Writer Wednesday: Meet Debut Novelist Catherine West

It’s my pleasure to host Catherine West, my agency mate and friend. Her debut novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, was released by Oak Tara Publishing in March. Since it deals with the Vietnam War, which was waged during my childhood, I thought it an appropriate book to highlight as we approach Veteran’s Day. I’ve read Yesterday’s Tomorrow and recommend it as a poignant, realistic, and yet tasteful depiction of that tumultuous era.

Cathy is an island girl who hates sand! But she loves living in beautiful Bermuda with her two college-aged kids—when they’re home, her pediatrician husband and rambunctious Border collie. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, she holds a BA in English from the University of Toronto.

When she’s not writing or reading, you’ll find her in the garden with her roses or tending her orchids. Catherine volunteers with Bermuda Riding for the Disabled. She loves to shop and takes frequent trips to the US to satisfy the craving and fuel her Starbucks addiction.

OK, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s learn a little more about Cathy. . .

You live in Bermuda but don’t like sand? Wow! That must make life interesting. What are your favorite things about your island home?

Bermuda is a beautiful island. Very small, with a few hills, but rather flat over all. What I love is the color of the ocean—it’s a turquoise expanse of sparkling waves that entice you in for a dip at almost every turn. Our roads are narrow and busy, but framed in beautiful hibiscus hedges and pink oleander. There’s always something pretty to look at whether you’re walking or driving in Bermuda, but if you’re driving, pay attention! I do love the beach but to be honest, much prefer the privacy of my own pool. And I love the fact that Bermuda is only an hour and a half by plane from New York and Boston and two hours from Toronto!

You raise roses and orchids. For someone like me with brown thumbs, I find that impressive. What drew you to those particular flowers, and how many varieties would a visitor find in your yard?

My mother gave me her love of gardening. She was an avid rosarian and won many awards for her roses. I tend to prefer modern roses, especially those with strong scent. At the moment I have over ten different varieties, including a couple of Old Bermuda roses, which run along the lines of the tea rose, and smell beautiful! My orchids are an ongoing project. I have some outside in my slathouse, but the more delicate ones I have been keeping indoors. I have one in bloom at the moment. My dendrobiums usually bloom in March or April.

Shopping is fun. I have a hunch your choices in Bermuda are limited, though, so I can understand your trips to the U.S. What are your favorite shopping destinations? Are you a Mall of America gal, or are the stores in New York City or Los Angeles more your style?

Yes, we have quite a limited selection of things here compared to your average American shopping mall. I have only been to the Mall of America once, and found it a bit overwhelming. I tend to enjoy Boston and of course my annual Thanksgiving trip to my sister’s in Connecticut. We tend to do a lot of shopping that weekend!

I think it’s way cool that you volunteer with Riding for the Disabled? What led you to this organization? Are you a big horse person, or is your primary interest helping those with disabilities?

I’ve always loved horses. I rode as a teenager, but mainly for pleasure. I didn’t really enjoy show-jumping and never got into that. My daughter also rode for a few years.

When a friend talked to me about her involvement with Riding for the Disabled, I thought I would check it out. That was about five years ago. I’m a side-walker, which means I’m dealing with the rider, not the horse. We have children from about five to twelve that come to the lessons I help with. It’s an amazing experience to watch a wheelchair-bound child atop a horse. It’s like you’ve given them the world.

Your debut novel deals with the Vietnam War. Obviously you have a heart for veterans. Do you have family members who served in the military to whom you’ll be paying tribute on Veteran’s Day, which I believe you in Bermuda call Remembrance Day?

I believe my grandfather may have served in WWII. I know some of my mother’s relatives flew planes in that war. Yes, in Bermuda we do call it Remembrance Day, but the idea is the same, honor the Vets.

I have to admit that prior to writing Yesterday’s Tomorrow I never paid all that much attention. Now I have a new perspective on those who put their lives on the line for our freedom. I think they are amazing men and women and definitely need to be recognized for what they do for us, both those who have lost their lives and those who still serve their country today.

