Friday, December 27, 2013

Interview with Catt Dahman.

Full Name:
catt dahman

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
I go by catt dahman (Little letters as a trademark) but my “other” name is Melanie.
Alright, we might as well get this out of the way right out of the gate.  Why do you prefer to not have your name capitalized?
Okay.  Stay with me here.  I once worked at a YWCA as a director.  I directed a lot of good programs and all, but part of the job was also smoozing with movers and shakers of the city.  One day, I was standing on a terrace of a multi-million dollar house, drinking champagne after a lovely luncheon and was getting paid for that.  My outfit was perfect, my hair was freshly coiffed, and when I left, I went and picked up my 5 year old from kindergarten.  He kissed me and then wrinkled up his face and said, “Mommy, you are too over-stuffed.”   I paused and thought, “Yanno, I am! I am stuffed full of myself and this isn’t who I am.”  Anyway, long story a little shorter, I resigned and the little letters remind me every day to never be “over stuffed” and full of myself, but to be gracious, kind, and helpful.  I think capital letters are far too dangerous for me.  I need the humility of small letters.

Texarkana, Texas

Current hometown:
Dallas area.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Big green eyes, gothic pale, black hair.  I am a genetic throwback because my family, both sides, are all blond haired and blue eyed.  We think somewhere down my father’s line, there was someone of middle eastern origin, possibly.

Religion, if any?
Catholic convert.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
Zero superstitions, one phobia that I refuse to tell because I can’t even say the words without panicking, and no real fears of much.  I don’t like scorpions.  I used to want to be on Fear Factor because I have no fears.
So even typing out the words of your worst phobia would trigger a full-blown panic?
Big time panic attack as in breathing difficulty, heart rate very fast and serious fight or flight. It’s the only real fear.  I mean, I will hold a snake if someone tells me it’s a pet and I have let tarantulas climb on me before.  I scuba dive, so no fear of water or clausterphobia.

Do you smoke/drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I smoke. I drink rarely and if I do it’s cranberry and champagne or a bloody Mary or maybe a Midori Sour.
Girl drink drunk!
That’s funny.  I do like girl-drinks, I guess.  I don’t care for the taste of alcohol. Oh….blackberry daiquiris and margaritas with Chambord.  Yep.  I like girl-drinks!

Current occupation / Dream job:
I am a full time writer and it’s my dream job.
At what point did you decide that you could write as your primary source of income?  Was it a certain number of books or a certain monthly royalty amount or both?
Luckily, my husband has a good job and I don’t have to work, but for me, it was being able to say I contribute significantly to the house income.  At a point, I found I was making a certain amount of money and that validated my “work” as a writer.  I am not the type to dance and celebrate over a first paycheck; I am the type to read off the dollar amount and set a goal of doubling it the next month.  I was a lucky writer. I never did the “rejection letters” thing.  I had maybe…two rejections in my life?  I was just very fortunate that I was picked up so quickly.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I work 24/7 and very seldom take even a few hours off work for anything.  I have a lot to write so I have to jeep plodding along.
Well, that’s the benefit and downfall of being a full-time writer as your chosen occupation.   You don’t have a boss, and you can set your own hours, but you also don’t have anyone checking in on you to make sure that you’re meeting your deadlines.
I am really hard on myself.  I push and push and my family tells me I can take a break and it doesn’t work that way.  Our compromise is that when I am into a theme, I take them along for a research trip and we have some fun.  Dallas had a great expo for the Titanic and we went to the museum showing.  Dinosaurs: Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City have great museums; Old west is Tombstone Arizona; they love that part of my writing.  I write for ME.  I write every story I wish someone else had written so I could have read.  I write the stories I really want to enjoy.  I think some others enjoy them too!
I think that’s mostly why I write too.  I used to be happy to just kick back and read someone else’s work, because I was able to find the kind of writing I was looking for.  But after a couple decades of reading, I ran out of books, and I couldn’t find the new stuff I was looking for.  I got asked to write a book by a publisher which was my first title in print, then a bunch of invitations to participate in anthologies.  Now I’m trying to establish myself as a stand-alone author of novel-length books.  I’ve been self-publishing with moderate success so far, but I’m not against being picked up by and represented by a publisher, as long as I retain the rights to the work.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Baseball bat and guns.  My goal is to get my family away from the central outbreak and to avoid crazy people.  My friends and I have many plans and if I told them, I would have to kill everyone who read about them here.
Duly noted.

Weapon of choice:
Rifle or a .38

Do you have any special skills?

