Cathy Maxwell

After a successful stint in Naval intelligence, including a tour with the Pentagon, Cathy Maxwell proceeded to pursue writing. Now, she has over 35 published romance novels (and five anthologies) to her credit, many of them spending significant time on The New York Times and USA Today mass-market best-seller lists. Cathy released her latest novel, the third book in her Spinster Heiress series, “The Duke that I Marry” in November 2018.

Johnson County Public Library: How did you get started writing?

Cathy Maxwell: It was the simplest thing in the world, I sat down and started writing. Of course, what I was writing was the worst book known to man. Later, I attended a conference sponsored by Romance Writers of America. There I met other writers whose wisdom and advice helped me shape my voice and style.

JCPL: Why did you choose Romance? Did you start out trying to write a romantic/love story?

CM: I always knew I wanted to write a book, but until I read a Romance novel, I had no idea what to write. That book captured my imagination. I adored the adventure, the action and the fun of two people falling in love. I’ve never looked back or at any other genre.

JCPL: What is the hardest thing about writing?

CM: The first draft. Once I have the story, the characters come to life.

JCPL: Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers? Do you have any writing rituals?

CM: I set a daily goal and then stay in the chair until I meet it. The challenge is not to visit the refrigerator while I’m doing it. Yes, I’m a stress eater. Is that a ritual? I hope not! I don’t know if I’m different from other writers.

JCPL: Do you listen to music as your writing? Has a song ever inspired a story?

CM: On the first draft, I write in silence. On the succeeding drafts, I will find a song that defines the theme of my story and put it on repeat. Usually that song appears in my life. Once I was in a dressing room when I heard “Come to Me” by the Goo Goo Dolls. I slapped my clothes on as fast as I could and began accosting sales clerks for the name of the song. I was not the customer of the day, but I guarantee they will never forget me.

JCPL: How do you come up with ideas for your characters and how do you develop the characters throughout your books?

CM: I was a theater major in college so I enjoy working on character. Once I have a basic idea, I keep tweaking the character the same way a clay artist keeps stroking and pinching to create exactly the form she wants.

JCPL: What romantic advice would you take from one of your characters?

CM: To be bold in life as well as romance. Most of my heroines are not looking for marriage. They just want to live life fully, even when they aren’t certain what that looks like.

JCPL: Do you have a novel in mind that you haven’t finished yet?

CM: I’m always thinking of the next book. It lingers at the edge of my conscious, waiting.

JCPL: If someone hasn’t read any of your books before where would you suggest they start? Do you have a favorite series?

CM: My fave heroine is Phadra Abbott in “Treasured Vows.” I adore her toe rings, scarves and desire to be seen. “Treasured Vows” will be reissued this coming August. Another favorite is “Because of You.” I’m also partial to my latest series, The Spinster Heiresses.

JCPL: Did you ever think your books would be on The New York Times best-seller list?

CM: I never thought I would see a book on the NYT list. Back when I first started writing, the NYT ignored Romance until Nora Roberts sold so many books they had to pay attention. Who knows what the future holds? I’m excited for Julia Quinn and others for the Netflix deals. I like the Hallmark movies. It is past time that Romance was shared with the public. We live in a time where content is king. There are great opportunities ahead for storytellers.

JCPL: What is your favorite time period or era to write about?

CM: Regency England. Most of the ideas that we accept such as education for women, scientific explorations and the rise of the middle class have their roots in the Regency. Plus, there are the horses, the beautiful, well-tailored clothes and tall boots.

JCPL: If you didn’t write, what would you do for a living?

CM: I would be a Zumba instructor.