Interview With An Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde

by | Jun 10, 2015 | Author Spotlight, Interview With An Author, Other Helpful Information, The Writing Life | 10 comments

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In our Interview With An Author series, Writer’s Relief asks professional writers to share their tried-and-true secrets for publishing success.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty published and forthcoming books, including Worthy, The Language of Hoofbeats, Take Me With You, Don’t Let Me Go, When I Found You, and Pay It Forward, which was adapted into the Warner Brothers major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt.

CONTEST: Leave a comment by June 17th, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Catherine’s new book, Worthy! U.S. residents only. This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Leanne Phillips! Thank you to all who participated!

Every writer has to learn how the publishing business works. How did you do it?

I joined the local Cambria Writers Workshop. I joined the semi-local SLO (San Luis Obispo) Nightwriters. I scratched up the money to go to conferences such as The Cuesta College Writers Conference and the larger Santa Barbara Writers Conference. I read my work out loud, even though I nearly died of stage fright. In doing so, I caught the attention of more experienced writers willing to mentor me. Then I utilized their kind offers of mentorship for all they were worth. They were worth a lot.

What role does social media play in staying connected to readers and/or building an audience?

In my mind, social media has replaced the book tour. Once upon a time, my publisher would send me to various cities on tour. I’d languish in airports, watch a lot of CNN in hotel rooms, and hope that more than four people would turn up at the bookstores. It hardly seemed worth it, but my publishers felt it was important for bookstore employees and readers to meet me. It breeds loyalty when a reader feels he or she knows the author. Today I build the same loyal relationships on Twitter and Facebook—from my easy chair at home. That makes my dog happy. And I hate that kind of travel, so it makes me happy too.

What was the biggest stumbling block or frustration for you so far, and how did you overcome it?

I think my biggest frustration was the fact that people loved the Pay It Forward concept, but really didn’t pay much attention to the book. At least, not as much as I had hoped. That’s one downside to a movie. People can just see the movie instead. It’s also an odd feature of a book with a lift-out message. People lifted it out and left the book behind.

I’m not bemoaning the fact that more people didn’t read the book. People can read or not read whatever they choose. But people would proclaim themselves my biggest fans, even ask me to fly across the country to speak to their groups, without ever reading a word I’d written. At the time my career was in a slump and I was having trouble staying out of Day Job Land, so I minded. Now I’m doing well with the newer books and able to be more circumspect. So getting by as an author again was enough to overcome it. I just had to keep moving forward.

Submit to Review Board

Fill in the blank. Rejection is____________.

Not always as much of a judgment on the quality of our writing as we assume it to be.

Has a particular rejection ever been helpful to you? What were the details?

Yes, once a combination of an acceptance and a rejection was extremely helpful. My first short story acceptance came to me from a literary magazine called South Dakota Review. The editor said I’d shown “great poise” in the way I’d “depicted the characters with brief brush strokes.” The same story had just been rejected by a smaller, less prestigious literary magazine whose editor felt there was a “hollowness” to the characters.

From this I learned two important things: 1) Some editor may love your work for exactly the same reason another editor doesn’t. 2) Unless you agree that the editor has pointed out a valid flaw, revising your work based on comments in rejections will usually get you nowhere.

 

Hyde_Book

Check out Catherine’s novel, Worthy, on Amazon.

About Worthy

Virginia finally had the chance to explore a relationship with Aaron when he asked her on a date. She had been waiting, hoping that the widower and his young son, Buddy, would welcome her into their lives. But a terrible tragedy strikes on the night of their first kiss, crushing their hopes for a future together.

Nineteen years later, Virginia is engaged, but she has not forgotten Aaron or Buddy. When her dog goes missing and it comes to light that her fiancé set him loose, a distraught Virginia breaks off the engagement and is alone once again. A shy young man has found the missing pet. Before long, Virginia and the young man discover a connection from their pasts that will help them let go of painful memories and change their lives forever.

Follow Catherine on Twitter and check out her website

CONTEST: Leave a comment by June 17th, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of her new book, Worthy! U.S. residents only. This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Leanne Phillips! Thank you to all who participated!

10 Comments

  1. Jan Crossen

    I had not realized that writers mentor other authors. Interesting article and talented author.

    Reply
  2. Robert Crutchfield`

    I have read nearly ALL of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s books and really enjoy her style and characters in addition to inventive and believable plots. My problem with writer’s groups is that 1. I am just not a very good “Group Person.” 2. Many times groups are more discouraging than encouraging!
    I love the one on one “mentoring” idea, but doubt that many successful, busy authors have the time for that. But, I admire Ms. Hyde’s work so much I am going just take a deep breath and search out some writers groups in my California desert area!!
    Thanks, Catherine!

