Author’s Inspiration: “Bayou Fire”

Hi, everyone. This week, I’m sharing the inspiration behind Bayou Fire, my multi-award winning paranormal historical romance.

I’d wanted to visit New Orleans for decades simply because of the food and music, and finally got the chance in 2016, when I needed to go there on business. I took some vacation time in conjunction with the trip so that I could do some sight-seeing.

Now, one of the things I do when I’m going to visit a place is that I read up on its history. I didn’t know a ton about New Orleans, so there was a lot of ground to cover.  In the process of my research, I learned about Delphine LaLaurie, and the fire at her mansion that revealed the abuse of numerous slaves. That incident became the centerpiece for the historical portion of the tale.

BF AwardsHonestly, Bayou Fire remains the book of which I am most proud among all of my works. I was able to get across my love for the city of New Orleans and its culture, as well as some of the social issues that have plagued the city for centuries (e.g., racism). I am not blind to New Orleans’ faults, by any stretch of the imagination. Still, it was an amazing and evocative place from which I was able to draw inspiration across a couple of research trips and a lot of reading to create a time-spanning romance.


Want your own copy of Bayou Fire?  Here are the book blurb and purchasing links:

Diana Corbett’s childhood was plagued by unceasing dreams of smoke and flames. The nightmares went away, until the noted travel writer’s first night on assignment in Louisiana … when they returned with a vengeance. Could the handsome Cajun, Amos Boudreaux, be the key to unlocking the secret of BAYOU FIRE?

Award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart presents her first full-length historical paranormal tale, set against the backdrops of modern-day and 1830s New Orleans.

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Author’s Inspiration: “Hugs and Hisses”

Hi, everyone. This week, I’m skipping two titles: Brief Interludes is a collection of short fiction that I’ve already discussed, and Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes is an omnibus of the eponymous series, which I’ve already covered.

That brings us to Hugs and Hisses: My Mission of Love as a Shelter Volunteer. There is no better way to explain my inspiration than with the first few paragraphs of my author’s note:


I need to be frank here and tell readers that I initially abandoned this manuscript for a couple of years. I didn’t think it captured all of the joy that I felt from my volunteerism with such a wonderful organization.

Then, on September 19, 2015, I came home to find that my flame-point Balinese cat Teddy, whom we adopted from Humane Society Silicon Valley as a kitten, had died suddenly at the age of two. The vet thinks he had a blood clot; there was nothing I could have done … and yet my heart was breaking all the same and my head was filled with irrational recriminations about what I might have done differently. Teddy was one of the hundreds of cats and kittens I have worked with since I started volunteering at the shelter in 2010 and he was the first one who I knew really was supposed to be my little guy.

Teddy was visually impaired, but that didn’t stop him from living life to the fullest. He loved noisy toys that he could find by tracking the sound, and sitting in the open, screened windows at twilight to experience all of the sounds and smells outside. He was my precious baby boy.

I picked up this manuscript again because of him. What I found were stories of love, compassion, and outright heroism. Teddy was an inspiration in more ways than I can name; he gave me the courage to finish this book and to share it with all of you.


Want your own copy of Hugs and Hisses? Here are the purchase links and back cover copy:

Award-winning author, animal communicator, and Reiki practitioner Sharon E. Cathcart shares tales from her humane education work in this new memoir. Sharing stories of both happiness and heartbreak, Cathcart brings us into the challenging world of animal rescue.

All proceeds from the book will benefit Humane Society Silicon Valley.

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Author’s Inspiration: “In The Eye of The Storm”

eye2Hi, everyone. Today I’m going to talk about how I came to write my award-winning second novel, In The Eye of The Storm. It’s the sequel to In The Eye of The Beholder and, along with Through the Opera Glass, completes the Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes series (there’s an omnibus edition available with all three books; the paperback version also has historical photos and illustrations related to the text … but I digress).

I knew I wanted to tell a three-generation story for Erik LeMaître, but I have to be honest with you: I struggled. I started the second book from three different perspectives and none of them satisfied me. I wound up doing a flash/short fiction challenge for an entire year (that’s where Through the Opera Glass came from), during which time I “met” some of the characters who helped me flesh out the story. One of them was Clarice, Erik and Claire’s granddaughter. It was she who gave me a way to bring all of those disparate perspectives together and create the novel.

PrintAt the same time, I was researching Paris’ modern art movement. I have been fascinated by the Fauvists for years, and I wanted to make them part of the story. If you’ve read the book, you know that I ultimately succeeded … and used Gilbert Rochambeau’s talent as a painter to bring Claire and Veronique to San Francisco, just in time for the 1906 earthquake. That’s the storm into which they walk.

