Thursday, November 20, 2014

Falling for . . .

by Cathy Perkins

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “fall”?  This time of year, I still automatically go with a Currier & Ives image of a perfect New England foliage explosion. Out here in the Pacific Northwest, fall is quieter. In town, yard trees are selected for spring flowers, summer shade, and fall color. Our mountain place leans toward towering evergreens, although we can do sepia tones quite nicely. ({big sigh} – I keep planting Aspen and the deer keep eating them.)

“Fall” can conjure other images: People fall up and down the stairs, in and out of love. We choose to free-fall on carnival rides or in any number of outdoor sports. We enjoy the beauty of waterfalls and falling leaves. 

Emotional falls can be beautiful, romantic, sad, painful, and exciting—or “d” all the above. Those emotional triggers seem fraught with so much more peril. A broken bone heals, but is a broken heart ever truly mended? What’s a writer to do? Remember the phrase going around for a while? Want to write? Open a vein and bleed onto the page. That’s emotional vulnerability. 

Where are you with your next manuscript? You know, the one AFTER you sell your debut, where all of a sudden the pressures and expectations are different? Are you falling down or is everything falling into place? 

I find with each novel I write that I’m stretching and growing as an author. In my current WIP, I’m struggling to knock my protagonist down emotionally. I’m taking bigger risks, digging deeper into the character. And in digging deeper, I’m risking revealing more of myself as I tap into my own emotional reserves. 

In order to entice my readers to fall in love with my character, to follow him along and through his internal and external journeys, my character has to not just face down challenges, he has to fail—and fail big, falling flat on his face. He has to hit rock bottom and leave the reader wondering if he can get back up. As I push myself as a writer, I’m pushing this character to peel back layers, figure out what he really wants, and go for it, even if at times he’s hanging by his fingertips over a chasm that will kill him if he falls. 

What about you? Fall/falling–love it or hate it? Are you taking risks—as an author or personally?

When a hitman kills the wrong person, a Greenville, SC detective confronts hidden agendas and conflicting motives in a powerful local family, while trying to control his attraction to the intended victim—a woman who should be dead, but instead is hell-bent on saving the remnants of her family.  

Unwilling to stand by while her family and world are destroyed, she rips apart the secrets surrounding Cypher, the company her father built—and will take any measures to defend.

An award-winning author, Cathy Perkins works in the financial industry, where she's observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters' lives. A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, handles the blog and social media for the ITW Debut Authors, and coordinated for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for CYPHER, HONOR CODE and THE PROFESSOR, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd. 

Visit her at:; twitter: @cperkinswrites; and on her website:

1 comment:

Jenny Milchman said...

Good for you, Cathy. That's what keeps us fresh--keeps us really IN this game.

I am facing something of a risk myself. There could be something really wretched that happens--kind of along the lines of what you were saying--just terrible, or it could go a slightly happier way. But that way might be a little Disnified.

Do I take the risk? The plunge, as you say? How do we decide what's right, or is the real lesson maybe that there is no 'right' at all?

Thanks for the post...