perfect. I think people identify with flawed characters. In The Nun and the Narc Sister Margaret Mary doesn’t quote scripture once to Jed. They do talk about God. She has flaws and foibles that make her real and approachable. She shows, rather than talks about God’s love to Jed and other characters through her caring actions. And perfect is not a word Jed or Sister Margaret would ever use to describe her.
- Some readers refer to the humor you interject into the story. Would you tell us how a writer might integrate humor into a romantic suspense novel?
- This is not an easy question for me, because inserting humor into a story is not something I do consciously. I’ve actually taken a writing class on how to write humor. Thank goodness we weren’t graded because I’d have flunked. I couldn’t come up with anything that seemed the least bit funny. I couldn’t force the humor. I suppose the humor in my story is there because there is a lot of laughter in my home, and I see things from a different perspective. For example, when my daughter was little and would be grumpy, we’d tickle her and “shake the grimble grumbles” out. It was a lot more fun and productive to turn her frowns into smiles with laughter and humor. “Shaking the grimble grumbles out” is a phrase my husband and I still say to each other when we get grumpy. It still makes us laugh and smile.
Q:Tell us one unusual, weird, or curious fact you discovered while researching this book.
A: I discovered there are Mexican drug dealers whose religious faith (which seems a bit oxymoronical to me considering their line of work) involves the adoration of Jesus Malverde, a 19th-century bandit regarded by many as the special patron saint of drug dealers. Who knew drug dealers had a patron saint?
Do you have a favorite scene in this book and what would it be?
I have so many scenes that I love. The car chase scene in the marketplace (which is featured below) is one of my favorite action-adventure scenes. In terms of emotional scenes, I think I’d have to choose the scene where Sister Margaret is at the church ready to take her vows. When I was writing this scene I had such a connection with the characters. I could feel the ecstasy of the other novices as they expressed their love for Christ, and I could feel Sister Margaret’s emotions, too. Her angst over what to do and her deep love for the Lord and Jed was palpable to me as I wrote those scenes. Even though I knew what she would do, my heart was pounding as I wrote the words.
And here’s the marketplace, action-adventure excerpt I promised.
The Nun and the Narc
By Catherine Castle
Margaret’s knees buckled at the sight of the handgun. Her body tensed, her gaze frozen on his weapon. He fired off a couple of shots. Heart thumping like a jackhammer, she ran for cover behind the open car door. The window glass shattered as bullets whizzed over her head. She scrambled into the car and crouched on the floorboard. Another row of pottery shattered, sending fragments into the car like tiny projectile rockets. Sending up a quick prayer, she covered her head.
Slamming the door shut as he passed, the man leapt over the trunk. He jerked open the driver’s door then jumped behind the wheel. Jamming the car into gear, he roared out into the market street. Shoppers and vendors screamed, leaping out of the car’s path.
Margaret scrambled into the passenger seat. “Stop this car immediately!”
“Keep down,” he ordered, “unless you want to get shot.”
The rear window glass erupted into the car’s interior, punctuating his words. The man fired at the attackers through the shattered back window.
“Shot?” Her voice rose an octave. “Oh, dear Lord in Heaven, what have I gotten into?”
“Trouble, Lady.” He fired off another round. “Big trouble.”
Margaret slid deeper into the front passenger seat, grabbing the door handle as the car careened around a corner.
I’m going to die. In a car crash. With a strange man. Heart pumping madly, she let go of the door handle just long enough to cross herself then grabbed it again as the car swerved. A guardian angel would be good here, Lord. And make it Dale Earnhardt! They swerved around another corner and she held on for dear life.
Oh, Mother Superior, maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m not good nun material after all. Who else in the convent could get themselves into a mess like this?
“Are you a drug dealer?” she asked as they whizzed by a stand of woven tapestries.
The car swerved to the right, barely missing a burro. “That’s a need to know answer.”
Margaret braced herself against the seat when they careened past the animal. “Under the circumstances, I need to know.”
The man didn’t reply.
Margaret felt her temper rising. “Who are those guys and why are they after you?”
“After us,” he corrected.
Us? Panic scrabbled at her insides. Will people think I’m part of his illegal plan? Mother Superior will kick me out of the convent for sure.
“I haven’t done anything,” she protested.
The man ducked as a bullet shattered the left rear window. Margaret let go of the door handle and covered her head.
“Lady, you’re guilty by association.” He threw his arm over the seat and fired off a couple more shots. He cursed then spit a question at her. “Who are you anyway?”
“You first. I’d like to know I’m going to be dying with. What’s your name?”
“Bond. Jed Bond.”
A frantic giggle bubbled up inside of her at the familiar lilt of the phrase and his English accent. “And I suppose you’re in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Jed Bond,” she said.
The giggle changed into a crazed laugh, a defense mechanism from her youth. She’d learned that if she appeared fearless when her two older brothers razzed her, they derived little pleasure from torturing her. The ploy had saved her on many occasions.
Jed stared at her as if she were insane. If the truth were known, she did feel a bit crazy at the moment. And lightheaded. And out of control. She hated being out of control.
“What’s so funny?” he asked.
“You don’t know?”
“Why don’t you tell me, Miss . . . whoever you are?”
“Margaret Mary O’Connor. Sis-” Her introduction changed into a scream. “Look out!”
Jed’s head whipped around just as the car plowed through a market stand of live chickens. Poultry, wooden cages, and feathers scattered over the car. An angry hen dropped through the car’s open sunroof, squawking and flapping in front of Jed, beating his head with its wings.
Margaret reached over, grabbed the bird, and threw it back out the sunroof opening. But it was too late.
About the Author:
Award winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.
Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing is a 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner, a 2014 RONE winner, a 2014 EPIC finalist, a 2014 RONE finalist and a Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist and an ACFW Genesis Finalist.