Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, Love Lie Repeat, is Catherine Greer.
Catherine Greer lives in Sydney with her husband and two teenage sons. Catherine started her career as an English teacher at a private high school on Vancouver Island, Canada. After she immigrated to Australia, she built a freelance copywriting business. When she isn’t writing YA novels and other books for children, she runs a happiness blog, focusing on positive psychology. Catherine was a collaborating author with Stephanie Dowrick on Choosing Happiness (Allen & Unwin), and her debut picture book, Jacaranda Snow, will be published by Wombat Books.
Hello Catherine. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. Thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
I love Earl Grey (no milk!) and I’m a compulsive baker…so I love any sweet treats! My favourite is probably my dark chocolate cake – the recipe is on my happiness blog – and one of my characters in Love Lie Repeat bakes this cake, too! It’s delicious.
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
I love writing fiction, but I also write non-fiction. I have a happiness blog and I published a growth mindset picture book, Jacaranda Snow, in 2018 (Wombat Books). I collaborated on a non-fiction book called Choosing Happiness (Allen & Unwin, 2006). Love Lie Repeat is my third published book.
Love Lie Repeat has just been released. Can you describe it in just a sentence?
It’s a book about the pressure women feel to be perfect; it’s about guilt and power and why we hurt the people we love.
What came first in the creation of the novel – the title, plot, characters or setting when you first set out to write Love Lie Repeat?
That’s a great question! The genesis is actually quite interesting. A publisher had asked me if I had a new manuscript. I walked by my bulletin board and saw a copy of Margaret Atwood’s poem, “Siren Song.” I thought to myself, there’s a novel in this poem. I began to think about who the speaker in the poem would be, and I came up with Annie Sharpe.
What ingredients do you feel are necessary to compose a successful domestic noir based narrative?
I think you have to identify with your characters and be intrigued by why people hide the truth. I understood Annie – how she was damaged and beautiful and so very, very sad. I knew some readers wouldn’t like her, but I loved her because I saw her motivations. I also identify with the upper north shore Sydney mothers in the novel; they’re doing the best they can, even when their best is terrible.
How long did it take you to write Love Lie Repeat?
I wrote the first draft in 16 weeks, writing full time, five days a week. I’ve had a lot of practice at writing quickly because I’ve had a long career as a copywriter! My first drafts are fairly complete, and I have a process that I teach in my online writing class (for any beginner writers who are interested.) The structural editing, however, took several months. Penguin publishers were so helpful and made the final version of the novel truly shine.
Is there a particular scene in Love Lie Repeat that you are proud of?
So many! I love the tattoo scene, and also the hospital scene where Annie gives her Dad’s girlfriend a horrible, heavy sterling silver baby rattle from Tiffany. So many readers have told me they love the turnaround scene between Annie and her mother, where Annie realises that her mother is lonely and they decide to go out to a Vietnamese restaurant. Young readers love that scene, I think, because it shows a teen seeing through her mother’s façade.
Where did the inspiration for your characters come from?
Well, the name for Annie came to me in a Ladies’ room! A beautiful young girl walked in, looked straight at me and said, ‘Hi, I’m Annie.’ Everything about her – her beauty, her power, her Doc Marten boots with flowers on them, her black tights, her denim skirt – said ‘I’m here! I’m strong! Listen to me!’
And as much as this is hard to admit, The Mothers are based on me, my reactions, how parenting sometimes feels to me living in the upper north shore of Sydney. I’ve changed and grown as a mother, of course, but it’s been a journey.
Can you tell us more about the Australian setting featured in Love Lie Repeat?
I’m a dual citizen; I immigrated from Canada to Australia twenty years ago. I think this makes me see and appreciate the beauty of Australia so clearly. The gum trees, the bush, the cicadas, the jasmine – all of it I notice and love. I tried to express my love and gratitude for this country in my novel.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Love Lie Repeat?
I hope readers will see that not every literary character needs to be an underdog in order to be loved and understood. I wanted to present powerful girls and women – maybe even mean girls and women – and explain why they are the way they are, and how their lives are painful, and far from perfect. I think, often, we’re very quick to judge beautiful women as superficial, but I believe everyone’s life holds both beauty and pain. I wanted to tell the other story: the story of power and sadness, not the story of the underdog who turns her life around. It was a risk. I hope readers understand it.
What writers have inspired you along the way to publication?
Definitely Margaret Atwood and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I wrote my Master’s thesis on women in the stories of Fitzgerald, and I never get tired of re-reading his work. I also love the sparseness of Hemingway’s prose, and I try to write with his Iceberg theory in mind: that the deeper meaning of the story should not be obvious on the surface, but that it should shine through implicitly. My writing is pacey; some readers love it and some find it abrupt.
Can you tell us more about more about your happiness blog?
Yes! I love my readers around the world – in Canada, America and Australia, mainly. I blog every Sunday about what I’ve learned that week: a mix of optimism, happiness tips, recipes, relationships, parenthood, what I do for fun. It’s my passion project. I love sharing ideas with my readers.
What is next on the horizon for Catherine Greer? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I’ve written another novel that’s with my publisher now. It’s about sisters – what happens when everything you want belongs to your sister? And I’m working on a non-fiction book that’s related to my blog.
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
I read every single night before bed. I always have! I’m truly excited to read Jaclyn Moriarty’s first adult novel, Gravity Is The Thing. I love love love Jaclyn’s books. And I just finished Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers and enjoyed it, but that’s a Spring 2018 release. (I’m shy to admit this but it’s been a total honour to see a few Instagram reviewers call me the ‘Liane Moriarty of YA books.’ What a dream! Maybe my book feels a little like Liane’s because we live two suburbs apart and write about the upper north shore?)
If you could slip back in time, what era would you travel to and why?
Canada in the 1800s, to see how the Metis First Nations people lived. I grew up on a farm with tepee circles, buffalo jumps, and arrowheads. We found so many relics of the past that intrigued me.
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
I’d like to meet you, Mrs B! Thank you for the virtual invitation.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Catherine. Congratulations on the upcoming publication of Love Lie Repeat!
Three girls, loyal to each other? That never happens. All the groups of three implode eventually. Two in, one out. Change. Betrayal. Again and again.
But not us. I make sure of it. I make Ash and Ruby see that our power is in our three-ness. We can do what no other trio can.
Together, we’re strong.
Thick, thin, boys, mothers, divorce, other girls, secrets, lies, all of it.
I’ll keep us safe. Whatever it takes.
Intoxicating and intense, lush and chilling, LOVE LIE REPEAT is the unmissable debut novel from Catherine Greer.
Love Lie Repeat by Catherine Greer is published on March 5th 2019 by Penguin Books Australia, details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Catherine here: