Interview with Cathy Conradie

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes :-) It was a my first attempt of a short story about a horse called Aquanaut. I was about 10 or 11 years old when I wrote it.
What do you read for pleasure?
Biographies, autobiographies and realistic fiction. I don't like fantasy, sci-fi or horror books. I also enjoy a book that keeps you in suspense.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I have created my own website with Yola and market my books through social media like Facebook and Twitter.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Port Elizabeth and spent my first two years of my life there before we moved to Jansenville (in the Eastern Cape). My father was a policeman and he was the station commander of Jansenville in the early 1980's. We then had to move to Pretoria (Gauteng) so I could attend school that provided education for visually impaired pupils. I grew up in a police home and have been exposed to the South African Police as early as I could remember. Growing up in Doornpoort (Gauteng) in the 1980's and 1990's I was quite lonely as it was a very small town back then. I then started writing to keep myself occupied.
When did you first start writing?
I started to do serious writing at the age of about 12 years :-) I did not have a typewriter or a PC back then and my mom always had to buy me exam pads to write in.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Sacrifice caught me by surprise. I woke up one morning (in December 2010) with inspiration to write a crime thriller but had to consider my options very carefully. From the moment I started typing on my PC until completing The Sacrifice (originally Die Opofferings - the Afrikaans version) was only three days. I found it very difficult to stop writing once I started. What still means so much to me and it still makes me emotional thinking about it is that two colleagues of mine (both of them had cancer) were able to read the book before they died. I will probably never know what impact it had on their lives or what impact it may have on their families.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
A colleague of mine when I still worked for the SA Police Service told me about Smashwords as it is really difficult to publish your work in South Africa if you are not famous or if you do not move in the right circles. It is extremely expensive to publish your work in hard copy and I am very grateful for the chance Smashwords offered me :-)
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I have always had a very vivid imagination. My characters (especially in Refined By His Fire) feel so real that I want to go visit them, just to come to the realisation that they do not exist :-( I love it to inspire people, to bring them hope and to create stories that people can associate with. I really believe it helps people to handle life's challenges better and to put things (problems if you want to call it as such) in perspective.
What are you working on next?
I am stuck with a serious case of writer's block at the moment as I have an idea of a Christian fiction thriller but loads of research needs to be done and the story lines will have to be written very carefully in order not to step on toes. The focus point will be on a passenger aircraft being involved in a serious emergency.
Who are your favorite authors?
Daleen Matthee, Paul C Venter, Jerry B Jenkins.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Making a difference in other people's lives, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Unfortunately I have very little time to write and even to read. I am always trying to squeeze 36 hours into a 24 hour day as I am self-employed and running my own business. I do like to watch movies and documentaries if I have some spare time to do so.
Is Refined By His Fire a true story or a fictional novel? Perhaps a combination of both?
Refined By His Fire is a story about fictional characters and Christian fiction. Some of the scenes depicted in the novel are actual crimes scenes that I attended to as a police officer (when I was still in the SA Police Service) and crimes scenes that friends and former colleagues of mine had to attend. The scenes that my colleagues and friends attended were narrated to me and it inspired me to use it in my story lines for Refined By His Fire. Lots of the story lines are fictional and is a result of a very vivid imagination! :-)
What message to your readers did you want to bring across with Refined By His Fire? Is it a book of hope? Is it a book of inspiration?
Many people face very difficult circumstances and go through terrible ordeals. It often makes them to wonder where God was or is in their time of need. The central message of Refined By His Fire is that irrespective of what you have to face and or go through God is always there. Unfortunately in life one goes through very ugly things. I personally have had to go through two divorces and experienced loss in the form of loved ones that passed away, financial difficulties, being diagnosed with a (non-cancerous) brain tumor amongst many other things, but despite of all these that one can still keep one's faith and never have to lose hope because God fights the battle for you.
You wrote The Sacrifice in two days. What message did you want to bring across to your readers with this book?
The focus point of The Sacrifice is very much on cancer patients suffering from leukemia. I have lost family members and friends because of cancer. The Sacrifice was written and dedicated to cancer patients in mind and the central message of The Sacrifice is about God's love, mercy, forgiveness, friendship and yes, sacrifice. Its message is about the sacrifice every police officer makes on a daily basis for their country and their fellow citizens, but also about how Paul Visser saved his friend's life through a bone marrow transplant.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Fiela se kind by Daleen Matthee, Susters van Eva by Daleen Matthee, 'n Pot vol winter by Maretha Maartens, Paul C Venter (he wrote the script for the TV series Konings and Torings), The Left Behind series by Jerry Jenkins. I have more than five favourite books and it is a bit difficult to answer this one :-) I like books that are realistic or which are based on true events.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I would really love a Kindle as a Christmas gift :-) :-)
Describe your desk
Clean and organised. I like to have systems in place so I can remain hands-on. My PC also has several folders so I can find documents easily.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords offered me a chance to publish my works for free and to make it available to anyone across the world. With the friendly and professional help of Jesse Gordon I managed to format my books correctly to publish in the premier catalogue. My publisher unfortunately passed away this year so my books will not be available in hard copy (for now). He was instrumental in getting my works published and I told him about Smashwords. He also used the Smashwords platform to publish his works. I hope to reach out to many people because of the help from Smashwords!
What do your fans mean to you?
If it wasn't for my readers my books would not be distributed. What I mean by that is that even if I did publish on Smashwords my books would just be there if no one downloads it. Because of the effort my readers go through to download or to buy my books many people's lives get changed because word of mouth spreads about the inspirational messages my books hold. I am humbled and grateful for this ripple effect.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I don't have a Kindle yet :-( If and when I do get one I will certainly download them from Smashwords. A very good friend of mine also publishes her work on Smashwords and I really want to read it. It is difficult to move a desktop PC to your bedroom and to read an e-book in comfort like that :-) :-) :-) For now I read books in the good old fashion - hard copies.
What is your writing process?
When I get inspiration for a book I will start writing the story line. Most of the time the story line lands up in the dustbin and I will repeat the process until I am satisfied that the story line is the way I want it. I do not believe that a book must be written within a certain timeframe. Some books takes longer to write than others. I am also very peculiar about who I am allowing to read my ideas and story lines. It is not often that anyone gets to read a story I wrote until it is 100% finalised.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Heck no. I cannot really remember the first book I read. I was a complete bookworm in school and loved to read. I still love to read, but today one has little time to do so because of the demands of social media and trying to earn a living.
How do you approach cover design?
The cover needs to attract the reader immediately and kind of summarise the content of the book. It must trigger the reader's curiosity and interest to want to read the book and make it difficult to put it down.
Is there anything like a stupid idea or silly story lines?
No. However if you do write about something realistic, even if in a fictional story, make sure you do proper research about your topic first. Never feel afraid to ask advice from fellow writers.
Published 2017-12-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Sacrifice
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 16,840. Language: English. Published: October 29, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » African
(4.00 from 1 review)
Antonie Marais and Paul Visser meet each other during a sports contest where they become rivals because of an incident. Antonie vows to himself to take revenge on Paul, but never could have imagined that Paul will save his life one day. A true reflection on what police members of South Africa are subjected to on a daily basis.