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I went to Texas A&M and have a BS/MS and studied criminal psychology.  I also minored with English and was a total grind.  I did go to some parties, but mainly, I was the one studying and working hard for my grades.  I was lucky because I could read a book or notes and had almost perfect short-term recall.  I graduated with honors.

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
Every cent.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
I have a dog named Levi, a ferret named Tassels, and four cats: Ollie, T S Elio, Murron, and Limmerfer.  Mine were all strays/rescues and such.
Those are my favorite kind of cat!  I never understood anyone that would go to the pet store to buy a cat.  Just leave a bowl of cat food out each night for a week and you’ll have plenty of new feline friends.  Or rats, or raccoons, but they can be fun too.
Cats are very cool.  They are independent and still babies at times, and really, is there anything funnier than watching a kitten stalk something?  My cats are hysterical; they pose and act tough and fluff out, trying to scare one another, and then poof…they fall off the bed.  No way to regain status after that.  Very funny.

What is your favorite animal?
Cats, bears, any animal, I adore.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
I have a ton.  I can’t abide liars, bullies, loud people, people who try to be cute or funny and attention whores.  I don’t like show-offs or those who set out to harm people or cause drama.  I don’t like the “give-me”, “entitled” people.  I don’t like silly commercials. Ok… I don’t like space-ship movies, elves, fantasy, vampires, werewolves, or most anything everyone else likes.  I’m strange.
So you don’t like Star Wars?
No.  People just look at me in disbelief but I totally hate Star Wars with a passion.  I can’t find anything redeemable about the movies and, yes, I did try to watch them but just couldn’t watch without ranting at the screen and… well… people don’t like that in theatres.  I am particularly irritated at how Carrie Fisher wore her hair.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
Love crab, lobster, any sea food.  The only food I refuse to eat is honey.  I am good with any other food and LOVE veggies a ton.  I was a vegetarian for most of my life and still don’t understand cuts of meat or get bacon.
Why do you refuse to eat honey?
Because it’s too sweet.  I don’t like sweets.  I don’t really like chocolate either or gum…candy…cake…YUK!  I like spicy, sour, savory….anything but sweet.  Honey is just an over-load and I will heave from the scent.  I didn’t eat sweets when I was growing up; we just never had them around except for sodas, so I never became accustomed.  When my son was little, I kind of raised him the same and for 5 Halloweens he only went to family and close friends and they gave him baggies of crackers, veggies, and things like that.  It was so funny.  But even now that he is a teen, he doesn’t eat many sweets.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
“Poise, Precision, Audacity.” - Ed Harris in “The Rock”

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
When my son was born.  I was told I would never have children but there he was!  I didn’t know how to hold him or change him.  I had to learn fast about babies.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
My daughter died right before she was born.  Her name was Perris Nita-Marie and it was a horrible time for everyone.  My doctor cried with me.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
When I was in college and about to be engaged because it was the thing to do and all, I happened to meet the guy of my dreams.  He was funny, sweet, smart, and a gentleman and about 6 hours from me and in college as well.  Long story short, he and I weren’t able to get everything worked out and it was very hard on us both.  Years later, I saw him twice more.  The last time, he flew in to see me and we found we were too different and had too much baggage had changed too much.  It’s called growing up.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
I don’t know. I may have.  I never dated anyone if they bored me or were not nice people so… maybe.

If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
Just one?
Well, to start with.  You can shoot for a top five if you so desire.
You must really want me to be arrested by the FBI, right?  No, seriously, five won’t help me, either.  I would like to have free reign to take care of everyone who has molested a child, beaten a child, raped, tortured, murdered, etc.  I have zero tolerance.  Oh, and anyone who has tortured animals.  People who abuse the elderly or disabled.  I can’t say I want to kill them, myself, other than the first few, but maybe toss them into a volcano all at once.  I might have a long list for the volcano, really.  I can’t abide bullies or people selling drugs to kids, armed robbers, kidnappers…those are really bad, in my view.

What do you do? How did you get started doing what you do?
I had taken a break from writing for a decade and decided to write again and was undecided.  I had an old book but it was long.  I decided to write it into a zombie series of 9 books.  About when book 5 was ready, Severed Press, the only people I was interested in, read my books and contracted me for all 9 but 4 more fish books, and then more.  At the same time, I was also writing for myself.  March 2014 will be 2 years back to writing and I already have 25 books out.   A great reviewer, Mark Woods and a business partner, TL Decay (Trevor Smith) both helped me a lot as I went.
“fish books”?
Severed Press is always releasing books about killer fish.  And those books are very popular.  I wrote one about the Titanic meeting a megalodon (titan against titan) and one about bull sharks that come inland after a hurricane floods New Orleans.  Of course, with me and the way I write, The ship sinking and a huge shark is the least of everyone’s worries; I have something far more terrifying and weird ready to pounce.  And flooding, sharks, and cannibals are the very least concern of the folks in New Orleans; I wrote about something even worse.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Don’t.  I am serious.  It’s stressful, crazy and pays next to nothing and it’s not about talent but lucky breaks and knowing the right person at the right time.  I don’t wish this business on people I like.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
Give us a little history if you will.

