Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Interview with Beth Cato: Real vs Imaginary Fears
I’m so excited to have Beth Cato on the blog today. She’s the author of the Clockwork Dagger steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager. In honor of Halloween and the November 10th release of her novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone, she’s agreed to answer a few questions about fear.
PAT: Hi Beth and welcome to our chat about fears. First, tell me what scares you more? Real-life frightening things like shark attacks or heights, or fantasy things like vampires and zombies?
BETH: Real-life stuff definitely scares me the most, especially the worst monsters of all: people. But I have to add that I really, truly, hate zombies. I try to avoid books and movies with zombies I tend to have awful nightmares as a result.
PAT: Speaking of books and movies, do you think some scary elements work better in one vs. the other?
BETH: Personally, I prefer scary blood-gore elements in books because I can skim or re-read as necessary. Movies and shows tend to throw too much in our faces now. It ends up being more revolting than scary, or so ridiculously over-the-top that I roll my eyes.
PAT: Why do you think things designed for play--dolls, clowns, fun houses--can frighten us?
BETH: There's something especially disturbing about spoiled innocence. It also says a lot about our jaded perspective as adults, too. Children see a bin of naked dolls in a thrift store and think, wow, dolls! We see the nudity and tangled limbs and heads turned the wrong way and scribbled marker over plastic flesh. We realize that there's a story behind those dolls, something that ended up with them being abandoned there. As adults, we see almost too much. We read into the psychology. We know the smile is fake, or it’s hiding something.
PAT: Interesting and I totally agree. Probably a similar line of thinking could be applied to the difference between how children and adults experience fairytales.
Have you ever written a frightening real-life event into one of your books?
BETH: Oh yes! I deal with social anxiety and I know panic attacks all too well. In my Clockwork Dagger books, my heroine Octavia has incredible healing powers. Her magic enables her to detect illnesses in those around her by hearing their ailments in the form of song. This utterly overwhelms her in large crowds--panic attack mode. The fact that she has an audio-sensory reaction is also inspired by my 10-year-old autistic son, who requires noise-canceling headphones to endure crowds.
PAT: What fears have faded as you’ve aged and which have stayed the same?
BETH: I spent many years confined by fear. My official diagnoses read like the table of contents in a psych book: agoraphobia, anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (note that I had to alphabetize)... My agoraphobia kept me largely housebound for years. I didn't have a driver's license, even though my husband was deployed in the Navy, so I walked everywhere and begged for rides beyond that. I stopped writing for a decade, too. I was too afraid of criticism or rejection.
I hit rock bottom when my son was an infant. I knew I needed to actively work to pry myself out of my misery. It was only when I started to write again, and to submit work, that I started to learn to drive a car and venture outside of my comfort zone.
My fear still limits me. I avoid driving at night and on metropolitan freeways or in strange places. At conventions, I need safe zones to retreat to, and I obsessively plan out my schedule and meals. I'm eccentric, sure, but I function for the most part. And I'm happy.
PAT: I think it’s amazing and wonderful that you had and continue to have the strength to push through your fears and establish a successful writing career--and that you’ve used your personal experiences in your writing.
Thank you so much for stopping by. And, guys, be sure to check out the Clockwork Dagger series, and don’t forget to order her novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone. (Also, she had another series coming out next summer!).
Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella
A few months after the events of The Clockwork Crown...
After being rescued by Octavia Leander from the slums of Caskentia, Rivka Stout is adjusting to her new life in Tamarania. But it’s hard for a blossoming machinist like herself to fit in with proper society, and she’d much rather be tinkering with her tools than at a hoity-toity party any day.
When Rivka stumbles into a laboratory run by the powerful Balthazar Cody, she also discovers a sinister plot involving chimera gremlins and the violent Arena game Warriors. The innocent creatures will end up hurt, or worse, if Rivka doesn’t find a way to stop Mr. Cody. And to do that means she will have to rely on some unexpected new friends.
Available for just 99-cents