Cathy’s Question for You

Since writing my book, I’ve come to look at our Veterans in a new light. How do you see the military? Are there military members in your family whose service you’ll be remembering on 11/11/2011?

Win an Autographed Copy of Yesterday’s Tomorrow

To enter the drawing, leave a comment by Thursday, November 10th. Be sure to leave your email address when prompted so I can contact you if you win.

I’ll post the winner’s name here and in a comment on November 11th.

Congratulations to Erica Vetsch, winner of the drawing!

No purchase necessary.
Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to number of entrants.
Prizes will be mailed to U.S. or Canadian addresses only.

Learn About Yesterday’s Tomorrow

It’s 1967, and Kristin Taylor wants to go to Vietnam to report on the war and honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning journalist like he was. But no editor will send her. So she strikes out on her own and steps into a world more terrifying than she’d imagined.

As she encounters the horrors of war, Kristin struggles to report the truth while desperately trying to keep tabs on her only brother who enlisted some time ago, but both tasks seem impossible.

When she meets photographer Luke Maddox, Kristin knows she’s found a story. The mystery beneath his brooding eyes triggers her curiosity. She’s convinced he’s hiding something and determines to discover his secrets. The only trouble is, he won’t let her within three feet of him.

In an unexpected twist, Kristin and Luke are forced to work together. With war raging all around them, they engage in their own tumultuous battle of emotions. Headstrong and willing to risk it all for what they believe in, they’ll do whatever it takes to fulfill their own private agendas. Kristin is after a story that might get her the Pulitzer. Luke wants retribution from the enemy that took away his family. In the face of death, Kristin and Luke must decide if they’re willing to set aside selfish ambition for the love that seems to have ambushed them and captured their hearts.

View the Book Trailer for Yesterday’s Tomorrow

My review of Yesterday’s Tomorrow

Catherine West tackled a tough subject in Yesterday’s Tomorrow. For those of us who can remember the Vietnam War, there are sure to be strong feelings associated with it. Cathy doesn’t dance around them; she explores them with compassion and understanding.

Through the eyes of journalist Kristin Taylor and photographer Luke Maddox, the reader witnesses the realities of that war as well as the aftermath. While Cathy captures the essence of the experience in tastefully crafted scenes, the story is much more than a snapshot of battles fought. Feelings, choices, and consequences come into play as Kristin and Luke meet in the midst of a turbulent time in history. Although the story takes place in the middle of a war, their relationship is at the forefront. I found myself laughing and crying with them as their friendship deepened into so much more.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow is a moving tale of love and triumph over adversity, one that pays tribute to the brave men and women who served in Vietnam and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. If you enjoy a story with page-turning action, vivid imagery, engaging characters, and a lot of heart, I recommend Yesterday’s Tomorrow.

• • •

To learn more about Cathy and her books, visit http://www.catherinejwest.com.

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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35 Responses to Writer Wednesday: Meet Debut Novelist Catherine West

  1. Carla Gade says:

    It’s always great to hear about Cathy’s writing and life in Bermuda. About vets, my husband and Dad both served in the Navy. Blessing to you both!

  2. Thank you so much, Keli. Each of the writers you have introduced me to have been wonderful discoveries, and Cathy West, a treasure. I am a boomer and this is the time in which I was a teen and young adult. I have an enduring respect for the military and carry the images of that war, televised nightly on the news, covered in chaotic newspaper and magazine reports. We lost a cousin, one month in country, young and contrary to the times, a volunteer in the army. My family are seamen and Navy men, the boy who died the only member on both sides of the family to go army. I look forward to reading Yesterday’s Tomorrow. It touches a part of my life I will never be able to completely reconcile.

    • Cathy West says:

      So many sad stories like that unfortunately. I do feel it’s a time in American history that should not be forgotten, because those boys and women who served deserve all the respect we have. I hope you enjoy the book! Let me know!

