Interview: Cathy Perkins

Please welcome Cathy Perkins, author of The Professor and Honor Code.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
This question made me laugh. Do you remember the pageant Q&A with Miss Rhode Island in Miss Congeniality? …a day in April…a light jacket…She was so good in that role.

I do love a shonorcodeunny day at our place in the mountains—getting outside with friends, family and the dogs. Then the evenings are cool enough for a fire, good food, and laughter. Good times.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Not really.  I like so many different things; it’s no fun to stick to just one!

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Hmm, every book I’ve ever read (and that’s in the thousands) probably isn’t a good answer. Three people who’ve had a direct impact on my writing career are:

Renee Rearden–fantastic urban fantasy author and the world’s best critique partner

Steve Vassey–South Carolina Writer’s Workshop local chapter head and the guy who encouraged me when I first inched out and showed someone my first story.

Jenny Crusie–Fabulous author and teacher at my first Lowcountry Masterclass. I think my head nearly exploded that week!

Do you listen to music when you write? 
I’m happiest when listening to music. I love it all–classical to pop; country to jazz.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Oh definitely dark chocolate; maybe with some sea salt or chili pepper for texture and a kick!

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
My muse delivered Honor Code nearly intact (ask any author–believe me, it’s a gift when that happens!). Apparently the story rolled around in my subconscious for a while, pulling characters and themes together. The story is a mystery–what happened to George Beason–but it delves into family relationships and how individual actions affect not just the person who does them, but those around them as well. Ultimately our personal choices–our code of honor–determines who and what we are.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
My tag line sums up my recurring themes–Mystery with a Financial Twist; Trust Issues; Family Bonds.

The financial part wasn’t in The Professor (although the family aspect was there!) Honor Code has all of these elements, as do the two stories that will release later this year: For Love or Money (May) and Cypher (fall 2013).

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Like so many young men and women, Detective Larry Robbins used the military as a way out of his small hometown. He ended up an MP and to his surprise, he was good at it. The college opportunity the military provides helped him get a degree in criminal justice. Years of police work has left him jaded–maybe even cynical–but he’s never lost his capacity for compassion. Police see people at their worst, but Robbins also saw people like Miz Rose who have good hearts and act from love. Robbins strives to maintain a balance in his life, but like most of us, some days he’s more successful than others.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Part of me wants to give you six wonderful women (wonderful newer authors) I’ve met over the past few years at conferences and retreats, but I’m going to take a different direction.

John Sandford and Lee Child to guarantee a fast paced adventure

Jonathon King for introspection

Margaret Maron to add the family connection

Toni McGee Causey for a touch of crazy to keep things fun

And John le Carre as the political mastermind who pulls the strings behind the scenes

What’s next for you?
After several dark stories, I moved to the lighter end of the mystery spectrum with For Love or Money, releasing in May with Entangled Publishing. Written from Holly Price’s perspective, the mystery romps through eastern Washington State with its rivers, wineries, Native American casinos, and assorted farm animals. The relationship, with some wicked fun chemistry between our CPA amateur sleuth and a Franklin County detective, is a bigger part of the story. For Love or Money was huge fun to write and the advance reviews say readers like it! Stay tuned for more.


Cathy Perkins is a member of the Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters’ lives. Her suspense writing lurks behind a financial day-job, where she learned firsthand the camouflaged, hide in plain sight, skills employed by her villains.   Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for Honor Code and The Professor, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, a 75-pound Lab who thinks she’s still a lap-dog and a German Wirehair puppy.





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10 thoughts on “Interview: Cathy Perkins”

  1. Hi Cathy–Your books sound like a lot of fun. I know what you mean about your head exploding in a masterclass!
    Did I see South Carolina? I’m an old tarheel in Colorado now. Washington–state or district? I love and miss Seattle.


  2. Thanks for letting me visit today!
    Theresa – I grew up in South Carolina but we really like living in Washington State. So much to do in and around Seattle and we love our place up in the Cascades. Thanks for stopping by today


  3. Wow…what was it like when Honor Code appeared intact? Was it like a vision? And did it make writing the other ones more difficult in comparison (or more exciting because they were surprising)?

    Would love to hear more about that. 🙂


  4. Cathy, your production schedule sounds pretty intense! Is it hard to fluctuate from darker themes to lighter? Also–I’m a complete math ignoramus. Would someone like me be able to read your mysteries without getting confused?


  5. Hi Cynthia
    Well, it wasn’t exactly a vision, but the epilogue (which I love) was just there in my head when I woke up one morning. I scrambled to write it down before I even climbed out of bed. 🙂
    Mostly, it was when I started writing it, I felt I already knew the characters. I could hear Miz Rose talking in my head, like an old friend, and it gave me the rhythms and patterns of her speech. The twists and turns of the plot came together in one brainstorming session with my critique partner and the scenes flowed straight out of wherever they were fermenting!
    It didn’t make the story I just finished and turned in to my editor harder, just different.
    Thanks for asking!


  6. Hi Donna,
    It’s funny, but after my years of learning the craft, once I sold, things seemed to come together, opportunities appeared, and it definitely made for an intense year (nice problem to have, I know 🙂 )
    Everyone is different, but for me, writing the lighter stories is a relief when the others take you dark places. And no, no math skills required!
    When the plot moves through a financial element, I always test the scene and explanation on people with no connection to my industry to make sure they are clear and understandable. My hubby loved that I had the heroine explain Due Diligence to a staff member by equating buying a ‘used company’ to buying a used car, an experience he could relate to.
    A lot of the story focuses on the relationships and why people are doing whatever they’re doing instead of bogging down in the details that would bore anyone who wasn’t a financial geek like me 😉 so no worries!


  7. Wow–thanks for elaborating, Cathy! I am glad you wrote the epilogue down before doing anything else (those fragile wisps of dreamworld float away so easily). It sounds as though this story really wanted you to tell it. Very cool.


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