Friday, October 10, 2014

Talking Books with Catherine Astolfo, co-author of Deadly Dozen



Catherine Astolfo retired in 2002 after a very successful 34 years in education. Catherine received the Elementary Dufferin-Peel OECTA Award for Outstanding Service in 1998. She was also awarded Dufferin-Peel Catholic Elementary Principal of the Year in 2002 by the Catholic Principals Council of Ontario.

Catherine is a past President of Crime Writers of Canada and a Derrick Murdoch Award winner (2012). She was a Zonta Club 2012 Nominee for Women of Achievement.

Writing is Catherine’s passion. She can recall inventing fantasy stories for her classmates in Grade Three. Her short stories and poems have been published in a number of literary Canadian presses. In 2005, she won a Brampton Arts Award. Her short stories won the Bloody Words Short Story Award (second and first) in 2009 and 2010. She won the prestigious Arthur Ellis Best Short Crime Story Award in 2012.

Catherine’s novel series, The Emily Taylor Mysteries, are published by Imajin Books and are optioned for film by Sisbro & Co. Inc.

Visit Catherine at:

About the Book:


The DEADLY DOZEN Book Bundle contains 12 complete mystery/thriller novels by award-winning and international bestselling authors: Cheryl Kaye Tardif, Catherine Astolfo, Alison Bruce, Melodie Campbell/Cynthia St-Pierre, Gloria Ferris, Donna Galanti, Kat Flannery, Jesse Giles Christiansen, Rosemary McCracken, Susan J. McLeod, C. S. Lakin and Linda Merlino.

THE BRIDGEMAN by Catherine Astolfo
DEADLY LEGACY by Alison Bruce
A PURSE TO DIE FOR by Melodie Campbell & Cynthia St-Pierre
CHEAT THE HANGMAN by Gloria Ferris
A HUMAN ELEMENT by Donna Galanti
LAKOTA HONOR by Kat Flannery
PELICAN BAY by Jesse Giles Christiansen
SAFE HARBOR by Rosemary McCracken
SOUL AND SHADOW by Susan J. McLeod
INNOCENT LITTLE CRIMES by C. S. Lakin
ROOM OF TEARS by Linda Merlino
DIVINE INTERVENTION by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

With an individual list price total of more than $45.00 and over 640 reviews collectively on Amazon.com, the DEADLY DOZEN Book Bundle is a value-packed, rollercoaster thrill ride that takes you from amateur sleuth to detective to paranormal to ancient mysteries set in intriguing worlds and so much more.

For More Information

  • Deadly Dozen is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us what your book is about? 

Emily Taylor, Principal of a small school in a sleepy town, feels safe again until she discovers the body of caretaker Nathaniel Ryeburn.  The violence plunges Emily back into the memory of a time and place that she would rather forget. Before the police delve into the crime and perhaps discover her husband Langford’s true name and identity, Emily is determined to find out what happened to Nathaniel. Without telling a soul, she begins to read the diary that he secretly left behind.  Here, in his own words, is the madman Emily had known as her unassuming school custodian.

 Following a map written in the diary, Emily uncovers a puppy mill, where numerous animals are imprisoned.  The village is no longer innocent, nor safe.  The criminals remain unknown, wander around town in their disguises as ordinary citizens.   

Throughout the story, Emily consistently makes decisions that create suspicion of her motives and bring attention to herself and to her husband—precisely the opposite of Emily’s goal.  Her actions also drive her, unwittingly, into the snare of a killer, a monster who enjoys wreaking havoc and pain for profit. The revelations about guilt, love, and the masks that people wear are completely shocking and unexpected.

Why did you write your book?

I’ve always been fascinated by evil, particularly psychopaths, whom we often encounter but don’t recognize at first. We can walk past these people, interact with them every day, and be unaware that darkness lurks beneath. What circumstances create psychopathology? In writing The Bridgeman, I knew the topic would be difficult, since I imagined a very disturbing evil created by people masked as ordinary citizens. But I also knew I had a message that love and hope can overcome almost anything, if we let the light in. I was thrilled to have The Bridgeman included in the DEADLY DOZEN: 12 Mystery/Thriller Novels by Bestselling Imajin Books Authors bundle, because it’s the first in the series. Hopefully I’ll gain some new series fans!

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

My main characters are Emily Taylor, her husband Langford, and May Reneaux. When I first began the series, I envisioned Emily Taylor as the “vehicle” that simply drove the plots around, but in the end, Emily became the centre of the story.

She is an elementary school principal who has a dark, secret past that involves Langford. At first, she keeps his identity hidden even from her best friends. They’ve suffered a great deal from his wrongful conviction years ago and are afraid to trust others. In Victim, the second novel, May takes a greater role when her aunt disappears into the woods. Throughout the series, Emily grows in her relationships and her ability to trust again. The supporting characters become fully developed in the third book (Legacy) and give the Taylors the strength to face their ordeal to redemption in Seventh Fire, the last of the series.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

They are truly a mixture of people I’ve met, read about, worked with, and imagined. I start with the seed of reality and create a whole new entity. Features, personalities and quirks become exaggerated or combined within one person. It’s a fascinating process, though, because the characters become real to me after I’ve spent a few hours with them!

