Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the Blood of Earth trilogy from Harper Voyager. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cats. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.
LS: Beth, thanks so much for joining us! We’re so happy to have you with us. Okay, let’s get this out of the way quickly…I’m a calorie counting Weight Watcher devotee and your Bready Or Not segment is wrecking my points. (Kidding). What prompted you to include all those delicious recipes on your site and is it fair to say baking is your secret obsession?
I don’t think it’s much of a secret at this point, ha! I’ve been running Bready or Not for about 10 years now. I started it on LiveJournal as a way to produce regular blog content. I didn’t feel confident enough to share writing advice, so I thought, hey, I love baking and trying new things, why not get into food blogging? I transitioned Bready or Not over to BethCato.com in 2014 when I set up my domain site. Every Wednesday I share a new recipe, available for free, and easy to print out. I haven’t missed a week yet! My cookies and indulgent goodies get the most attention, but I have a bit of everything on there.
LS: Circling away from all that sugary goodness…what first made you fall in love with writing and books in general?
I was the weird 4-year-old who was writing and illustrating my own books. Back then, they were always about horses–and maybe with cats mixed in for some variety. As I grew older, I fell hard for historical fiction, and I really wanted to write a Civil War-set book. At age 11, I discovered fantasy role-playing games and fantasy novels, and I had numerous failed attempts at my own books over the next few years.
LS: Your bibliography boasts a staggeringly prolific list of poetry and short fiction. In addition to novels, what is your favorite format and why?
Oh gosh, that’s a hard question. I don’t know if I really have a favorite format–it’s really about what the idea needs. I usually know right away if something needs to be a poem, or flash fic, or a longer story. Shorter works are nice, though, because I get faster final results!
LS: The past 18 months has impacted so many. What has the pandemic taught you about how and what you write?
I wish I had a profound, positive answer, but the pandemic really has reaffirmed my agoraphobia and that escaping into stories–whether writing or reading them–is a survival method. Since I was already largely homebound, the pandemic didn’t really change my writing routine or subject matter. My son is a high schooler, so even when he was home for all of last school year, he did his own thing in his room upstairs.
LS: If there was something you wish you knew about writing and publishing (two very different animals) when your career began what would that be?
There’s no such thing as ‘making it’ when it comes to completing projects or getting published. You make it to the top of the mountain and find out there’s a whole range ahead, and it’s really easy to slip off a cliff–or be shoved. Look at favorite books from five, ten years ago. Look to see who is still publishing now. Those valleys between the mountains, they aren’t filled with rocks.