We welcome author Catherine Friend to our Skinny Dip column this month. You may know her for her picture books The Perfect Nest and My Head is Full of Colors, or her chapter book Barn Boot Blues. You may have thought about becoming a farmer after reading Hit by a Farm, Sheepish, and The Compassionate Carnivore. Perhaps you’re a fan of her adventurous romance novels for adults, including The Copper Egg and Spark. If you haven’t read her books yet, here’s an introduction to a fine author.
The book I wish everyone would read: Yikes. It’s a long list! I love Hugh Howey’s three books Wool, Shift, and Dust. He totally transported me to the environment he created. Dauphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is a study in how we can sometimes be our own worst enemies. Marissa Meyer’s Cinder books stuck in my mind for her retelling of fairy tales with a clever modern twist. Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s memoir, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, taught me the power of slowing down and really observing life.
My philosophy: Life is just a series of decisions — they aren’t right or wrong, they just are. If you don’t like the results, then make another decision. This helps reduce my fear that I’ll make a “wrong” decision.
One habit I keep trying to break: Sugar. Seriously. How do I stop?
Proudest moment in my career: Winning a MN Book Award for The Compassionate Carnivore.
One thing no one can do better than I can: Procrastinate. If they gave awards for this, I’d have the most.
I used to dream that: 1) I could fly; 2) That I was a famous rock star; and 3) I got hit by lightning and could suddenly speak Spanish like a native. (Well, you asked!)
I never thought I would: Be an author or a farmer. Ended up being both.
My mom was right about: being tall. As a 5′10″ 13-year-old I felt incredibly self-conscious and hated being taller than almost everyone else in school except the basketball players. My mom said one day I’d appreciate every inch of my height..She was right!
I’m currently reading: Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis. Time traveling historians get stuck in dangerous situations during WWII.
My toughest lesson has been: Our bodies change without our permission.
My hero is: Currently it’s Alice Paul. Because 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote, I’ve been reading a lot about it. I was stunned at how brave Alice was, not just by standing up to angry men and a furious President Wilson, but by physically put herself on the line through arrest, prison, hunger strikes and forced feedings. I never could have done what she did.
The bravest thing I’ve ever done: Agreed to start a sheep farm with my wife. Luckily, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
If I could give you a piece of advice, it would be this: There is always room for another book on the shelf, so you might as well write the book you want to write. Don’t let all the books out there discourage you. Yours will be different.
Super talented writer. Good books from a good person.
Catherine, didn’t we meet many years ago when I was coördinating small SCBWI meetings at a local library? It’s always wonderful for me to find that a “beginning” writer went on and made it!!!
Thanks, too, for your words here about there’s always room for another book…so encouraging…Yes,
mine will be different.
Great writing advice, Catherine! And I like your philosophy as well — sometimes I’m paralyzed fearing that I’ll make the wrong decision.