  3. Cathy,

    My mom lived on Bermuda when she was 3. Her dad was in the Air Force and stationed there for awhile. I have a picture of them both on a motorcycle; my grandpa said it was easier to get around that way than in a car.

    My mom’s dad served in Vietnam and my dad’s dad in WWII. I’ll be remembering their service to our country this Friday.

    Intrigued to read your book!

    • Cathy West says:

      Hi Lindsay! Sounds like your family was here in the glory days!! Bermuda has changed a lot since the days when the US Base was around. They probably wouldn’t believe it. Still as beautiful, but unfortunately not nearly as peaceful. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Wendy says:

    Cool book trailer! And orchids, I’m impressed. I have a black thumb. I loved learning more about you at conference, Cathy. We have no sand around us…come visit!
    ~ Wendy

    • Cathy West says:

      I’ll be there in two weeks, Wendy! And as long as there is no snow, I’ll be happy. Actually a bit of snow might be fun. It’s the ice I don’t like, especially driving around. I’ve been to five US Thanksgivings now and not seen any snow yet! Maybe this year?!

  5. Cathy, I love the book trailer for Yesterday’s Tomorrow! I look forward to reading it! I grew up on shows like Mash and China Beach. War is such a tough subject to tackle and it can be one of those uncomfortable things that folks are afraid to broach. As Keli pointed out in her review, obviously, your book touches on myriad aspects of a sensitive issue. I love the fact that war and the ramifications of it are merely one facet of your story while the deeper takeaway is relationship-focused and triumph over harsh circumstances!

    Continued blessings during your writing journey!

    (Thank you, Keli, for this wonderful interview! And Cathy…I must admit, I’m a bit envious–in a Christian sense, of course–of your life in paradise!) 🙂

    • Cathy West says:

      Hi Cynthia! Don’t be too envious. We have a booger of a storm going on right now!! Lots of wind and rain, and it hasn’t yet succeeded in blowing away the humidity. I suppose there are downsides to every spot in the world, right?
      I hope you get to read Yesterday’s Tomorrow, I am sure you will relate. I did not want to focus so much on the war, you’re right, but I’m really grateful for the reception the book is getting. While it is a love story, I also want us to remember that time, and those who served and lost their lives, in the name of freedom.

  6. Erica Vetsch says:

    Hi, Keli and Cathy, Fun, fun interview. I can’t imagine island life, having grown up in Kansas where the largest body of water is a dammed up river. 🙂 Roses and orchids? I’m so hopeless when it comes to plants.

    This veterans day, I’ll be remembering lots of my relatives. The military is a strong tradition in my family.

  7. Don’t enter me as I have Cathy’s book and if I ever get through these edits of mine I’ll finally get to read it!

    My grandfather was a decorated veteran and several of my uncles fought in the war too. Being Mennonite, I prefer the peacemaker side, but I do understand the need for those who fight even thought I don’t like it.

    • Cathy West says:

      It’s tough isn’t, Eileen? I hated the whole concept of war. I know my writing Yesterday’s Tomorrow could only have been prompted by God because I had no interest in writing about war whatsoever! But I have to tell you, once you read the stories I did, and learn about the amazingly courageous men and women who served there, it gets into your soul. I will never forget the things I learned, and I am honored to be able to shed even a little light on that time in American history.

  8. Donna Pyle says:

    Keli, thanks for the great interview! Cathy, I had no idea you hate sand. How sad as an island girl! Your book sounds wonderful – can’t wait to dig in! As to your question, I’ve had several military family members – mostly Air Force. My Dad is laid to rest at Houston’s National Cemetery and my family attends the service there every Veteran’s Day. It’s a beautiful place and a lovely way to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country’s liberty.

    • Cathy West says:

      Donna, what a wonderful way to remember and honor your father. That’s awesome. I hope our children and our children’s children grow up with the same values – we must never forget the sacrifices of the men and women who served!

