Genre: Women’s Fiction
Buy: Hidden in the Heart
Everything Claire wants seems to be beyond her reach…
After losing her mother to cancer and suffering a miscarriage soon after, Claire Ferguson numbs the pain with alcohol and pills, and wonders if her own life is worth living.
Adopted at birth, Claire is convinced she has some unknown genetic flaw that may have been the cause of her miscarriage. She must find a way to deal with the guilt she harbors. But exoneration will come with a price. With her marriage in trouble and her father refusing to answer any questions about her adoption, Claire begins the search for her birth mother. For the first time in her life, she really wants to know where she came from. But what if the woman who gave her life doesn’t want to be found?
For all those who have loved, experienced loss, and lived life’s roller-coaster.
1. Thanks for joining us today, Catherine. Can you tell us where you are from?
I’m so glad you asked that, because so many people just assume I’m American. I’m actually from Bermuda, a tiny island about 700 miles off the coast of South Carolina. Bermuda is a British Colony, so I’m fortunate to be able to hold both a Bermudian passport and a British passport. We’re a beautiful island blessed with pink sandy beaches, azure seas and a moderate climate most of the year. We love visitors, so come see us soon!
2. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure. As I said, I was born and raised in Bermuda. I spent a few years at boarding school in England, and I’ve also lived in Canada. My mother was from South Africa and Dad is from Northern Ireland. I’ve traveled to both countries a few times. I’m pretty well-rounded culturally! I’m enjoying being an empty nester, as our youngest is now in his second year of college. My husband and I are traveling more, and we’re in the throes of preparing for our daughter’s wedding in May! When I’m not writing, I love to be out in the garden with my roses or taking my border collie (third child) for long walks. I love to read, sing and I enjoy the odd game of tennis here and there.
3. When and why did you begin writing?
I suppose I began writing in school. I’d always loved to read from a very early age, so writing stories seemed to come naturally. My teachers would remark every year that I had a very active imagination! This got me into trouble more than a few times. I wrote my first ‘romance’ such as it was, when I was about thirteen. From then on, I was hooked. I started writing seriously, aiming for publication when I was in my early twenties. I don’t think I ever thought about what I was doing, I wrote because I loved it. Becoming a published author has been an added bonus.
4. Do you have a specific writing style?
I love this question because I know so many people will have a different answer for it. I think I’m just starting to come into my own as far as my style. I think I can thank my British education for the fact that I love to write with a lyrical voice. I’m in love with alliteration, metaphors and analogies. I’ve been told I do dialogue well, and I have to admit, that’s my most favorite part of writing a novel, watching those characters interact with one another. I do love descriptive scenery and sometimes tend to go overboard on this! As far as style pertaining to ‘how’ I write, I’m definitely a seat of the pantser. I have no idea where the story is going until I’m about halfway in. Of course then I have to go back and fix a few things, but it’s how I roll. I’ve tried plotting and failed miserably. It just doesn’t work for me.
5. How many books have you written and what is your favorite?
Well, my latest release, Hidden in the Heart, is my second published novel. My first was Yesterday’s Tomorrow, which came out in March 2011. These two stories are so different that it’s hard to say which would be my favorite. Yesterday’s Tomorrow was definitely a romance, with the backdrop of The Vietnam War, and Hidden in the Heart falls more into the genre of women’s fiction. Other books I’m working on range from straight romance to family saga. But I can promise that I will never write a story without some romance thread!
6. How did you come up with the title for Hidden in the Heart?
Another great question! This was pretty much a no brainer for this particular book. The story centers around Claire, a young woman, adopted at birth, who begins to search for her birth family. It’s also the story of Claire’s birth mother. When I was writing this story, I imagined how difficult it must be to give up a child—a child you could never acknowledge, never watch grow, never talk to or share your life with—a child that would remain hidden in the heart.
7. Is anything in your book based on realistic experiences?
Actually, yes, this book was written after my own search and reunion journey. Like Claire, I was adopted at birth. I never had a great desire to find my birth mother, though I admit to being curious. Once I was married and had my own children, a strong desire to know began to grow within, until the day I woke up and knew I had to search. It wasn’t an easy journey, but I have no regrets. While Claire’s story in Hidden in the Heart is fictional, all of the emotions she experiences are very real, and I’ve lived them.
8. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For this particular story, the hardest part was reliving it all. Although, like I said, Claire’s story is made up, I had to reach back and remember, relive, those deep, gut twisting emotions that shaped every step of my journey to reunion. It was a cathartic experience to say the least. I still can’t read parts of this story without crying. I was very blessed to find the answers I sought, and I have a wonderful relationship with the sister I found, but it was by no means an easy path to tread. But I’m so grateful I was able to write about it, and share it with my readers.
9. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Forgiveness. As each year goes by, I’m discovering the great gift of forgiveness. Life isn’t easy. Bad things happen. People let you down, lie to you, betray you, perhaps even walk away. The greatest gift you can give somebody who has hurt you is your forgiveness. It’s also the greatest gift you can give yourself. It’s never easy. It hurts. But it is the first step to healing, and I believe through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, it is possible, and a vital part of life. All the characters in Hidden in the Heart have been hurt at some level. They must deal with the pain they’re experiencing, but must also acknowledge that the only way to move through it and move on is to find it in their hearts to forgive those who have done wrong.
10. Do you have anything you’d like to say to your readers?
I’m so grateful for my readers, each and every one! It’s so hard sometimes, being a writer, as it is a solitary occupation. But I love to interact with my friends and family on Facebook, and I love connecting with my readers on my author page. I’m always delighted when a reader takes the time to tell me how much they enjoyed one of my books. I love talking about my characters and stories with them, and I like to make myself accessible that way.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Karen!
Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com