Saturday, March 1, 2014

INTERVIEW: Skylar Cates & Cate Ashwood

Today we are talking with Skylar Cates and Cate Ashwood--together! These two phenomenal authors are collaborators who agreed to tackle my questions in tandem. Also, I've seen a LOT of great hats, but Skylar's unicorn bicycle helmet may take the cake. Catewood assures me her picture is coming ^_~

Hello Skylar and Cate and welcome to The Hat Party <3 Thank you so much for subjecting yourself to the RANDOMNESS that is a Raine O'Tierney interview! Please don your best hat, and let's get started!

(Skylar Cates!)

(Photo of Cate Aswood courtesy of Madison Parker Photography)

We'll start with a pretty basic question: How did the idea of collaborating together for Five Ways a Boy Can Break Your Heart come to be?

Cate: I messaged Skylar and asked if she would be interested. I always thought it would be fun to write with another author, and since Skylar and I seemed to have compatible writing styles, I loved her first novel, and we were already friends, she seemed like the obvious choice.

Skylar: Cate’s message came at the perfect time for me. I had submitted The Guy From Glamour, and I really needed something else to focus on. 

You both very accomplished authors, but there's ALWAYS more to do! What are your pie-in-the-sky, almost-too-embarrassed-to-say-out-loud dreams for your writing? No dream is too big!

Cate: Thank you! I would love to have one of my books translated one day. I don’t really care what language, although French would be neat and then I could read most of it (sort of).

Skylar: Thanks so much! I agree with Cate about being translated. I also would be thrilled to walk into a Barnes and Noble and see one of my books there, or I’d love to check my own book out of a library. 

Your thoughts on libraries: GO!

Cate: I absolutely love libraries. One of my favorite memories from when I was a kid was when my mom would take me to the library to borrow books. I was only allowed to take 7 at a time, and we were making the trip to and from the library so many times, my mom finally convinced me to read chapter books.

Skylar: Libraries are heavenly. I spend hours there. I’m also getting a great deal of joy out of taking my kids there. I love seeing how happy a library makes them.

Would you rather fight a horde of zombies or read your novella in front of a group of 300 people at GRL?

Cate: Horde of zombies. Without question. I would be more effective with the zombies too, because I think I would pass out if I had to read my words in front of anyone.

Skylar: I’ll take the reading. I’m the type who’d be killed in the first five minutes of the Zombie movie.  I’m not really afraid of performing. I did a lot of coffee house music/poetry  things back in the day… 

If you were to dedicate your book to someone who has no clue they changed your writing life—who would it be, and why?

Cate: Elizabeth North. She is an amazing woman and will never understand just how grateful I am to her for taking a chance on me. I admire her so very much.

Skylar: I’d echo Cate on Elizabeth. She’s awesome! I’d also pick my father. He’s gone now, but he was a big influence on my desire to write as a child.

What do you think is your strongest asset as a writer? As a collaborator?

Cate: Oh, I have no idea. Skylar? Any suggestions? Enthusiasm? Does that count? I get pretty excited about my characters and stories to the point where they kind of take over my life while I’m writing them.

Skylar: I am totally excited whenever I begin a new work. I fall hard for my characters. As a collaborator, I’d pick communication.  

What is a writing mistake you’ve made that you’ve learned and grown from?

Cate: Putting too much stock in reviews I think. I learned pretty quickly not to pay too close attention to the bad ones or it’ll undermine your confidence completely. That’s not to say I don’t read them. I will admit to reading reviews obsessively. I just try not to get too hung up on negative ones.

Skylar: Rushing to submission. It’s so tempting to send off that WIP, but I’ve learned to hold it. I am a big believer in revision. I won’t send something until I’m happy with it.

A little birdie told me more collaboration is in the works—what can we expect to see from you next?

Cate: Yes! We are working on a new novel together about a lab tech and a fallen basketball star who end up in the same small town together. We’re not too far into it—just a little past the planning stages—but so far we really love it.

Skylar: It really will be fantastic, and I’m so excited to try a full length novel with Cate!

And finally, for THE most important question of all: what kinds of dachshunds are the BEST kind of dachshunds?

Cate: The wiggly ones

Skylar: Since my first dog was a dachshund, I’ll simply say her name: Heidi. She was the best!

When Trey and Liam meet in boarding school, they couldn’t be more different. Liam is a classical violinist with a scholarship, and Trey is a punk rocker with famous parents. Despite their conflicting backgrounds, they hit it off and bond over their love of music. But after spending every waking hour together, Liam is devastated when Trey leaves school without an explanation. Worse yet, Trey capitalizes on a song they wrote together.

Seven years later, they bump into each other at a charity benefit in New York. Old sparks fly, but Liam hasn’t quite recovered from the pain Trey caused. Liam doesn’t know if any explanation Trey can offer will be enough, or if he can find it in his heart to forgive the only man he’s ever really loved.

