Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.
Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.
All of Cathryn’s novels have been finalists in the Australian Romance Readers Awards and the 2014 awards also see her in contention for Favourite Australian Romance Author. The Falls is her fifth rural romance and will release on April 22nd. September 2014 saw the release of The French Prize, her first romantic adventure story.
Cathryn currently lives at the base of the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s far west with her partner of many years, Jim. When she’s not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.
A Bit of Fun
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you get your ideas from?
This is going to sound like a frustrating answer but inspiration can come from anywhere. I’m constantly amazed by what triggers my imagination. Sometimes it’s a dream. Sometimes a piece of music will lead to an idea, but it could be an overheard snippet of conversation, a movie or TV show, or newspaper or magazine article. Even other books.
My office shelves are stuffed with fat files of newspaper and magazine clippings, as well as scribbled bits of paper with things like ‘write a story about XYZ’ scribbled on them. I also keep notebooks everywhere. I have them in my handbag, beside my bed, in the lounge. I even keep one in my golf bag, just in case. Which is probably why I’m such a bad golfer. My mind has a habit of wandering…
If you visit each book page of my website, you’ll find a section called The Story Behind where I talk about what inspired me to write that particular story.
What drew you to the romance genre?
The emotion of the stories. A well-written romance with characters you fall in love with can tear your insides out then make you sob with happiness at the end. No other genre seems to affect my emotions the same way. Occasionally a thriller or horror novel will scare the pants of me or make me feel terrible anxiety but it’s the pure head and heart rush of love that I enjoy most.
It’s a way of living all the highs, lows, joys and horrible angst that love can bring, secure in the knowledge that it’s all going to work out in the end. Because if romance promises one thing, it’s a happy ending.
Can you tell us about your publishing journey?
I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, mostly short stories and awful poetry in the early days. Then in my twenties I tried and tried to write full length novels but could never get past the 10,000 or so word mark. Plus I was working and studying and had yet to mine that gut-deep drive that you need to succeed in writing.
When my partner was transferred overseas I finally had the opportunity to achieve the dream I’d let fester for too long. So toward the end of our final year in France I sat down and wrote a book. Not a very good book, but the satisfaction when I finally finished that first draft was amazing. No going back after that. I was hooked!
On return to Australia I kept writing, joined the Romance Writers of Australia, entered their contests, learned from the feedback, found wonderful critique partners, and developed from there, getting better with each manuscript.
In 2010 I pitched a manuscript to Penguin – the 5th or 6th full length novel I’d written, I can’t quite recall which, as I’d also turned my hand to novellas by then and the stories were piling up. It wasn’t what they were after, so I pitched another and they loved it. Promises came out in 2011, with another rural romance following so far each year.
Toward the end of 2013 I asked my agent to see if anyone was interested in The French Prize, a manuscript that had been languishing on my hard drive while I concentrated on my rural romances. The response was quite wonderful and a publication offer came soon after. Now I’m now also writing romantic adventures, a genre I find enormous fun.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Write. The more you write the better you get. Like anything, good writing takes practice. Most of all, finish the book!
Learn your craft. Stephen King didn’t become a master storyteller the first time he picked up a pen. Read his On Writing and see how much he bled. Understand what drives stories, especially conflict. Become familiar with things like point of view, emotional triggers, good characterisation, voice. Buy books on the writing and read them. Reacquaint yourself with grammar and punctuation.
Find writer friends, ones you can bitch and moan to and cheer successes with. Who will read your work with an honest eye but criticise with tact and praise with sincerity. Believe me, you need these people. They will keep you sane.
Join the Romance Writers of Australia. Wonderful organisation!
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
I work for myself. I also get to spent an awful lot of time daydreaming.
What’s the worst thing about being a writer?
Structural edits, aka revisions. Despite understanding how important they are, that they’re necessary to make the book the best it can be, I hate them. They hurt.
Favourite colour: Dark blue
Favourite animal: A horse, of course! Although everybody knows that dogs are the best people.
Favourite movie: Across the Universe. Anything with a sing-a-long, really, especially late at night. I’m also rather partial to Love, Actually and the Indiana Jones and Mummy franchises.
Favourite food: Fresh rice noodles. Love them. LOVE. Oh, and cherries.
Weird fact #1: I was once runner-up Miss Showgirl at Tantanoola Show.
Weird fact #2: My childhood family nickname was “Bucket”, apparently because I used to carry a bucket around and sit in it.
Weird fact #3: I have kissed the Blarney Stone. I don’t think it worked…