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Hello and welcome along to another Celebrating Indie Publishing post!  I am delighted to be be able to shine a spotlight on some truly wonderful indie authors and publishers out there, and today is no exception.  I am joined by Steve Catto, the author of Snowflakes.

Snowflakes was published on 25 April 2017 and is available to purchase via Amazon UK and sounds very intriguing.  I promised that I wouldn’t add any more books to my mountainous “To Be Read” pile, but I think I might have to make an exception with this one, there’s something about this one that’s screaming “READ ME!”

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Two lost girls become involved in a love triangle with Sam, a hunter, after setting up house in an abandoned old cottage near a river.

Life appears perfect, until one of the girls discovers what Sam really does when he goes out hunting at night, and then the fabric of their dream world begins to unravel.

Can following their dreams take any of them home, and what does that mean anyway?

Who is the girl that never speaks, and what are the strange shapes that appear in the half-light? Is their existence being shadowed by a darker force and, if so, why does it seem determined to help them?

A journey involving secrets whispered on the riverbank under Arcadian skies, evenings around the fire and deep introspection about the meaning of life. Also mystery, suspense, swords, guns, assassinations… and a small monkey.

 


Author Feature:

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Photo: Kristie Louise Herd

 

Steve Catto is an old man, or at least that’s what it says on his birth certificate. He was born in Yorkshire, but his parents took him to Australia when he was six years old and he grew up there, sometimes racing cars across the desert.

He was never very good at school, but the one thing he did learn was how to learn, and he started writing programs for the computer at the local university, much to the disdain of his teachers who told him that he would ‘never make a living out of that rubbish’. In his late teens he returned to the UK, and his parents followed him – which wasn’t what he wanted because he was hoping to get away from them.

His first proper job was in the computer department of an infamous Oxford publishing company, and he subsequently went on to write software for electricity control systems, and simulators for the military. He started to fly gliders and wrote programs to analyse the data from aircraft flight recorders, where he also learned to fly, and crash, lots of other types of aircraft as well – which was the best part of the job.

At various times in his career he has also lived and worked in France, Switzerland, and Canada, and he now lives in Scotland. Since appearing in school plays as a child he has performed almost continuously on the amateur stage, and spent a few years scuba diving. These two things have nothing to do with each other.

In terms of his pedigree as an author he has written many technical manuals and filled in countless timesheets, so is well versed in the art of conjuring up works of fiction, however he has never written a novel before, especially not one that involves a blonde girl and a man with a bow and arrow, but he did once spend three weeks working in a factory that made handles for buckets.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Having an outlet for my ideas.  I’ve always wanted to write fiction as a form of expression.  Reading back a paragraph or a chapter, and seeing all the imagery rebuilding itself in my mind is a wonderful experience.  It’s a feeling of achievement, of satisfaction.  I’ve never felt that in anything else I’ve done in my life.

I also love organising things like the cover and the layout, and finally getting back something that smells like a book.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?  

Marketing.  I’m really not good at selling myself and, for me anyway, that’s one of the killer things.  If I had a traditional publisher of course that would be different, but I don’t and I’ve never tried to find one.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Oh dear.  I’ve been asked this twice before and I think I’ve given different answers both times.  It would have to be one of the typical ‘classics’ like Moby Dick – the story of the great white whale.  That’s a hard book to read and stay focused on, but I had to read it just because of the first sentence:

Call me Ishmael.

That tells me everything I need to know about the flavour of the whole book, in three words.  It tells me who the main character is and that it’s going to be a narrative. I feel an instant connection to him, and I want to hear what he has to say next.  When it follows up with:

Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Isn’t that beautiful?  I’m hooked on that!

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I have a full-time job, and a wife, and two little dogs, and a camper van that we’ve been restoring for five years.  I need to start making some podcasts and keep fleshing out my blog.  I need to do some more photography, and I’ve started narrating ‘Snowflakes’ as an audiobook, which I have to do in my office in the middle of the night because it’s the only place that’s silent enough.

I really ought to make an eighth day for the week – that would fix a lot of problems – but I don’t have the time.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

Apart from that, not really.  I do like the quietness but it doesn’t have to be silent, as long as the noise isn’t louder than my thoughts.  I always write on the computer, in Word.  It’s the best tool for me.  Strangely enough, most of my creative thinking happens at night, usually when I’m asleep.  That’s when the ideas form and join together.  That’s when the scenes play themselves out and the story makes itself up.  When I write that’s really what I’m doing – crafting words to describe the story and the scenes that I already have in my mind.  I don’t write ‘draft’.  What  I write is pretty much good to go apart from catching the typos, which my proofreader does admirably.

