Cathy Lamb is a married mother of three teenagers, including twins, who works late into the night, and believes chocolate is the ultimate remedy for pretty much everything except insomnia. Oh. She also writes stories. Really good stories.
Holding a Master’s in Education, Cathy taught fourth grade in Oregon, until the twins she was carrying decided they wanted her full attention. Convinced her dream of a writing career would be found in romance novels, she devoted her efforts to amassing a noteworthy, and as yet unpublished, array of said novels. Then, she switched gears to pen a story based on an imaginary image that wouldn’t leave her alone. The image? A fluffy wedding dress thrown into a dead tree.
From Cathy’s questions of why was the dress there, what events had brought the owner to this point, and so forth, “Julia’s Chocolates” became Cathy’s debut novel. Readers flocked to characters alive with Cathy’s quick wit and down to earth charm.
Since then, Cathy has seen six novels published as well as four anthologies with bestselling authors Lisa Jackson, Debbie Macomber and Fern Michaels.
“The First Day of the Rest of My Life,” the story of a life coach who can’t field her own future, garnered national acclaim, again, largely in part to Cathy’s ability to inject a common sense humor into women struggling to accept and/or identify where their happiness lies. “The First Day” is a seriously good story and well worth any reader’s time.
Now, Cathy’s next novel “A Different Kind of Normal” has just been released. A story of a mother and her son who society brands as abnormal, these characters are already warming readers’ hearts and reminding us all of the value of family.
Here’s a link for a sneak peek at chapter one:
Sorry, you’ll have to buy the book for chapter two. Read one of Cathy Lamb’s marvelous books, and I’m sure you’ll be back for more.
Q) I have to ask. What inspired the character Tate in “A Different Kind of Normal?”
A) Tate was inspired by an article I read many years ago about a kid with a big head. Tate’s story is not at all like this young man’s story, but I was impressed by his strength, courage and dignity. Tate was also inspired by my son’s humor and wit, his love of basketball, and how he makes me laugh.
Q) Now, you know, because we readers are enjoying your stories of family, friendships, and unpredictable tomorrows, is there a chance we’ll see some of your romance novels?
A) The only romance stories you’ll ever see are in the anthologies already published, “Comfort and Joy” with Fern Michaels; “Almost Home” with Debbie Macomber; “Holiday Magic” with Fern Michaels; “Beach Season” with Lisa Jackson.
My other romance stories are pure crap and embarrassing. I don’t even have them anymore. They were shredded years ago, lest someone find them one day and hold them against me for ransom.
I love writing the short romance stories for the anthologies, above. There is room for the characters to have personalities, problems and issues, there is room for quirky minor characters, there is room for interesting careers and dreams, and there is room for happy endings.
Q) Intentional or not, your trademark is poignant tales laced with humor that melds perfectly into the story. How do you manage to keep the proper balance between humor and tragedy without it appearing contrived?
A) Ah, that’s a hard one. I bang my head against the keyboard many times as I write each book to make sure that I hit that sweet spot. I try to mirror life: Sometimes life is devastating. It’s hard, it’s trying, it’s exhausting, it’s so very painful. And, sometimes life is a glowing rainbow. It’s laughter, contentment, gratefulness, excitement, peace and joy, all wrapped up together. I blend the two for my books, so it’s realistic.
My books always end on hope, though. That I will guarantee for every book I write: Hope.
Q) In “The Last Time I was Me,” you introduce a bevy of women at a B&B and anger management classes who interact with the main character Jeanne, searching for her perfect version of life. These secondary characters are memorable. Will we see them again?
A) No. Once I finish a book, despite my readers begging, I don’t plan on writing the second chapter, so to speak, of my characters’ lives. Sometimes readers will write to me and ask what happened to my characters, and I’ll tell ‘em so they can sleep at night, but I won’t be writing stories featuring the same groups again. I feel like I’ve told their stories, the characters are living their own lives, they’re off and running, and I’m moving on to a new family that’s already frolicking around in my head.
There is only one exception, a minor character, Cherie Poitras, a kick – butt divorce attorney who wears leopard prints and bang up high heels, has shown up in a couple of my stories.
Q) Any parting thoughts for your readers and those not familiar with your stories yet?
A) Please read them! And to my readers, thank you for reading them. I mean that: Thank you.
I have many letters from readers telling me that my books make them laugh and cry. Sometimes they laugh and chortle and cry and sob on subways and airplanes and people stare at them strangely.
So, I’ll tell ya this: I, too, laugh and cry over my books. If I’m writing them in Starbucks, I might cry there, too. I cried every time I edited Henry’s Sisters, and I laughed every time I edited Julia’s Chocolates when the ladies had their “Breast Power Psychic Night” scenes or their “Your Hormones and You: Taking Cover, Taking Charge Psychic Nights.”
In “A Different Kind of Normal” I enjoyed writing about the family lore about witches in the ancestral line. I loved writing about the greenhouse and the herbs and spices and how Jaden Bruxelle could smell an upcoming death in them. I loved pretending that I lived in her 150 year old country home, surrounded by the same flowers her ancestors had grown. I loved writing about Tate, the big headed son, who taught everyone so much just by being himself and I loved writing about the soap opera star mother who was blunt and wild, but oh so dedicated to family, and I loved writing about Jaden and her work as a hospice nurse who saw miracles every day.
Basically, I love to write and tell stories. I always have, even when I was a kid. I listen to my characters talk and sometimes I talk back. I live in my imagination a lot. It’s an odd place to live.
Thank you for writing to me at CathyLamb@frontier.com and visiting my website CathyLamb.net. I blog and I skype with book clubs all the time, so if you would like me to visit your book club, I’m happy to.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net