LIAM LET his heavy backpack slide off his shoulder and to the ground with a dull thump. He kicked it to the side before flopping himself down on Trey’s bed. Loosening the knot in his tie, he leaned back against the wall, careful not to catch the corner of a NoFX poster tacked haphazardly to it.

“The next two months are going to be epic,” Trey said, sitting down at his desk and rifling through a stack of CDs on the shelf. “The summer concert, the end of the year dance, and then… sweet freedom. I’m getting out of this place, and I’m going to spend my summer watching half-naked girls tanning on the beaches of Morocco. My mother just called today with the news.”

“Yeah, that’s great,” Liam agreed, not really meaning it. He hated summer. It was too hot, and he actually liked school. He was lucky enough to be enrolled at Kingston Academy, one of the top boarding schools in the country. Without classes, there wasn’t much chance for him to play violin. Summer was for working, usually at some lousy fast food place, and worse than all of that, Trey always left.

Trey held up a handful of CDs, fanning them out so Liam could see the covers. “Which one?” he asked.

“That one,” Liam said, pointing to the Strokes CD in the middle, knowing it was Trey’s favorite.

“Great choice,” Trey said, almost proudly. He stacked the rest of the CDs back on the shelf, then opened the case and carefully removed the disc. He placed it in the CD player and pressed the lid closed. Before Trey had a chance to hit the play button, David Thomlinson and Jason Wallace came toward Trey’s room, their donkey-like laughter rolling through the open door.

Liam tried not to cringe as they neared, hoping they wouldn’t notice him there. The last thing he needed was to remind them that he and Trey were friends. His heart still stung with what he’d overheard the day before.

David and Jason had been walking toward McLeod Hall and hadn’t noticed Liam walking behind them. Liam’s ears had perked up hearing his name.

“I don’t understand why Trey bothers to hang out with Liam Montgomery,” Jason had said. 
“Liam’s such a tool and everyone knows he’s a complete charity case. His dad’s a fucking mechanic.”

“Yeah, I know. I heard the only reason he got in here was because his aunt works on the board and she pulled strings to get him funding. If I were Trey, I’d be embarrassed to be seen hanging around with him.”

Liam had hung back, ducking sideways and taking a different route to his next class. He knew he was a charity case, but still, it hurt to hear the other guys in his class talking about it. Once or twice, he’d even wondered the same thing about Trey. Trey was so perfect. Perfect skin, perfect blue eyes, and a smooth voice that could make any girl melt. Even his spiky Mohawk, which Liam knew would look silly on his own head, gave Trey a fierce sort of beauty. If there was anyone who could be said to have it all, it was Trey.

It went beyond his good looks. As the son of the president and CEO of a major tech company, he and his mom flew all over the world. He was incredibly talented, too. It had been so much simpler when they were younger. An easy friendship had begun and had continued, until recently when doubts began to creep in.

What did Liam bring to the table? Not a whole lot.

Liam’s head snapped to the side when Jason knocked on the open door.

“Hey, man,” Jason said, leaning against the frame.

Trey turned toward Jason, but his gaze was still fixed on the CD player as he answered him.

“Hey,” he replied, sounding disinterested.

“Whatcha doin’?”

“Nothing. Just hanging out.”

Jason noticed Liam sitting on Trey’s bed. He glared at him, the corner of his mouth lifting in an unattractive sneer. “With him?” he scoffed. “We’re heading to the caf if you wanted to come.”

“No thanks,” Trey said, finally looking up from the CD player. “We’re kinda busy.”

“But… I thought you said you weren’t doing anything,” Jason argued.

Liam watched as Trey’s eyes flashed with something he couldn’t quite place. Trey crossed the room and gripped the edge of his door.

“I’d rather do nothing with him, than anything with you,” Trey said. Jason scrambled to move out of the way of the closing door as Trey slammed it. Happiness blossomed in Liam’s belly at Trey’s words. He still had no idea why Trey would want to spend time with him over anyone else, but he wasn’t going to argue.

Without saying a word, Trey walked back across the room to his CD player and set the disc spinning. Liam didn’t say anything either. The understanding that they were best friends and no one else would come between them sunk into Liam’s bones. The music soon filled the tiny dorm room, cocooning them in sound.

Author Bios:

Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe.

Skylar can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, or her website:

Cate Ashwood wrote her very first story in a hot-pink binder when she was in the second grade and found her passion for writing. Her first successful foray into romance writing came five years later when she wrote her best friend, who was experiencing a case of unrequited love, her own happily ever after.
Cate’s life has taken a number of different and adventurous roads. She now lives a stone’s throw from the ocean, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and two cats. Her life is filled with family and friends, travel, and, of course, books.

Cate loves to hear from readers. You can find her at:


  1. Great interview, Raine!! (I think I'd face the horde of zombies, too)

    1. Hmm...for me, I think maybe I'd do the reading! The reading, at least, would end...but the zombies keep coming forever! I don't know, can I have more time to think about this?? ^__~ Glad you enjoyed the article, Mia!