Cathryn Chapman


Cathryn Chapman nearly gave up her writing career when her eighth grade English teacher refused to believe her sensual poem could have been written by somebody so young. Two years later, when Cathryn was fourteen, that same English teacher declared she should start writing for Mills & Boon, and a women’s fiction writer was born. Cathryn graduated from university with a business degree and spent seven years travelling the world — working on cruise ships and living in London, New York, Paris, and South America. In her thirties, she left a successful marketing and public relations career to pursue her dream of gracing the stages in London’s West End. When this failed dismally, Cathryn settled down with her husband and baby boy and finally stayed in one country long enough to write her first novel, SEX, LIES, AND CRUISING.

Cathryn is currently working on the second and third novels in the series. LOVE, DRUGS, AND NEW YORK. Sign up to Cathryn's Readers' Group ( to get invitations for Beta Readers of the first draft, and/or discounts and release news.

Smashwords Interview

How do you approach cover design?
This was a long road... The first thing I did was hire a cover designer through an online freelancing website. I posted a 'job', and had over fifty proposals in about two hours! I ended up choosing a lovely young lady from Eastern Europe, and we spent a week or so emailing back and forth about ideas, and she created about four different concepts, some involving life rings and anchors, and others with ships and girls. At the time, the working title of my book was actually 'The Lust Boat', and we ended up with a picture of a girl in a g-string bikini, standing on the beach, with a ship on the horizon. I can't remember exactly, but it cost me very little. Like, under $20.

But I didn't love it. It still screamed 'SELF PUBLISHED!' to me... So then I contacted a professional book cover designer online. His portfolio was impressive (much more so than the girl I'd previously worked with on it), and luckily, he was prepared to work on it as a 'pro bono' job, in exchange for being able to display it on his website. He came up with a range of covers, and I ran a little survey on my Facebook page, asking my friends to vote on those, and the best two from the odesk girl.

If that exercise taught me anything, it's that covers are totally subjective. Almost every single cover I posted received votes, and although a couple of them received quite a few more votes than the others, there wasn't a runaway winner.

At the same time, a reader of another author's books contacted the second cover designer to inform him that another author named Roz Lee had JUST released a book called 'The Lust Boat'. I contacted Roz to apologise, as when I had originally researched my title (a long time earlier), her book hadn't been released yet. Roz was totally lovely and gracious, and said she actually didn't mind at all... BUT, given my book is kind of humorous and 'chick lit', that perhaps The Lust Boat wasn't actually a good title. She writes erotica, after all (check out her books for some steamy sex!)... She also said the cover I had chosen didn't indicate it was a chick lit book, and might not attract, or even turn off, my desired audience.

So I went back to the drawing board... with the title AND with the cover. Phew!

I studied chick lit book covers and saw that they were all illustrated. I contacted a few illustrators whose work I loved, and realised I totally couldn't afford them :(

So I contacted a really good friend of mine, Jo Kuipers, who also happens to be a kick arse graphic designer, and asked her if she'd be interested in giving it a go... I told her I wanted a girl on the cover, but didn't want to show her face, as I like the idea of readers picturing their own characters. She did some concepts, we both did some searching of stock libraries for photos. I found a photo I liked, and sent it to my other designer friend in Tunisia, Wasfi Hfaidhia, who I had employed to create all the fabulous banners you see on my website. He recoloured the girl's hair (it was red, I needed brown), and added some pink colour to her lips... Jo compiled it with background and text, and voila! My cover was born.

Other people possibly aren't quite so drawn out and particular in producing their covers, but I work in marketing and public relations in my day job, so I knew it was something I wanted to nail. Hopefully I have!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Without a doubt, 'The Bronze Horseman' by Paullina Simons is my absolute favourite book of all time. When I was working on my last ship, I was doing my weekly stint in the library, and a grey-haired gentleman came up to me, placed a massive hardback book on my desk, and said, "If you want to read the best book you've ever read and the greatest love story of all time, read this book!" I started reading it, and had trouble tearing myself away from it to work, sleep, or do anything else, until it was finished!

I also love 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'. The movie is terrible (sorry, Nic and Penelope), but the book is awesome. The first few chapters are slow, and I nearly abandoned it a few times, but friends convinced me to persist, and I'm glad I did. I plan to write an epic historical romance in the next couple of years, but I need a lot of writing practice before I tackle that!

I don't know if it's an all-time favourite, but a book I really enjoyed recently was 'The Power Trip', by Jackie Collins. Jackie is the ultimate in sexy Author success for me. She's on the cover of Vanity Fair, which is something I have on my vision board... so I wanted to see what made her so successful. Once I started The Power Trip, I knew why. She created the characters brilliantly, the plot was perfect, and the payoff was fabulous. I had no idea 'who died' and 'who dunnit' until the moment I was supposed to. Perfection!

Another book I really loved, and probably a symbol of a favourite genre, is 'The Firm', by the talented John Grisham. I love a good action/thriller, and when I first read this, I had already seen the promotions for the movie, so I naturally pictured Tom Cruise as Mitch, which worked well. It's a really great read, and a benchmark of white collar thrillers for me!

In a departure from all that, I really love the autobiography 'Almost French' by Sarah Turnbull. For many years I was obsessed with the idea of living in France, and I did actually end up living in Paris for a while... but this book was the ultimate inspirational memoir for me, written by another curly haired Aussie girl!
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Cathryn Chapman online

Where to buy in print


Sex, Lies, and Cruising
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 94,210. Language: English. Published: July 16, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Landing her dream job on a Caribbean cruise ship, Ellie soon discovers the truth about the exotic locations, sexy men, and crazy crew parties. Described as 'Bridget Jones' Diary meets Sex and the City, on board The Love Boat'.

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