I have 9 of the Z is for Zombie series with Severed Press and a 10th planned (zombies) with Severed Press, I also have Louisiana Saturday Night (a voo-doo shark story in New Orleans), Titanic QED (the sinking of the Titanic with a nod to H P Lovecraft), Dinosaur: 65 Million trilogy (Reality TV meets dinosaurs), and Alice in 9 Circle of Hell (Alice and friends descend into 9 circles of hell for a mission to save the world).  In addition I have Time of Grace (Supernatural 1957 thriller), Alice and Friends 9 Cannibalistic family traditions), Helen of Troy: Vampire, Red Man (time travel/thriller), Smooth (zombies) Z-Poc Young Brains (Zombies), Z-Poc The Lodge (zombies), and a handful of anthologies.

What projects are you working on now?
Of Blood and Water is in editing and is about a serial killing spree in a small town 1974, and the first uses of criminal profiling.  I am also writing more of the Z-Poc series, the 10th Z is for Zombie, and a time travel/Aztec history thriller. A monster in the Florida Everglades, a rat-mouse-varmint book, a little thriller that came to me from a Paul McCartney and Wings song: “Juniors Farm”

What are you watching?
Crime documentaries, The Walking Dead, Survivor, Criminal Minds.

What are you listening to?
Usually Duran Duran.

Favorite author / book?
Stephen King, Gary Jennings, Thomas Tryon, Ira Levin.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
Go back to working as a private investigator.
Do you think you’d be a good private investigator?  And if so, why?
I actually did work as one and I was both good and bad at it.  I was great in that I could play the parts undercover and I tend to think on my feet in tough situations.  In that area, some people are great.  They can turn off the act and be themselves again and shut off the world they are investigating; I was in the other percentage.  I tended to forget the real world and get sucked in too far.  I liked it but then was assigned a case to go to Dallas with a male partner and investigate a “swingers’ club.  Now, the thing was, to be believable, I was expected to be intimate with the male and then “cheat on him” or whatever you want to call it: trade partners.  Ummm. Hell No.   They intended to use my “good girl” personality to show how my fake husband was talking me into going to those clubs.  Well, I refused the assignment.  There was no way I wanted to do that.  And in all honesty, 90% is not glamorous or exciting; it’s very boring surveillance, and dirty, nasty stuff.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional. Marco Polo.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
I was a waitress, underage at 15, so I couldn’t serve alcohol, but my boss was a jerk.  He had me serve booze to him and his drunk friends, sometimes late at night.  One night, every time I served a drink, the men rubbed or patted my rear.  I ran out and went home.  I refused to return and I don’t know… I was ashamed and embarrassed and didn’t think my parents would believe me because he was a family friends… so I let my parents yell at me for quitting a job “for no reason” because I would tell them what he did.  I wish I had told.  And I wish my parents had been more perceptive.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
What do my books speak of?  They all explore elements I like to look at: Bullying, racism, family traditions, loyalty, fear, etc.  I write some pretty scary stuff and am a bit of a gore-queen.  I accept that I am shocking, but my shock is also a wake up call.  I will go to the extremes and I do it for reactions.  I actually use far less obscenities than most writers, little sex, but a lot of violence and depravity to show behavior.  I’m comfortable there.  I do have heroes of both genders, all colors and creeds, and a loveable gay man in my series.  I like showing strong women, but I write about silly women too, and stupid people of all types!  I like people… I also sneak cats into my books.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
TL Decay

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.


About the Interviewee:
catt dahman is currently with Severed Press and J Ellington Ashton Press
catt dahman has been writing for more than 30 years, has taught in public schools, private schools, and college. Her degrees are from A & M.  A native of Texas, she has lived all over the US, but is currently back in the Fort Worth, Texas area where she lives with her husband, son, 4 cats, 1 dog and a ferret.  She has also been a public speaker, director for a charity, dabbled as a PI, and more.  She now writes full time, working on horror, thrillers, and more.  She is published with Severed Press (9+ books of a zombie series: Z is for Zombie) as well as other books of horror.  Other novels are available as well.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre has probably read everything you've read and can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces Electronic Music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
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