Saturday Spotlight: Interview with Cathy Mansell


Our guest today is Cathy Mansell, writer of romantic suspense novels set mainly in the nineteenth century Ireland and England. Cathy was born and brought up in Ireland and now lives in Leicestershire.  I met her at the Romantic Novelists’ Association winter party, and her bubbly enthusiasm for her writing made quite an impression on me so I invited her along to tell us more.

Welcome to our blog, Cathy.  I believe you had written more than one book before you were published.  Was that always the plan or did you approach publishers with your first book?

Shadow-Across-The-Liffey-by-Cathy-Mansell-500-200x300Yes, that is true.  I had three books written and was writing my fourth before I got lucky. By this time, I was desperate to see my books published and hold one in my hand. I had done the rounds many times, for years, in fact, with the first two books, ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ and ‘Her Father’s Daughter’, without success. Strangely enough, it was my third book, ‘Shadow Across the Liffey’, that was picked up first.

I understand you were a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme until ‘Shadow Across the Liffey’ was published.  What advice do you have for new writers joining the NWS now?

I love the RNA. The help and support I received over the years from the New Writers’ Scheme has been priceless. We’re so lucky to have this level of support for new writers. Encouragement and friendships have developed through being a member of this brilliant group.

How has your Irish heritage influenced your writing?  Does setting your stories in Ireland mean you get to go back there often?

Yes, I think being Irish and writing Irish books is my advantage. When I was writing ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’, I visitedHer-Fathers-Daughter-by-Cathy-Mansell-500-200x300 Ireland for research. ‘Her Father’s Daughter’, set mainly in Cork city, took me to Cork four times.  It was lovely to get to know the city and the people.  But I don’t need an excuse to take a flight across the sea. I’m very fond of Ireland in spite of having lived in Leicestershire for over forty years

How much do you research the historical settings of your novel?

The historical part of ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ came partly from family stories, history remembered from my school days and having once had a family member who lived in America. I do love the research part of writing and find I always learn something new that can be unexpected and exciting.

We’ve seen your books described both as romantic suspense and family sagas.  Which of those do you think best applies to your books, or are they a mixture of both?

Where_the_Shamrocks_Grow_by_Cathy_Mansell_-_200I see myself as a romantic suspense writer but sometimes the books are put into a niche that says they are sagas. Having said that, I think ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ could be classed as a saga, more so than my other three books.  I’d like to be known as a romantic suspense writer because I always have an undesirable character lurking in there somewhere.

Some of us might like to try our hand at writing romantic suspense in the future. Can you give us any advice on writing in that genre?

I think the suspense part of the novel gives the romantic side of the story an added dimension, and I would always advise anyone writing romantic suspense to make sure they have a realistic sinister character. Important not to let them take over from your main heroine or hero.

Do you have favourite times of the day when you feel the most creative?  How do you organise your writing time so that you achieve all your goals and deadlines?

Early morning is my time and again late at night. I get a lot of interruptions during the day. I’m on the internet morning and evening blogging and promoting my books. I’ve not had any major deadlines yet, but I usually try to give a certain amount of time to each project I’m doing, and keep going back to it until I’ve finished.

When you’re planning a new book, which comes first, the characters or the story?

The title comes into my head first, and then the character. I know, most authors don’t choose a title until the book is Galway-Girlfinished.  I work the story and the characters around a working title. It keeps me on track

Could you tell what you’re working on at the moment and what your writing ambitions are for the coming year?

I’m writing a new romantic suspense set in Dublin and Birmingham around the 60s. I have a strong heroine who has troubles from the word go. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another publication in late 2015, and have been contracted by Magna large print for all four books for library and audio in 2015. I’m a happy lady.

Thank you for asking me to feature on The Write Romantics’ blog. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.

It’s been a pleasure, Cathy.  Best of luck with your 60s book, and I’m looking forward to seeing you again at this year’s RNA events.


You can find out more about Cathy and get in touch with her through her website

If you’d like to leave a comment, please click where it says ‘leave a comment’ or ‘comments’ in tiny little writing at the bottom of this post.  



24 thoughts on “Saturday Spotlight: Interview with Cathy Mansell

  1. Shadow Across the Liffey was the first book of Cathy’s books that I read, and I just loved it – the characters, settings, era.
    Romantic suspense is certainly her forte.
    Really looking forward to the 60s one!

  2. Lovely to have you on the blog, Cathy.
    I am currently reading a book with an Irish setting (one of Adrienne Vaughan’s actually) and I find I really enjoy reading about Ireland and its people. There’s such a warmth to the place and I love the characters. Maybe it’s my Irish ancestry. What a great excuse you have to pop back to Ireland regularly!
    I absolutely love the covers of your books, especially Galway Girl. I was interested to read that you came up with the titles of your books first as I find titles really difficult and I’m always impressed with writers who come up with them easily.
    Really nice to read about you and your books and I hope your plans for a new publication this year work out.

    • Hello Sharon. Much appreciate you finding time to comment. Thanks for reading my interview with Deirdre. Adrienne’s books are wonderful stories and her characters are drop dead gorgeous.
      Thanks again for your nice comments. I love it here. X

  3. Another really good interview adding some insight into Cathy ‘s writing. Really enjoyed all the books from this author.
    I’m also looking forward to the 60’s novel and I’m hoping it’s out for my holiday. Would highly recommend Cathy’s books.

  4. Enjoyed reading your blog interview, very inspirational. Love all your characters and story telling in these hard to put down novels. Can’t wait for the next release.

  5. I’d definitely have had ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ pegged as a saga. It’s the only one I’ve read so far, Cathy (although my kindle is loaded and waiting) and I loved it, as you know. It’s wonderful too to read about your success. Congratulations btw on your Magna deal.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the RNA and the NWS. The help is amazing and the pleasure of meeting far flung friends when we come together at events in priceless.

  6. Interesting blog post, Cathy. Like you, it was the NWS of the RNA that set me on the road to publication last year. I’ve read and enjoyed Shadow an have others on my Kindle TBR list. Good luck with your 60s story!

  7. Smashing blog, Cathy! I really enjoyed reading about the background to your books (though I’ve only read ‘Shadow Across The Liffey’ at the moment (hangs head in shame!). I totally agree with what you said about the NWS and the RNA, they’ve helped me enormously. And you have always been a great encouragement to me personally – so thanks again.

  8. Such an interesting interview and interesting to see the title comes first – especially as I struggle with titles! I read and loved Shadow Over The Liffey and am looking to reading more.
    Lilian B x

  9. Hi Cathy, great interview. Thanks for joining us. Interestingly enough, I come up with titles first too and they inspire what the story is all about. I’ve not met anyone else who does that so it’s great to know you do it too! Good luck with your continued success.

    • Hello Jessica lovely to meet you and thanks for commenting and for the good luck.
      When I have a title in my head, it keeps me grounded as to what I want the story to revolve around. It appears to work for me, glad it goes for you too. X

  10. Love your books, Cathy – because I love Ireland. I’m not Irish but, like you, I go across there as often as I can, especially to Galway and Connemara, and I relive my memories when I’m writing my novels set in Ireland! Best wishes for your future writing career.

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