August 29, 2017

Chatting With The Huffington Post

I’m chatting with Brandi about my new book, No Place I’d Rather Be…come and check out the interview.

By Brandi Megan Granett. I am an author, archer, and writing mentor

08/28/2017 06:23 pm ET

In “No Place I’d Rather Be,” Cathy Lamb sweeps us along like a rushing river to Montana with Olivia Martindale as she confronts the past she thought she left behind. Finding solace in her family and their traditions, readers will find themselves wrapped up in rooting for Olivia to finally find her way home.

Brandi: You are an author with an impressively long list of titles. How do you decide which ideas to pluck from the universe and craft into novels?

Cathy Lamb: My ideas for my books do seem to come from all over the universe, as you just mentioned. Some may come from Pluto and others are clearly from black holes, odd aliens, and dangerous galaxies.

For No Place I’d Rather Be, I had an image of a cookbook that was handed down through six generations of women. The cookbook, leather bound and tied with a frayed pink ribbon, held recipes, but it also held pictures of ancestors from 1905 in Odessa in the Russian empire; in Munich, Germany, in the 1940’s; and in England during the Blitz.

The pages were splattered with tea, salt, tears, and blood. Inside was a pressed rose, two thin heart shaped lockets, a white feather, a charm, red ribbons, old photographs and poems. The cookbook told how to make delicious food, and it also told the history – sometimes joyous, sometimes tragic – of the family line.

In college I had a vision of a crying, angry woman throwing her billowing wedding dress into a dead tree on a deserted street. That image eventually turned into Julia’s Chocolates.

I had a vision of a woman exacting revenge on her cheating boyfriend by using an exacto knife to cut open a condom wrapper so she could slip peanut oil into it. That snippet launched The Last Time I Was Me.

I had a vision of towering, colorful chairs that became a key storyline in Such A Pretty Face, and I had a vision of a woman in a yellow dress shooting two men in a court room that started me down the path towards The First Day Of The Rest of My Life.

So I work in images and thoughts and play around a lot in my imagination.

Many of my ideas are ridiculous or tedious. I hit myself in the forehead and said, “Really, Cathy? That is just flat out dumb.”

I try to find compelling ideas that women will relate to, and be interested in, and I write from there, coffee and chocolate nearby for nutritional enrichment.

How do you keep track of your ideas?

If an idea comes to me for another book while I’m writing a book, I write it down in a document called – wait for it – Ideas For Books.

Then I leave it alone until I need new ideas for another book. I just can’t be thinking about a new book while writing a book because my brain is easily confused and befuddled. Must concentrate on one book at a time so as not to put characters/plot lines from one book mysteriously into the other book and jumble the whole thing up.

I love the beautiful setting and the cabin/farm Olivia finds herself running to. What would be your dream home or place to reconnect or recharge in?

My dream house would be on the Oregon coast with a full wall of windows overlooking the ocean. I just love it there. When I’m frazzled and fried, that’s where I head.

Waves. Clam chowder. Sand. Books. Perfect.

Do you cook or just write well about cooking? What recipe from the book is your favorite?

My kids say that I “re-heat.”

I can only cook the basics and sometimes I burn those. Like last year when I made a Thanksgiving turkey and smoke billowed out of the oven in huge clouds. Sigh….

This is why there are no recipes in No Place I’d Rather Be from me.

If I put recipes in there they would all be stolen from some cool chef who would undoubtedly want to smack me with a spatula. Alas, stealing things is not my idea of fun. I wish I was a better cook, but for some reason being in a kitchen, making an elaborate meal, sounds like culinary torture to me.

My favorite “recipes” from the 105 year old cookbook – ahem! – are all the sweet ones: Black forest gateau with cherries, German apple cake, Kuchen bars with vanilla custard, apple chocolate trifle, Leipzig carrot cake, and cinnamon mousse.

Where did the red geraniums come from?

The idea to plant red geraniums at home in No Place I’d Rather Be was passed down from generation to generation, starting with Olivia’s great great grandmother in Odessa, which is told in back story.

Olivia Martindale, in the beginning of the novel, had no idea why the family flower was red geraniums. She simply planted them because her mother and grandma did. Later she learns yet another secret from her grandma and finds out exactly who started the red geranium tradition, when, why, and where.

I love red geraniums and plant them every year, so last spring, when I was writing the book, I looked up from my patio outside and dropped ‘em in the story.

Does your family share any long held traditions?

We do not have any long held family traditions, but I come from a really close family. Perhaps I should say our family tradition is love and laughter.

For my own family, my husband and I give our kids an ornament and a book every Christmas. We also have Pajama, Pizza and Movie Night every year when we give the kids new pajamas. We make Christmas graham cracker houses and we have a special breakfast, the same one, on Christmas Day.

My husband and I also dress up like ghouls every Halloween and frighten children when they come Trick or Treating. Can I classify that as a tradition?

What can reader’s expect next from Cathy Lamb?

I am working on another book, The Man She Married, which is out in September, 2018.

To sum it up: Natalie Shelton is in a coma. That’s not her only problem.

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