An award-winning author, Cathy Perkins works in the financial industry, where she’s observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters’ lives. A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, handles the blog and social media for the ITW Debut Authors, and coordinated the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for several years.
When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for several novels, including CYPHER, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.
You write predominately financial-based mysteries. Finances can be a dry subject for many, how do you keep readers invested in the story? As a reader, I want a plot that keeps me guessing, but I invest in the characters. I think the focus on the characters carries through in any kind of story—a mystery or general fiction. I want to read—and write—characters I can relate to and pull for.
Writing just about finance could be dry, but the key crime motives are greed, love and hate. Money—finance—is right there in the top three. In my books, if I need to explain a financial aspect that’s important to the story, I keep it short and make sure it’s tied directly to the plot. So “finances” are present in my mysteries, but in the background, influencing the plot, the hero/heroine, and the villain.
A two-part question – Do you see your most recent release CYPHER, as a romantic mystery or suspense? And what inspired you to combine the suspense and romance genres? I love all versions of suspense novels. There’s nothing like sitting on the edge of your seat, turning the page as fast as you can to see what happens next. Or staying awake late into the night because you can’t put a book down.
Rather than action/adventure stories, I’m drawn to psychological suspense. Like I said above, for me, characters rule. Psychological suspense isn’t just exciting to read, it’s exciting to write. Delving into the minds of your characters, into their pasts, into what makes them good or evil. What drives ordinary people to commit murder, pushes them to the point they believe they have no other option? Endless possibilities! Now add a relationship to that caldron. You just upped the stakes. Racing to save a loved one. Adrenaline setting all the senses racing.
Romantic suspense covers everything from steamy ones to stories like CYPHER where the relationship is a major subplot rather than the primary focus of the story. The suspense carries the story forward, with Cara and David pushing inside and outside both the family and Cypher, the family’s business—with neither knowing fully what the other is doing. That adds to the relationship tension. Is their attraction need, manipulation or real?
Growing up, who were your heroes and how do they figure in the books you write? I was one of those quiet kids who always had her nose in a book. I desperately wanted one of Anne McCaffrey’s dragons (of course, I’d be a queen dragonrider!) and during my horse phase, I wrote fan fiction for My Friend Flicka, writing myself into the story. I fell in love with language and storytelling. How does any of that figure into my books? Those characters and worlds captivated me and invited me to move right in. I try to pass that experience to my readers.
Who do you feel is your target audience? Are your book geared for an older or younger generation? That’s a tough question. I’ve found both men and women enjoy my stories, but I didn’t target it at either group. My books aren’t YA or NA—the focus is different—but my daughters’ friends enjoy the books as much as my age group does.
What are you working on right now? Can you tell us about it? The Professor, Honor Code and Cypher are dark mysteries, so to lighten things up, I shifted to the amateur sleuth end of the spectrum for my current novels. I finished a mystery that romps through eastern Washington State with its rivers, wineries, Native American casinos, and assorted farm animals. The relationship has some wicked fun chemistry. Look for it later this year—I’ll keep you posted.
What social media do you participate in? I spend a lot of time on Facebook, keeping up with friends and making new ones. We’re all waiting to see what Facebook’s latest round of changes will mean. I find it frustrating that the application decides what it thinks I want to see and apparently there are more filters coming. As a result, I may spend more energy on my website and link it to various social media outlets.
Those other outlets? Twitter in right up there as a quick way to check on what’s happening. Pinterest – picture love! G+ is fun for a more international focus and I find the communities entertaining. I’m just getting started with Instagram, tumblr