Congratulations to the winner of last week’s Author Spotlight, Shirley Ashley. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.

Welcome Cathleen Armstrong, author of Last Chance Hero, to Author Spotlight! Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win a copy of Catherine’s latest release.

Cathleen ArmstrongTitle of your most recent book:

My most recent book is Last Chance Hero. It’s due to release in early September. I can’t wait!

Who is the book primarily for?

I think of women in the “mommimg” years when I write my books, but I’ve been so pleased at the number of women who have told me that their daughters love them as much as mom does.

What do you love to write and what inspired you to start?

I love to write about ordinary people just living their lives. I like to follow them around and see how they deal with the problems and the people they face every day.

How and where do you write?

With our family all grown, I’m fortunate enough to have an office of my own. The office I just left in the San Francisco Bay area had bookshelves built along two walls, a giant bulletin board on a third, and my desk in the middle. My new house has an office, too, but it is a work in progress. I am at my best in the morning, and when I’m under a deadline, that means 5:00 AM.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’ve always felt that church, whatever its size, is kind of like a small town—everyone knows each other and more often than not, loves each other anyway. So I’ve populated Last Chance with people I’ve known all my life in church, you know, family.

What are reading now?

I just today finished The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It was more or less based on the lives of the Grimke´ sisters, early abolitionists from Charleston, South Carolina—a marvelous book. I didn’t want to stop reading. After the last page, I kept on with the historical notes, the acknowledgements, the back cover copy—anything that would prevent me from having to put the book down.

What was the last book that kept you up all night reading?

Before The Invention of Wings, it was The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. This was the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife on an island off Australia in the 1920’s. Not only did I stay up to finish it, but I sobbed through the last three chapters. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

What fills your tank and what wears you out?

It hasn’t happened much recently, but I love the occasional day when I can just putter around the house alone, maybe read, maybe cook, maybe even sneak in a nap. Conversely, a day with too many people, too many tasks, too much going on, just drains me.

Talk about mentoring and the creative process.

I know full well that I could never have even completed a book, much less seen in published if it weren’t for the other writers I’ve who have answered questions, given advice, and offered encouragement. And I’ve also had the opportunity to encourage newer writers. That’s what makes Christian publishing so special, I think. When I hear about how cutthroat and competitive publishing can be, I know they’re not talking about the world I know.

What films do you love and would watch again and again?

Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, most of them are in black and white. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Casablanca, Rebecca. Romance, pathos, maybe a few tears at the end—my kind of movie.

What’s one of the more interesting things you’ve done in life?

Through a program at my church, I was able to help turn the backyard of a home for rescued San Francisco sex workers from a weed lot to a garden. Of course, there were professionals helping them with the major physical, emotional, and spiritual issues they faced, but I loved helping to bring something beautiful into their lives.

What in your growing up years fed your desire to write?Armstrong_LastChanceHero-Cover

Reading. I’ve loved books since I knew what they were, and when I didn’t want a story to end, I just continued it in my head!

How do ideas for books or storylines or characters come to you?

My characters are a compilation of people I know, or have known. I put them in a little town in the southwest because I’m from New Mexico, and that’s what I know. Then I just follow them around and watch them interact.

How would you describe yourself as a kid, teen, young adult?

I would describe myself as a child as quiet, well-behaved, a bit dreamy. I’m always a bit surprised to find that people who knew me then—my sisters, cousins, friends—see me as more of a stand-back-and-I’ll-get-us-all-organized type. I think it was my efforts to drag them all into my fantasy world. Unfortunately, I didn’t seem to have asked their opinion first. As for young adulthood, my husband and I married while we were undergraduates, and our third and last child was born when we were 23 and 25, so young adulthood was pretty much spent trying to catch up and keep up.

What legacy would you like to leave?

I would love for my family to remember me as a woman whose life reflected the grace and love bestowed so abundantly by the God she worshipped and lived for. (I know. That’s huge! But hopefully I have a few more years to practice.)

How do you want your reader to feel after closing your book?

I want them to be a little sad that they’re leaving the characters behind, yet satisfied an content that all is well. And eager to read the next one.

What deep underlying truth do you want your reader to know?

The underlying truth is found in the name of the town: God is a God of renewal and redemption. As long as you have breath, you have another chance.

How do your readers encourage you?

My readers encourage me in so many ways. When they say that they laughed out loud, or that something made them cry, or they wish they could move to Last Chance, my heart just sings. I’ve been especially touched by those who have said they’ve seen themselves in this struggling character or that, and that the message of another chance reached them. One reader told me that she did not know that the book was a Christian novel, and almost put it down, but by the time she finished, she knew it had been written for her. That’s encouraging, wouldn’t you say? I danced for a week!

Tell us a little about your family and a typical day in your life?

Hmmm. I haven’t had a typical day since March when my husband retired and reminded me that we had always planned to move back to Southern California when he did. As I write this, in late July, I sit surrounded by boxes of books and unhung pictures, but my desk has emerged, and my computer is charged, so a typical day might soon be on the horizon. I’m not quite sure what that will entail, since I’ve never had a retired husband before, but I do know that from early morning till early afternoon, I’ll be at my desk. That much is typical.

Which form of social media, if any, do you enjoy using the most? (Blogs, twitter and facebook fan page)

I like Facebook best, I guess, but blogs and twitter sit there like gargoyles saying, “Hey. What about me.” So that’s next—once things get typical.

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Cathleen Armstrong lives in Orange County, California with her husband Ed and their corgi. Though she has been in California for many years no, her roots remain deep in New Mexico, where she grew up and much of her family still lives. She is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, One More Last Chance, At Home in Last Chance, and the newly released, Last Chance Hero.

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