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INTERVIEW: Cat Gardiner Says Music Sparks the Soul to Words

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview with Christina Boyd for the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

CHRISTINA: I first became a fan of Cat Gardiner's when author J Dawn King gifted me a stack of contemporary Austen-inspired novels. Cat's Lucky 13 and Villa Fortuna were in the box, and I read both in the same week. I've followed her social media ever since and have enjoyed watching her add different genres to her backlist.

Do you listen to music while writing? Do you make up Playlists for your books?

CAT: “Where words fail, music speaks.” This Hans Christian Andersen quote sums up how essential music is to my writing process, but I would add that music sparks the soul to words. I absolutely make YouTube playlists for each of my books but turn to music for inspiration. Whether it’s to paint a picture or capture the mood of a scene through big band or ballads in my 1940s wartime novels, but also whenever I am at a loss for words or even the emotional connection I need when writing. Two distinct situations come to mind. I needed to get in touch with deep grief, pull it to my surface in order to write it effectively. So, I sat on a lounge at the beach in North Miami wrote the scene with Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, intermezzo playing in my earbuds on loop as I wept! A more recent experience is in the second book of my latest WWII duology. Toward the end, the heroine makes a dangerous, impulsive, and selfless decision out of love and devotion. The scene builds and--like a movie soundtrack to her decision-making process--Springtime by Luke Faulkner played in the background.


Smiling blonde woman standing amongst book display
Cat Gardiner at Oxford Exchange 10th Annual Book Fair, Tampa, Florida. Photo credit: author Bria Burton

CHRISTINA: Wow, that's fascinating. I love listening to music after I write or am reading, but I think it's quite difficult to write and have any sound besides my thoughts in my head.

Why did you choose the publishing path you chose: self-publish vs. traditional?

CAT: I self-publish because I’m chicken. Rejection letters would probably destroy all the strides in confidence I gained in ten years of writing. Indie is a ton of work but allows me to take my fate in my own hands, boosting my courage and confidence.


CHRISTINA: I love that you say you self-publish because you are chicken. I think self-publishing takes all kinds of courage.

What comes first, plot, or characters?

CAT: Plot, but I’m not a plotter. I’m a storyteller. The plot bunny births first, then when I sit down to write, the characters reveal themselves, taking shape along the way.


CHRISTINA: If you could tell your 21-year-old self anything, what would you share?

CAT: I’d tell her to have more confidence in herself, that God gave her gifts, and that comparing herself to others’ successes and achievements is a useless thing. I would tell her to invest in Microsoft and not to date What’s His Name.


CHRISTINA: Ha! Indeed. If only our younger selves would listen.

What is your current project or latest release?

CAT: I’m so excited to have recently published a WWII Historical Romance duology: “Flying with the Swallows,” The Lisbon Affair and Rendezvous in Berlin. They were a long time in the works but the research was intense, especially at a time when my personal life turned upside down and sideways. I released the series into Kindle Unlimited--the first time I have done so with my books.

"Lucky 13" and "Villa Fortuna" on my bookshelves
"Lucky 13" and "Villa Fortuna" on my shelves

CHRISTINA: I love that you have written these WWII novels. I hope they are as well received as your previous work.

Which of your own novels is your favorite?

CAT: I have two favorites for different reasons. My modern, Austen-inspired Villa Fortuna was roused by my big, Italian-American Bronx family with their generational NYC Italianisms and much-loved stereotypical personalities. I wrote the book for and with my Italian-American octogenarian parents. After writing each chapter, I read it to them and we made wonderful memories, laughing through the entire writing process!


The second is my first WWII Time/Slip Romance, A Moment Forever. I believe in this story so much. It is moving and emotional, and I adore the heroine and hero who still haunt me.


CHRISTINA: Both books are so different from the other. It's a true sign of your gift as a storyteller.

What makes you get up in the morning? What do you love?

CAT: Everything has a season. In this season of my life, I get up in the morning to face a day of assisting my parents in the last years of their journey. To do what I can to make it easier and filled with joy and compassion. I spend the remaining hours with my supportive, loving husband. I am truly blessed.  


CHRISTINA: So far, what is your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

CAT: Writing itself! To continually grow in the craft and share it with others makes me so happy.  Their enjoyment is the greatest reward.

CHRISTINA: A lot of people say that they "could" write a book. The challenge is to get it out of their head onto paper or into the computer. And it's such joy when it all comes together. I get that. Thanks so much for joining my Tuesday Author Interview. I appreciate your time and honesty. Best wishes on the coming projects.



Cat Gardiner loves romance, happy endings, history, and comedy. A member of the esteemed National League of American Pen Women, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of the romance genre from Contemporary to Chick-Lit Romantic Comedy, 20th Century Historical Fiction, and Pride and Prejudice-inspired.

Apart from her husband, her greatest passion is writing Historical Fiction, WWII-era. Her debut novel in this genre, A Moment Forever, was a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award Romance Finalist. "Flying with the Swallows" WWII Historical Fiction Romance released on April 2, 2024. Between writing and WWII home front re-enacting, Cat takes her readers on a swell 1940s journey at The 1940s Experience blog and gallery You can connect with Cat via Facebook and Amazon.




I had an amazing reading experience with the Flying With Swallows duology earlier this spring. But, that could be said every time I got to read one of Cat's books. Loved the interview!

Replying to

Nice .That’s quite an endorsement!


May 28

Great interview with an amazing author, who possesses a kind and generous soul. I've read every one of her books, and highly recommend them. A Moment Forever stays with me still, and her latest duology is a definite page-turner!

Replying to

Thanks for stopping by. I totally agree. AND I just saw the duology is on sale for promotion! Tell all your friends.


May 28

Cat’s creativity is only exceeded by her kindness. Terrific interview, ladies. (I couldn’t sign in. This is Joy.)

Replying to

Thanks for stopping by, Joy. It totally agree!

I’ll look into any signing in glitches. Tech is my Achilles. Ugh.

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