Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine a light on Caitlin Avery, a Massachusetts author who’s traveled across the country and back. She’s published a memoir, Lightning in My Wires, about growth, spirituality, and self-discovery while living in LA, and she’s recently published her first novel, The Last Cruz, which also ties into her love of traveling, adventure, and motorcycles.
Welcome to our blog, Caitlin! For readers not yet familiar with you, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?
I grew up in Sudbury, Massachusetts. After receiving a theater degree from the University of Colorado I moved to Los Angeles where I pursued an acting career for ten years. My life-long love of writing was solidified when I chronicled my attempt to find love in LA. The result was my first book, Lightning in My Wires, and a chance encounter with a fellow Bostonian who would later become my husband. We moved back to the East Coast in 2010 after our son was born. I published Lightning in My Wires that year and got right to work on my first novel The Last Cruz.
What was the inspiration for The Last Cruz? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
The Last Cruz is about three women riding motorcycles down Baja on a vacation gone horribly wrong. An avid motorcyclist myself, I thought writing about an all-female riding group would be cool since it’s pretty unusual. The main character in The Last Cruz is a rising star in LA. When I lived there I knew a couple of successful actors and witnessed aspects of their lives that seemed annoying. Paparazzi, pushy fans, and seemingly fake friends flock to the people who make it to the top, which made me happy I never did. The Last Cruz gets pretty crazy after these women are caught in the cross hairs of the Mexican drug war. There was a recent story in the news about two young Australian guys who lost their lives at the hands of the cartel while on a surf trip. I was reading tidbits about the dangerous situation in Mexico when I started taking notes on this story in 2002. After brainstorming for 9 years I joined National Novel Writing Month in 2011 to bang out the first draft, which took five and a half weeks to finish. Four years, eight drafts, and many submissions later, I found a publisher who would bring the book to market.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
I love Cat’s sister, Sis. A no-holds-barred go-getter, she can be harsh when she speaks her mind, but her observations are right most of the time. Cat and tag-along Rey are both dissatisfied with their lives and misguided in their pursuit of happiness. But sassy Sis knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. She has her own frustrations, but is confident with who she is and stands by her convictions no matter what. I was so inspired by her that I shaved off the blond locks that had made me ‘commercial ready’ in LA, to sport a faux hawk instead, like Sis. It was my way of saying goodbye to the look that my agent had chosen for me (as seen on the cover of my memoir), in exchange for a look that felt more authentic.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I love writing about flawed characters, a practice that began with my memoir. As an actor, I learned to love every character I portrayed, even if they had troubling traits. Too many people hate their flaws. Lightning in My Wires is about how I learned to love myself unconditionally. I like to focus on what it takes for people in difficult situations to make needed changes. I’m also determined to write stories that grab the reader from the start and are easy to read. People have a difficult time prioritizing time to read these days. I want readers to devour my books over the course of a long weekend, or even a long flight. I also want to leave them with an emotional response that lingers in their mind for a while. If I can inspire someone to take a look at their own life and feel better about something they are struggling to deal with, I have done my job as a human being. If I can get them to audibly “gasp” as some point in the story, I have done my job as an entertainer.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I’m just finishing the first draft of the sequel to The Last Cruz. For readers who are shocked by the ending and wonder what the heck happens next, the answer is coming. I also had my world turned upside down after my return to New England. Life got pretty sour, so in the name of turning lemons into lemonade, I’m prepping a second memoir called Home is Where the Hard Is.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
The Last Cruz is available on SDPPublishing.com, as well as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Newtonville Books in Newton, MA has signed copies as well.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
Caitlinavery.com is a great place to start. There’s a slideshow of pictures that highlight my favorite activities outside of writing; riding my BMW F650 motorcycle, doing headstands on top of Mt. Monadnock, and other adventure shots of me with my family in California and Hawaii. For folks who want to learn more about the characters from The Last Cruz, you can click on their bios from the “Notes” page. To follow what is going on in my writing life, check out Caitlin Avery Author on Facebook.
Thank you very much for joining us, Caitlin! We look forward to having you come to our store! [A fabulous event with Caitlin is in the works, so y’all know!]