Greetings from Marti Pieper in beautiful (and much colder than Florida) Seneca, South Carolina! After a recent move, we’re unpacking and getting ready for Christmas all at once. But we have all sorts of interesting tidbits from author Catherine Finger, so let’s get started with her interview right away!
Welcome, Catherine! Please tell us about your book, Capsized by Death.
Police Chief Jo Oliver is finally about to begin a new life with her daughter and fiancé, but before they can celebrate their dream wedding in Maui, a serial killer with ties to one of Jo’s old cases unleashes a terror on the island. Can Jo and her team keep a ghost from her past from derailing her plans for the future?
Intriguing! So why did you write this book?
This book was meant to be. Police Chief Jo Oliver and FBI Special Agent Nick Vitarello have been dancing around each other for ages, and it was time to take that tango to the next level.
What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
It was pretty interesting to learn how easy it could be to sink a submarine. The scenes in this book include research I conducted online as well as interviews with retired Navy personnel and are entirely plausible. Turns out it doesn’t take all that much to sink a sub. Who knew?!
Another big surprise was the appearance of two new characters and the way they quickly made their way to Josie’s inner circle. Their additional bench strength ended up being useful. If you look closely, you can almost see Nick and Josie peering into future possibilities with an expanded—and international—team.
So great that you interviewed Navy vets as part of your research. What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
One of my greatest challenges in writing this book was envisioning a ‘happily ever after!’ There’s a reason I prefer the thriller/mystery genre! Besides loving suspense personally, I myself have not experienced a joyful, healthy marriage, and I couldn’t write what I wasn’t sure I believed to be possible. God blessed me with deeper healing in my life as I wrote this book in ways I did not expect. At times, I found it both extremely difficult and exquisitely freeing to write.
Awww, I love it when God intertwines our personal story with our work. What would be your ideal writing place? And … what’s your actual writing place like?
Maui is definitely my ideal writing place! Any place with the ocean in front of me, an island breeze at my back, and the feel of warm sand underfoot is ideal in my book. In my “real life,” I sit at a simple table in front of a big window overlooking my garden at home. I’m also lucky in that I really can write anywhere and any place—have computer and notebook, will write.
I love to travel, and I write most consistently when I’m on the road. It’s easier for me to write without the distractions of a thousand daily tasks to consider at home. While traveling, I “trick” myself into believing that I can’t go outside and enjoy the new place until I’ve finished my daily writing. Confining myself to a hotel room motivates me to write my way out of it.
We writers have all sorts of tricks to make ourselves sit down and get the job done! Why do you love writing?
Writing is woven into my DNA. I’m actually happiest when writing on a daily basis. I think it’s an integral part of God’s plan for my life—and we all know how much better our lives roll when we live in agreement with His plans!
Amen and amen! When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
I’ve always loved the written word—I’ve been journaling daily since I was a little girl. God first revealed Himself to me through His Word when I was a teenager. It wasn’t until I was in my 50s that I recognized His call to write and publish. He spoke to me loud and clear via Revelation 21:5—and still does.
And why do you write suspense novels?
Suspense is my jam! The scarier the better! I’ve been hooked on suspense ever since reading the short story “Wide O—” in middle school. I love that edge-of-your-seat feeling—and I write the kind of stories I love to read. My stories are definitely fast-paced and edgy, yet without the darkness so common to the genre outside of Christian literature. My goal is to weave edgy stories that keep readers wondering whether a character’s life experiences will make them better—or bitter, and why.
I’m so glad you have the opportunity to write what you love. What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
Writing is hard work! And writers are neurotic—we doubt ourselves and our writing way more than we should. Feedback from readers—especially encouraging feedback—really gets those creative juices flowing. I love knowing that readers care about my characters and are waiting for me to get another story out already!
Tell us about your funniest moment with a reader.
For sure the funniest moment was when a member of my own family read a scene in one of my books and personalized it to the point of believing that I had received a giant inheritance from a deceased relative—because I’d written it in for a character! One of my characters seemed to have more material possessions and pursuits than their profession might allow, and I needed a way to make this believable. Making up an inheritance fit. Apparently, I did it so well my own family thought it was true about me! I reminded them I write fiction. . .
That’s hilarious. Now, please tell us about your most touching moment with a reader,
My protagonist suffers spousal abuse in my series, and this part of the story line touches many readers’ hearts. I have had many interactions with readers about this issue, and I am always pleased to be able to speak truth and hope into the hearts of women and men who share this experience.
What do you read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?
Like most of my writer friends, I love to read! I am a voracious reader with eclectic tastes. Current books include Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard; Good Omens by Neil Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (a laugh out loud semi-apocalyptic story;) Educated, a memoir by Tara Westover; and When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey.
Definitely eclectic tastes! Do you have pets, and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
Yes, and yes! Christie, my ten-and-a-half-year-old Yorkiepoo, and Clara, my eight-year-old quarter horse mare, are my soulmates! They inspire my writing in that they calm my soul and just plain make me smile every day.
Everyone struggles with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?
Writing is like working out: I have to drag my carcass to the computer like I have to drag my carcass to the gym. Once I have written or have worked out, I am at peace and rather thrilled with myself. Getting to the keyboard and staying there is the hardest part! My goal is to write 500-1000 new words a day. Sometimes I make it; sometimes I don’t. But God always blesses my obedience to Him at the keyboard.
Indeed! What are your hobbies, activities, or passions outside of writing?
Horses have been a passion of mine as long as I can remember. I love everything about them, and I hang out with and ride Clara as often as possible. We also compete in equine events at the state and national levels, and I love everything about the competitions as well—the road trips; the physicality of the sport; the goal setting; and my “barn family.”
Fantastic! Now, please tell us about your next project.
There’s a very good chance that we will be seeing more of Police Chief Jo Oliver. While her next set of capers are under development, I am working on a women’s leadership book. My working title is The Women Before Me and in it, I feature several female leaders and the impact they’ve made on our world. My goal is to paint portraits of accomplished leaders by sharing their experiences with female mentors and influencers, illustrating their developmental years, and inviting them to share stories of their darkest days and how they found their way through doubts and disappointments. My hope is to encourage aspiring leaders by showing them the imperfect journeys of powerful and successful women.
That sounds wonderful too. Thanks so much, Catherine, for sharing with us today!
To learn more about Catherine Finger, check out Catherine’s website.
For His glory,