Bailey Cates Cattrell aka Cricket McRae grew up in the West and earned degrees in philosophy and English before moving to the Seattle area for twenty years. Now she's back in Colorado, where she lives with her guy and two cats. When not writing, she loves to cook, spin, garden, read, spend time with friends, and bike and hike the gorgeous terrain outside her door. She has also been known to play the occasional round of really bad golf.
R: Hello, Bailey! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
I've always known I was going to be a writer. When I was 19, I wrote in my journal that by the time I was fifty I would have two mystery series and write standalones on the side. It happened when I was 48. So: write down your goals, folks! :)
R: You write three different series under three names. Can you tell us a bit about each of them?
As Bailey Cates, I write the Magical Bakery Mysteries featuring baker and kitchen witch Katie Lightfoot. They are set in Savannah, Georgia and have a reoccurring cast of women who are part of the spellbook club -- which is also their informal coven. The fifth in that series, Magic and Macaroons, released in July. The sixth is titled Spells and Scones, and will be out July of 2016.
As Bailey Cattrell, I write the Enchanted Garden Mysteries which star Elliana Allbright. She owns the Sense & Nonsense perfume and aromatherapy shop, which is also graced with a garden full of little fairy houses, tiny doors set into rocks and stumps, and miniature gardenscapes. It's set in the fictional town of Poppyville, California. The first in that series is Daisies for Innocence, available in January 2016.
And I have the Home Crafting Mysteries, as Cricket McRae. The main character is Sophie Mae Reynolds/Ambrose (she gets married in the series), a soap maker who lives with her best friend and best friend's daughter in Cadyville, Washington (loosely based on the town of Snohomish). There are six in that series, each of which features a different colonial home craft amid the murder and (cozy) mayhem -- food preservation, spinning, cheese making, mead making and vegetable gardening (and soap making, of course). At this time that series is on hiatus.
I actually have a standalone as KC McRae, as well. It's NOT a cozy, but a contemporary western mystery set in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. It's about Merry McCoy, recently released from prison after killing someone in self-defense, who dives into a murder investigation when her cousin is accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend.
R: How do you differentiate between all your series. Do they require a different mindset to write?
Because of the timetables for the different series, I'm always working on two, if not three, books at once. Luckily, they are usually at different stages. For example, right now I'm promoting my recent release (Magic and Macaroons), working on copy edits and soon the galley proofs for my upcoming release (Daisies for Innocence), and working on the next Magical Bakery Mystery (Spells and Scones) which is due toward the end of the year. As it happens, I'm also playing with plot for the second Enchanted Garden Mystery, as yet untitled, and getting ready to record the Home Crafting Mysteries to audiobook.
Holy cow. Now that I write all that down, I look like a crazy person!
When it comes to drafting the stories, each series does require a different mindset, and I achieve that primarily by steeping myself in the personality of my main character. Since I only draft one book at a time that works. The other elements of writing -- editing, revisions, copy edits, blog posts, or research -- don't require that kind of distinction.
R: Tell us about your latest release,
As I mentioned, Magic and Macaroons is the fifth book in the Magical Bakery Mystery series. Katie Lightfoot, her aunt Lucy, and the other members of the spellbook club are meeting after hours at the Honeybee Bakery when a woman stumbles in, starts talking about voodoo queens, and asks for Katie's help in finding a lost talisman before collapsing into a coma. Soon after, a dead body is discovered -- and the dead man has obvious connections to the comatose woman. Cookie Rios, the youngest member of the spellbook club, is originally from Haiti and once practiced voodoo. Katie enlists her reluctant help and delves into Savannah's voodoo culture to find the talisman -- and a killer.
R: Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
I do! I wrote the first Home Crafting mystery, sent out a bunch of queries -- and got a bunch of rejections. In the meantime, I rewrote another book (another western mystery) and sent out queries for that, in June of 2005. On December 26, 2005, I got a phone call from an agent. She wanted to represent the western mystery. She had already rejected the Home Crafting mystery, but didn't seem to remember. I asked if she would represent both the cozy and the western, and she agreed.
She sold the cozy within weeks, and another two to go along with it. She never sold the western, which was the book that had sparked her interest in the first place. I'm with a different agent now, because mine left the business, but still at the same agency.
How did I feel when I got the call? Well, it was actually an email, and my first reponse was disbelief. Then I called up my writing group buddies and broke out the champagne!
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
Showing up. Even when I don't want to, if I show up at the keyboard, it's usually okay. I can write pretty much anywhere, though I find it really difficult on planes because I don't like someone looking over my shoulder. If I’m really having problems with a scene, then changing venues can be helpful, as can writing by hand.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
It’s hard to tell what might surprise people, but I’m afraid I’m not very secretive. One thing might be that, while I love writing cozies, I also like to write grittier, scary stuff. I have a feeling there is a thriller in my future.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
Probably shouldn't say. Not sure the statute of limitations is up. : )
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
This question gave me pause, but when I think about all the series together I think I want people to take away a sense of possibility.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
My website is www.baileycates.com (or www.cricketmcrae.com -- it's the same place). I have a personal Facebook page (Cricket McRae) and an author page as well (Bailey Cates). I'm on Twitter, too: @writerbailey and @cricketmcrae.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Read -- everything, but definitely the kind of thing you want to write and also plenty of books on the craft of writing. Write and write and write. Repeat forever.
R: What question do you wish interviewers would ask you? And what’s the answer?
What do you wish you had more time for? And my answer would be that I’d like time to work on some more experimental standalone projects.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Love both, but cat (as evidenced by my two: Cheesecat the Orange and Minerva the asthmatic wonder kitty)
Beach or Pool? Beach
Steak or salad? Steak on salad
Favorite Drink? Tea
Favorite Book? So hard to choose, but if there’s a gun to my head, then Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read it every year.
Favorite TV Series? Loving Sherlock right now.
Favorite Movie? A toss up between Casablanca and Bandits
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be ____Aristotle_______________
If I had just one wish, it would be________More wishes. Sophomoric, but true._________________________________
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be ___No one____
Folks, Bailey will give away a copy of Magic and Macaroons to one lucky commenter! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!Contest ends midnight, Sept. 3!