I was able to employ my knowledge of San Francisco history to good effect in the story, even if I do say so myself. I used to live and work on the Presidio of San Francisco, and some of that history is permanently engraved in my mind. I particularly enjoyed being able to write about people like George Torney, who was an unsung hero of the earthquake recovery, and the Buffalo Soldiers. I was also able to talk about the bigotry behind the Chinese Exclusion Act, which directly affects a subplot in the novel.

I loved writing this book. I am very proud of the research I did, and of the accolades it has received. I hope you will consider having a look as well. It stands alone, so if you haven’t read In The Eye of The Beholder you will still be able to follow the story. Still, reading both titles will give you a more complete picture.


Want your own copy of In The Eye of The Storm? Here are the back cover copy and purchase links.

San Francisco, 1948

When a mysterious stranger approaches Clarice Kaye in her favorite restaurant, his words trigger a voyage of discovery: “You look just like your grandmother, but you have your mother’s eyes.”

There was only one question in Clarice’s mind: how could he know?

Armed with family diaries that tell of the scandalous grandmother for whom she was named, Clarice embarks on a journey through Paris’ modern art movement, 1906 San Francisco, and the depths of the Opéra Garnier in this long-awaited sequel to In The Eye of The Beholder.

In The Eye of The Storm is the 2015 Silver Medal Winner for Best Fan Fiction in the Global eBook Awards.

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Author’s Inspiration: “Clytie’s Caller”

Clyties_CallerHi, everyone. Can you believe it’s February already? It seems like time is flying more than usual.

The inspiration for my sweet Regency novella, Clytie’s Caller, was dealing with my own PTSD. Post-traumatic stress affects not only combat veterans, but survivors of trauma like domestic violence, sexual assault, and more. I started thinking about what it would be like to be a young woman in a time when PTSD wasn’t really understood, and that it would be like for her to see her world shrink. Having also experienced agoraphobia at once point in my life, I knew the fear of stepping outside the door and feeling unsafe.

So, I created Clytemnestra Preston, the titular Clytie.  Her family values education, and are well-to-do but not nobility. Her brother, Archimedes (Archie), is engaged to a young woman named Isabel, whose cousin Samuel is a physician. He’s also a veteran, and when he sees Clytie panic in the Assembly Rooms at Bath, he recognizes some of her symptoms from treating men with “shell shock.” He’s attracted to her, so he sets out to help her overcome her fears without being seen as a threat.

This was one of my favorite stories to write. It’s a “clean read,” and one that readers of Regency have enjoyed very much. I do hope you’ll have a look as well.


PrintBath, 1816. Clytemnestra Preston has become so terrified of life that she refuses to leave her room. Not even her family can convince her to take her place in Society again. Doctor Samuel Whittington, late of His Majesty’s Army, may be her only chance for a cure … and romance. Can Sam convince Clytie to open the door, and her heart?

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Author’s Inspiration: “His Beloved Infidel”

31432511Hi, everyone. My apologies for being a day late on this post (I try to do these on Saturdays). I had an early morning for the last day of my business trip and it just didn’t happen.

The idea for His Beloved Infidel came to me as I was reading a book called Daughter of Persia: A Woman’s Journey from Her Father’s Harem Through the Islamic Revolution, by Sattareh Farman Farmaian. Farmaian was the first social worker in Iran, and she writes not only about the challenges she faced in that regard but also the radicalization of young men by the Ayatollahs. When Khomeini came to power, she narrowly escaped the country — and execution.

After reading this book, I reflected on some conversations I had many years previously with a Persian colleague (most of which were ridiculously ignorant on my part, I must admit) … and then went even further back to my high school years. We had an exchange student from Tehran, Ramin, who could not go home because all flights from the US to Iran were cancelled. To this day, he lives in the same area where I grew up (I looked him up recently). Anyway, I started thinking about what it would be like to be an ordinary person caught up in these extraordinary events. I regretted not having been more intellectually curious and asked Ramin questions about his culture and country so that I would have been less ignorant with my colleague … but I didn’t. I also interviewed my hairdresser and her sister, who are also from Iran, to make sure that I had the cultural issues of the time right, and that I wouldn’t do or say anything insensitive.

I knew that I wanted to look at prejudice, but I also knew that I wanted a love story between two people of disparate backgrounds. So, I put Farukh and Catherine in Paris, as colleagues, and gave Farukh a brother who was growing increasingly radicalized. I showed the romance between my hero and heroine developing over several months, even as Farukh is trying to keep a secret from the woman he’s loved from afar and is now having the opportunity to get to know better.


Want your own copy of His Beloved Infidel? Here are the back cover copy and purchase links. The cover price is $1.99.

Farukh and Catherine are colleagues at Paris’ World Language Institute. He is Persian; she is American. Can their newly-discovered love survive the strain of Iran’s Islamic Revolution?

Author Sharon E. Cathcart (In The Eye of The Beholder, Through the Opera Glass) presents her first tale of inter-ethnic romance. Set against the backdrop of real-world events, Cathcart tells the story of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events.

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