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

I do both. First, I make a plot outline based on an idea I’ve either heard or researched or has arrived from some unknown spot in my brain. However, the plot outline is a living document – it goes off in all kinds of different directions pretty often. Sometimes it seems as though the characters are in the driver’s seat and not me. Many of my writer colleagues in DEADLY DOZEN: (12 Mystery/Thriller Novels by Bestselling Imajin Books Authors) have expressed the same sensation.

Your book is set in Burchill.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Burchill is based entirely on Merrickville, a small town just south of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I love this little town, but I mainly chose it because it had an old-fashioned lift bridge and an old lockmaster’s house (now a museum). I added a lake and a native reserve for my plot purposes.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely! One reviewer said that my settings are characters in the novels. I took that as a huge compliment. The village atmosphere, which can nurture both good and bad, is crucial to the development of the plot and the characters. I think it’s one of the things I have in common with many of the other authors in The Deadly Dozen (12 Mystery/Thriller Novels by Bestselling Imajin Books Authors). We love to portray interesting settings.

Is it hard to get a mystery book published?

Yes! The problem is that mystery is extremely popular. Although that’s a good thing in one way, it means the competition is fierce. As my readers have discovered, my novels are not “classic” mystery: I have layers of character studies that are pretty much equal to the plot. Fortunately for me, Imajin Books took a chance that there is a big audience for what I call mighty meaty mysteries – characters, setting, social justice issues and a puzzle to solve. And they were right! In fact, The Bridgeman is part of twelve such “different” books in The Deadly Dozen, which readers are eating up. Readers are astute; they love a challenge.

Is it hard to promote a mystery book and where do you start?

Before Imajin Books (my publisher), I had no clue. I self-published at first and sold to family, friends and colleagues. I did all right, but got left behind when ebooks became popular. When I was offered a contract with Imajin, I was beside myself with joy. Now I promote through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, World Literary CafĂ© – you name the social media, the Imajin authors have been introduced and guided through them by our publisher. If you are a writer just starting out, I suggest reading some books on marketing (such as Cheryl Kaye Tardif’s How I Made Over $42,000 in 1 Month…).

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I suffer from writer’s block all too often! I blame it all on my lack of will power. Most of the time I can’t say no to social events. To get myself back on track, I have to write up a schedule and stick to it. Then I have to write. Just write – anything – until the flow pushes the boulder out of the way and the stream comes tumbling out.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I’d float on my back in a pool and think. I love to cook my novels in my head, so, apologies, but I’d have to be alone. You couldn’t join me.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It doesn’t have the stress of Christmas nor the religious designation. But it has family, the most important ingredient, and great food.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

I’d take you to my favourite restaurant, Fanzorelli’s, which is in Brampton, Ontario. It’s my Cheers. The atmosphere is friendly, but will be quiet enough to talk, and the food is fabulous. If we can bring the whole Deadly Dozen with us, we’d have a ball. We’d probably have to book in for dinner afterward too.

What do you like to do for fun?

Other than being with my family, who all make me laugh and feel loved, I have a bike that’s 40 years old. I love jumping on it and riding along different paths here in town. Other than biking, I like to swim, play cards with friends, and read, read, read. Bundles like DEADLY DOZEN: 12 Mystery/Thriller Novels by Bestselling Imajin Books Authors. Can you tell us about your family?

What do you like the most about being an author?

I love those moments when the writing is flowing, when the subconscious has taken over and my fingers are flying across the keys as though they are unattached. That’s glorious! Other than that, getting a great review, or a reader’s honest and touching reaction, is a true gift. Recently, someone began to read The Deadly Dozen, in which The Bridgeman is first, and told me “I knew I’d like it from the first page and now I’m going to order the second in the series.” Boy, that feels great.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Never stop writing! Even if you don’t yet have a publisher, or your sales haven’t been strong, remember that the story is the thing. You have stories to tell, tales to share, characters to build and plots to plot. If your life is complicated and too busy for a lot of writing, do character sketches and plot outlines and never throw anything away. Keep sending out queries to agents and publishers and, once published, stay with the marketing even when it’s frustrating. Eventually, you’ll find your audience. In the meantime, read, read, read!

Catherine Astolfo: www.catherineastolfo.com

Other links:



4 comments:

Jason. said...

Great interview - really captures what little I know, granted, of Cathy's personality & great introspection of her process. :)

susanjmcleod said...

The characters ARE real, Cathy. All writers know that. Just be careful not to upset them:)

Cheryl Tardif said...

Great interview, Cathy!! :-)

Alison E. Bruce said...

I love what you say about plot being a living document. That's how I work too.

Great interview!