    Reply
  3. Sherry Beard

    I became a fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde when I accidentally stumbled on “When I Found You” and didn’t know she had written “Pay It Forward” until I got to the Author Page at the end. I had not seen the movie but remember how it had impacted a student in my Leadership class who came a report on it. I read a few of her books in radom order and then decided to start with her first book and read them all. I read “Pay It Forward” in due course and watched the movie. I was a little vexed that they changed the story time for the movie but thought it was good and I know it was inspiration from the student who first described it to me. I have purchased several copies of the movie to donate and give as gifts. Although, I have liked all of my favorite author’s book, my first was my favorite and was surprised when “Worth” took it’s place. The problem now is her writing speed can not keep up with my appetite for words by Catherine, although re-reads help ease the hunger. The icing on the cake is the wonderful way she interacts with her many social media fans and friends. I fell very blessed to be numbered among them.

    Reply
  4. Claudia Murray

    Every time I read one of Catherine’s books, I make it a point to keep some Kleenex handy. Generally tears of celebration of the humanity in her characters. I enjoyed reading about her start with writing. Just finished reading Don’t Let Me Go for our book club and recommend it highly! Thanks, Catherine!

    Reply
  5. Shawn Simon

    “Don’t Let Me Go” is my favorite of Catherine’s books so far. I’m a newer fan, and much like some here have said, I didn’t even know she wrote Pay It Forward at first. I have loved learning about her start as a writer from her book, “How to be a Writer in the E-Age”, for any of you interested. As expected, It’s a well written, helpful book for new and aspiring writers, such as myself… Lots of great advice for handling social media and for finding writers’ groups. I’m really looking forward to reading “Worthy” and many more of Catherine’s books, as I have a lot to catch up on! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Leanne Phillips

    I discovered Catherine Ryan Hyde’s short stories (specifically a collection called “Earthquake Weather”) before Pay it Forward was published, and definitely read the book before ever seeing the movie. I went to a book signing for it, too. 😉 I’ve continued to read Ms. Hyde’s books and followed her career because it’s seemed to me to be a shining example of finding and using your own, unique and authentic voice and staying true to your ideals not only as a writer, but as a human being. Ms. Hyde is also very encouraging to and supportive of her fellow writers. I always enjoy hearing her take on rejection and other writing topics. The story about the South Dakota Review is one I don’t recall hearing before. I love the lesson about not taking rejection personally and keeping in mind that everyone’s tastes are different. Thank you for the interview, it was much enjoyed.

    Reply
  7. Robert

    I’m not expecting to win the free copy of your book; however I would like to make a comment. Thanks for explaining your view about rejections and how you react or not react. Brilliant point of view that gives me another layer of thicker skin. I used to be afraid of rejection. It was like a personal attack on a loved one to read a negative review or rejection. Now I just think; that person doesn’t get it, but perhaps another will.

    Reply
  8. Kris N. Wilson

    Actually, I read Pay It Forward and never saw the movie. I had a few people mention the movie to me while I was reading it, but I more or less pushed it to the back of my mind.

    Reply
  9. Victoria

    This interview introduced me to an author I hadn’t previously known, although yes, I did see and love the movie PAY IT FORWARD. I consider it to have one of the most enlightened social implications of any movie. Now that I’m aware she wrote the book I will want to read it as soon as possible, knowing it will differ radically from the movie. I will look forward to the story itself as well as the unaltered message the author intended to convey.

    Reply
  10. Robert P. Mitchell

    I published a book last year, TALES OF A TENACIOUS TENOR, that according to my royalty reports has sold 28 copies to date over a year and a half.
    I work the social media to little avail. I spent many months on Facebook. Twitter, LinkedIN, and Goodreads cultivating friends, mostly from abroad, who love opera. They loved to post singers of old that I either knew, or heard in person, or had some connection with. I loved to tell those stories, but — the only responses I got were ‘likes.’ Everyone commented with one or two words, like ‘bravo,’ or ‘grazie’ or ‘interesting story.’
    But did they buy my book? Did they visit my webpage and enter my blog? Apparently not, and NO, respectively. Online etiquette dictates that we’re not supposed to directly sell or promote out books. So how does someone like Ms. Hyde do it?
    I believe the key to Ms. Hyde’s success — in addition to her talent of course, was her (and I quote from above) “joining the local Cambria Writers Workshop. I joined the semi-local SLO (San Luis Obispo) Nightwriters. I scratched up the money to go to conferences such as The Cuesta College Writers Conference and the larger Santa Barbara Writers Conference.” — quoted from above.
    I belong to a local writing group which has been extremely helpful. But I cannot afford to travel to conferences to meet agents, both because of money and my preaching schedule. Plus my wife does not support what I do.
    I have tried for over a year to develop my social media platforms, but I feel that what I’m doing is a sheer waste of time.
    Suggestions anyone?

    Reply

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