Interview with Cate Cavanagh, author of HER GODMOTHER

Cate Cavanagh is a published author, GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, as well as a syndicated columnist in the spiritual and metaphysical genres. In addition she is a published print columnist in New York and was political commentator for WJFF radio in New York and podcast commentator for. Her work also appears in a number of new age publications including but not limited to Self Growth, Lightsource, E Spirit, Grannymoon, Witch's Voice and Pagazine. She also writes for Circle of Stars a New Age ezine and is an eclectic Witch.

You can visit her website at or her blog at

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Cate. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been writing?

I began dashing the pen fantastic when I was about nine years old. I won second place in a citywide essay contest which was a major feat since it was New York City and the competition numbered in the millions. I know I got hooked at that moment. Although my family was poor and I lived in a poor neighborhood, a neighboring district built a new junior high school which was very progressive and I and some of my friends were accepted into this school based on academic achievement. This school was great! It really emphasized creativity. At the time to have a school have so many extra programs in drama and writing was extremely rare. Courses such as these really sparked my creative streak. I won medals in drama and writing upon graduation which also helped me sustain a belief in myself as a writer. I distinctly remember that all through school and college while other students cringed at tests having essays or being all essays I would always be thrilled because there was no subject I could not write my way around!

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I am very proud of my new book, Her Godmother. In this story Allie's father is an alcoholic. As a result her mother chooses to leave him and begin a new life with Allie upstate. As her mother is preparing for relocation she sends Allie to upstate New York to stay with her godmother, Brigid. My dad was an alcoholic and it has only been in very years that I have been comfortable with admitting that. The scars and codependent responsibility of keep "the secret" runs very deep which I have only begun to share. Her Godmother was written to address this illness and how it impacts on families and children. Although it is classified as a children's book, it is not "written down". I am very proud of the skill with which I wrote it. It is simple enough for children to understand and flowing enough for adults to enjoy as well, especially adults who, like me, are adult children of alcoholics.

Over my life time an emerging spirituality became my healer. My spiritual path was of non-traditional beliefs which led me to Wicca and Witchcraft. I jokingly call myself a born again Pagan. These beliefs are not evil but gentle in origin. They also opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed in which there is everyday magic around us all the time which can help heal our wounds. I wanted to demonstrate how allowing oneself to see the magic makes life an enchantment in which one can handle anything. Magic is around us and by opening ourselves to it we grow beyond whatever pain we are experiencing and into a wiser, guiltless way of moving forward.

What kind of research was involved in writing "Her Godmother"?

Of course I was very familiar with Alcoholics Antonymous principles which play a very important part in Allie's healing. As for the impact on Allie herself I drew on my own childhood experiences and emotional reactions to lend authenticity to the story.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I had quite a bit of input into the cover. My publisher was wonderful and understood fully the mystery I wanted to cover to elicit. The result is a marvelous cover we are both very proud of.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

What has been bumpy for me is finding the time to write over the years. Life can be challenging and, as I often say, gets in the way of the stuff our dreams are made of and in my case I had to put off my writing endeavors many times and for years at a time. When I was finally able to dedicate myself more fully to writing I encountered the same frustrations we all encounter--constant rejection letters. I eventually got used to them and they stopped bothering me but it still did not change the fact that I felt I was going nowhere. Once again life got in the way so working on anything of length was not possible for quite a while. One day I remember reading an article on something political that really bothered me and I decided to write an article about the topic which was quite controversial. To my surprise, it got published. I then realized my old talent for writing essays was a way for me to possibly get back on track creatively. What surprised me even more was that every article I would send got published. This was how I eventually became a print columnist. This was extremely gratifying and since writing articles was like writing essays it was an easy way for me to hone my craft and build a portfolio. From there I got a gig as a political commentator on an NPR radio afiliate station and as a podcaster. Getting a book published however was a whole other animal. But, I was lucky in that my first book, Gifts Of The Spirit, got published only a couple of years after beginning to send queries. Unfortunately, the publisher that accepted it (PublishAmerica) turned out to be not so savory so after a couple of years I was able to make them release me from my contract. That being said, I was still able to state I was a published author which does carry respectability.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

The turnaround for Her Godmother was wonderfully fast. That is the beauty of working with a professional vanity publisher. It was only about three months.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it's necessary to have one?

I do not have an agent nor do I want one at this point in time. One has to check out every agent to avoid being scammed. For example, no agent worth his or her salt ever charges a reading fee. If you encounter an agent that wants one, that is a red flag! For another reason I am not one for reading fine print so to speak and am just not confident the "hidden" costs of representation might be more than what I would want to bargain for. When I become a J.K. Rowling, that will be another matter altogether becuase then the big guys will come to ME!

Do you plan subsequent books?

I have six books already in the works and they are different genres--poetry, creepy short stories, a re-release of Gifts Of The Spirit, a quantum metaphysics book and other novels in the formative stages.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

If I am going to blog or write articles I find I often do these early in the morning as they do not require a lot of time on my part. When writing fiction however, I like the night and when writing longer books, my muses jump start me at eleven o'clock at night until five thirty the next morning seven days a week until the first draft is done which is usually about three weeks. The odd thing is it is always the same pattern.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

Television commercials! I truly believe this is the way to sell a product, like a book.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self promotion is a must. Even if one were lucky enough to get a publicist, I feel their time is mainly vested in already existing money trains. Online I am constantly blogging, and writing articles which automatically cue my work and gets me high up on the google search. I send my queries and book cover by email to every books store in every state which will take fourteen lifetimes to be sure! LOL! With the help of Janet Elaine Smith's book, Promo Pak, I had a wonderful guideline to follow in getting myself up on free search engines all over the web! Theresa Chaze of Valkyrie Publishing produced my book trailer which is on youtube to great success. You can check her out on and Janet at

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

I stopped drooling over the big houses a long time ago. You feel inadequate when you are rejected for no reason other than someone who cannot write is overworked or because their titles are filled five years in advance. I firmly believe self publishing is respectable and for the new wave of writers who want full contol over their work is every aspect. The turnaround time from contract to publication is fast and so naturally you are in the royalty cycle a lot quicker. There are many best sellers that were originally self published. There are wonderful books out there self published by writers who know better than to fawn over the big houses....

Thank you for coming, Cate! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

My pleasure! My website is and my blog can be found on

Her Godmother is available through fine bookstores, including Barnes and Noble,, and just about every other online bookstore or choice.

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