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Monday, November 12, 2012

The El by Catherine Gigante-Brown

Welcome to my blog Cathy.  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself and your book The El

Q. Tell us about your latest work—title, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?
A.  My latest work is a novel called THE EL. It is loosely based on events in my family history. I felt compelled to write it for many years and finally, took some time off from my profession as a freelance writer and did.

Q.   What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A.   I love the freedom of writing fiction, the ability to weave stories using just words and imagination.

Q.  What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A.  For THE EL, it was almost as though the story wrote itself, as though one of the characters (I'm still not sure which one) were channeling themselves through me. The words just spilled out of me. It took me only six months to write the manuscript of about 400 double-spaced typewritten pages. But it took me seven years to get it published!

Q.  Tell us about the inspiration for    what part of the book came to you first?
A.  The El was inspired by episodes in my family history. Most of the characters were modeled after people in my family. Even people I never knew--like my great grandparents (who were realized in Poppa and Bridget). Many things never happened and were entirely fictionalized but the house and most of the people were inspired by people in my family. It's very odd but the book came to me in a very linear fashion, the first chapter, the first line, and followed in order, almost like it was being communicated or channeled to me. The entire book might reflect this: it's like you're sitting down to tea with a neighbor and they're telling you this story about another neighbor, a very warm, familiar tone. (I hope!)

Q.   What kind of research was involved in writing your book?
A.   A great deal of historical research both on the Internet and in libraries since the book takes place in 1936.

Q.  You obviously did extensive research for this novel: what were some of your most useful or favorite sources that you'd recommend to others?
A.  Thank God for the Internet! Just about everything you could imagine is there. For example, I'd heard a lot about "Dish Night" from my dad, who is "Tiger" in the book, but I was able to find a story written by a gentleman describing dish night as well. There are even images of dishes that were given away on Dish Night. Google is my favorite search engine and Wikipedia is a wonderful information source. Historical sources, like the Brooklyn Navy Yard's site, had unbelievable photos, even of the construction of The Brooklyn. So my advice is to be very specific when entering a Google search. You'll be amazed at what's out there.

Q.   How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A.   At least one character in my works usually has a large part of "me" in it. For THE EL, it was Rosanna. She is loosely based on my grandmother and her plight but the more I wrote it, the more I realized that she was me and many of the horrors she experienced were ones I went through during a hurtful previous marriage.

Q.  Do you have a favorite line or scene from the book?
A.  That's a tough one but my favorite scene/chapter is probably Chapter Three, where the family gets ready for Easter dinner. The pots bubbling, conversation flowing, different people doing different chores, the lovely chaos, is something I love and so reminiscent of the holiday dinners of my childhood. And I also love the last still gives me chills.

Q.   How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A.  It's difficult but I feel drawn to writing so I often will do it early in the day, when the rest of my family is asleep. Fortunately, I have a very flexible work schedule so I am able to have stolen moments with my writing.

Q.   Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A.  I've always loved the artfulness and simplicity of John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway and more recently, John Updike.

Q.   Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A.   THE EL is a marriage of episodes in my family history and fiction. I tried to pay homage to the florid characters I heard so much about growing up, some of whom I never met. The young boy, Tiger, is based on my father, with much love.

Q.  What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A.   I am currently working on Novel # 2, which is set in the 1970s. It's called SOCIETY'S CHILD and is based on experiences I had in the "club date" business during that time period

Q.  Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A.   I'm currently employing a "media blitz" in the manner in which I've been hired to do for many artists. Getting the word out there, going to readings, contacting press outlets, local news venues, with an "angle" about my book. And that is, that Brooklyn is suddenly vogue but here's a book by a "daughter of Brooklyn" which is real and (hopefully) strikes a visceral chord with readers. I've gotten some wonderful reactions so far.

Q.  What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
A. 1. Write, write, and write
      2. Never give up
      3. Write some more

Again, thanks Cathy for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.

Good luck with your current and future publications.
For more information: 
Purchase:                at Amazon, iTunes, Nook

Read the first five chapters of The El for free on Amazon :
Please go to the comments button below in white box next to the time to interact with our Author and other readers.


  1. Dee, I can't thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to talk about THE EL and about writing in general. You have a wonderful blog! The best of luck with it.

  2. You are very welcome Cathy. Good luck!


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