Rituals?  I need a mug of tea.  Life is better with a mug of tea.   When it’s empty make another.

What’s on the horizon?  What can your fans look forward to next?

A sequel to ‘Snowflakes’.

There is one character from that book, a mysterious little girl who never spoke, who was always in the background.  We never knew much about her.   We didn’t find out who she was, where she came from, where she went, or what she wanted but she clearly had a bigger part to play in the story than anyone imagined.  Only the reader realises how important she is, the other characters don’t, and even the reader doesn’t know exactly what she did in the story.  They only have a suspicion that there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye.

The sequel is her back-story.  Although it’s designed to be read in isolation, it dovetails in with the plot of the first book in places so if the reader has also read the first book they will get to see some of the plots and scenes from her perspective.  If they haven’t, it doesn’t matter because the story still makes sense.

They say there are two sides to every story, and then there’s the truth.

To find out the other side of the story we have to go back ‘Into The Darkness’.

Whether we’ll find the truth there is another matter.

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be?

To my readers!  Gosh, well they will realise that there are two basic types of book.  One where the plot and the characters are everything and the words are just there to tell the story and you don’t notice them, like the background music in a film. If you notice it then it’s bad!  The other type of books are ones where the words are as enjoyable as the plots and the characters, and the words are written to be noticed.

Enjoy the words.  Every one is there for a purpose.  Not one word exists in any of my books unless I think it needs to be there and adds something to the story.  I wrote every one of them… just for you.

 

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it?

If you want a story involving people and adventures, with unexpected twists and turns and strange but believable happenings, mixed with the odd spot of humour, I think you will like this book.  It’s been described as containing ‘elements of magical realism in a real-world setting … with a literary feel’, and a lot of reviewers like the prose and the world-building.  Some feel it starts too slowly, but someone else said that it ‘…simmers, and then it boils, and then it explodes’ which means they got it!  There’s no instant gratification, nobody has sex or gets killed on the first page.

It has a darker side to it if you look deeper, because ‘Snowflakes’ is written with a plot that exists on several levels.  It will make you think about life, if you want to.

In the simplest form, it’s a story about two girls who find themselves separated from their comfortable surroundings and thrown into a different world where they meet up with Sam, a hunter, and set up house together in an abandoned old cottage by a river.  At some point they’re joined by another little girl, who is somewhat of a mystery.  Life seems good until one of the girls discovers what Sam really does when he goes out hunting at night.  He lives other lives and has other adventures apart from the one he shares with them.  From that point on their relationships deteriorate, and their seemingly idyllic existence turns into a dystopic one where the only escape appears to be death.  For one of them, it is.

At another level, their physical world mirrors their emotional one, which calls into question the correlation between cause and effect.

They live in a forest clearing near a big bend in a river, with hills away across a plain to the back so, just as they are ‘trapped’ in an isolated existence where there is nowhere to go, they are also effectively trapped in their physical surroundings.  In their relationships there are good times and bad times, just as there are beautiful days where the sun sparkles off the ripples in the river, and nights talking by the fire-pit, and lazy evenings laid on the riverbank watching a million stars burn holes through a velvet sky.  But also rain and storms and billions of snowflakes, one for every soul in the world, and no two the same, or so we are led to believe.  The gently flowing river could be interpreted as a metaphor for life and its path which leads away in both directions could be viewed as a journey.

The story alludes to the possibility of escape, of understanding and perhaps even finding the physical and emotional places that the characters might call home, and whether Sam could take them to either, or both.  This is a futile exercise in hope as their physical world deteriorates in parallel with their emotional one.

In the end, living as a threesome proves intolerable so plots are laid and death is afoot, for someone.

But, at yet another level, perhaps everything is not as it seems.  Perhaps the world itself has something to say about all this.  Perhaps it has plans of its own.

And the mysterious little girl with the big eyes and the long black hair who never speaks and doesn’t seem to do much?

Maybe this was her idea all along…

 

Social Media Links:

Author website: https://stevecatto.blog/

Book site: https://snowflakes.blog/

Twitter:  @SteveCatto

Buy your copy of Snowflakes via Amazon UK

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My thanks to Steve for joining me today and sharing some wonderfully thoughtful ideas, I do agree, life is much better with tea!  The sound of the follow up to Snowflakes sounds really interesting and I love the idea of the intricate plot and the way it weaves together, I look forward to reading it!

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