  9. What a lovely trailer! I really thought the music fit it well. I don’t think I have any veterans in my family. I am thankful for our American military. 🙂

  10. Oh, I’d like to be entered. jessica_nelson7590 at yahoo (dot) com

  11. bethkvogt says:

    The more I learn about Cathy, the more I like and admire her! (Our chat at ACFW in the hallway by the elevators is a highlight!!)
    😉
    My husband served in the Air Force for 24 years. Life as a military family caused my patriotism to grow. When we came back from living 2 years in Turkey, I got of the plane and kissed the tarmac. Yep, I really did. I have wonderful memories from our time overseas, but I missed America.
    I’ve read Yesterday’s Tomorrow–and found it riveting. Cathy handled some tough, tough realities with honesty and compassion.
    Funny story: I was reading her book and my 10-year-old saw the title: Yesterday’s Tomorrow. She looked at me and said, “That would be today, right, Mom?”
    Um, yeah.
    I hadn’t even put that together.
    Sigh.

    • Cathy West says:

      Thanks Beth! I too am so glad we finally got to connect in person! I wish we could see each other more often. 😦 I love that your daughter picked up on that!!

  12. Thanks for interviewing and reviewing a debut author, Keli. I’m always so excited to see new authors releasing their first book! Catherine’s subject is perfect for our world today.

  13. Love the trailer…book sounds fantastic…can’t wait t read it. Kudos! (And please tell me you need a volunteer to come clean your pool and tend your roses…Hint! Hint!)

  14. Lisa Jordan says:

    Lovely interview! Cathy, my friend just returned from a Bermuda cruise. She said to tell you she survived the pink/blue bus. She commented on the narrow streets and beauty everywhere.

    My hubby is a former Marine and lots of vets on his side of the family.

    • Cathy West says:

      Lisa, I am glad she took the bus instead of riding a moped!! LOL! Yes, there are some awfully narrow streets, and even though our speed limit is 20mph, nobody really obeys it. Sometimes you can see up to five near misses as you travel around in a day. And we have had more and more road fatalities as the years go by. People don’t learn.

  15. I would love to win Cathy’s book and so happy to meet her on here.
    My Uncle was in WWII, My Hubby & Son, Air Force & Daughter, Army.
    I will be remembering all serving to keep us free. It’s very important to remember all the wars.
    Thanks Keli for having her on here.

  16. Gillian says:

    What a challenging book this must have been to write. It sounds very special. My parents went to Bermuda twenty years ago and loved every minute of it. My grandfather was in WWII, he served in the Navy but never learned to swim. 🙂 I was always very grateful he made it home so I was able to enjoy knowing him.

  17. Cathy West says:

    Gillian, yes it was challenging but the results have been rewarding as well. Interesting fact about your grandfather! I bet he always had a lifejacket on!!

  18. Sue Harrison says:

    Thank you, Keli, for this lovely look into Cathy’s life and her beautiful island! Cathy, you already know how much I enjoyed reading Yesterday’s Tomorrow. Your story spoke to my heart. Both my father and my father-in-law served in WWII, my father-in-law in the front lines in France as a machine gunner.

  19. Loved learning more about you, Cathy! Each year I remember my dad who was a Vietnam Vet. This will be the second Veterans Day without him though. November is also his birthday month so it’s a bittersweet time to remember a great man. I miss him but I know Who’s company he’s keeping. 🙂

  20. jeanniecampbell says:

    great learning more about you cathy. 🙂 i of course will be remembering veterans on 11/11/11. my husband, for one, his father, mother, sister, brother-in-law, brother, both grandfathers, one grandmother and two of my uncles. i’m so thankful for such a rich heritage of servicemen and women.

    please don’t enter me for the contest….i’ve already read, enjoyed, and reviewed cathy’s book! 🙂

  21. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by and to those who left a comment for Cathy.

    I’ve held the drawing for the autographed copy of Cathy’s book using random.org. I smiled when the number 11 appeared. How appropriate! The 11th comment was left by Erica Vetsch, so she’s the winner.

    Congratulations, Erica! I’ll be in touch.

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