Young Adult Author and Former Educator Describes Her Gripping Tale

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Cat-astrophic by Sue Dugan

How much does Nick have in common with Cat, his strange new classmate? A surprising amount, as it turns out. They’re both juniors at Laketon High School, they’re in the same history class and they both know each other from a past life.

In her Young Adult novel Cat-strophic (Wild Rose Press), Sue Dugan interweaves a story of two timelines and how the events of the past continue to reverberate today — sometimes in unexpected ways. Protagonist Nick DuPont must balance his modern high school life with flashbacks from his time in WWII-era France with his star-crossed lover, Chaton. In our author interview below, Dugan reveals what inspired this story of two lifetimes, as well as how she keeps her momentum for continuing Nick and Cat’s story.

Q: Cat-astrophic has quite the intriguing set-up. How did you come up with this unique idea of a character’s present and past lives colliding?

A: The idea came from something I read online about a little boy who told his parents he had once been a WWII soldier in France.

The story started with a reincarnated soldier and continued when I remembered the English proverb, ‘A cat has nine lives. For three, he plays. For three, he strays and for the last three, he stays.’ So couple ‘the cat with nine lives’ and a former student whose initials were C.A.T. and Cat-astrophic began to become a story and then a series.

The plot was fleshed out further by adding a girlfriend and a father who is a minister and doesn’t believe in reincarnation.

Q: This isn’t your first foray into the world of Young Adult fiction. What draws you to the genre?

A: As a former high school teacher and principal, I was always fascinated with my students’ stories. I was an excellent eavesdropper and remembered situations that occurred while working in the high school setting. Although it has been some time since I was in high school, the concerns were essentially the same: fitting in, boy/girl relationships, popularity, grades and he said/she said scenario.

Q: While partially set in modern-day, Cat-astrophic also features scenes from World War II. What inspired you to put part of your story in this era of history?

A: I decided on World War II because of the story I read on the internet, and as I began to research the war in France, I learned of the internment camp and the student soldiers who held off the Nazis for two days.

Q: How would you describe your writing process?

A: Slow and steady wins the race. I write something every day. Not everything is good and has to be heavily edited, but I don’t get ‘stuck’ if I keep a forward trajectory with my novel.

Q: Would you say you have a favorite scene, or perhaps a favorite character, from Cat-astrophic?

A: Cat fascinated me with her otherworldly facade and her troubled backstory. I enjoyed writing about the boys fighting the Nazis because it was based on historical events.

Q: What’s next for Nick and Cat?

A: In book 2 (Cat-atonic), Nick is on his own as Cat has moved back to Oregon for her parents’ work. Nick and his former girlfriend patch things up and reunite. He’s having trouble reconciling reincarnation. His therapist suggests he has Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Book 3 (Tom-Cat) is about Cat’s time away from Nick in Oregon. The plot reveals more about her backstory in Roseview, Oregon, including accusations she killed a rival dance team member.

Book 4 (Cat-apult) will be about the night the dance team member went missing and was eventually found dead.

Book 5 (Cat-echism) will have Nick and Cat back together again in Laketon, where Nick is accused of Cat’s attempted murder.

I’m not sure where the wheel of fortune will stop for Nick and Cat. The series could contain nine books, ‘the nine lives of a cat.’

Sue C. Dugan is a Michigander transplanted in Nevada. She has one foot in her Midwest roots and another in her adopted Western State. The two locals have served her well, and she has used them both in her work. She has two children, five grandchildren and two writing partners who wag their tails and bark.

She has been asked if she’s a reincarnated person. And if so, who would she want to be? As a writer, she is fascinated with the greats and their impact on American literature: Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Steinbeck. As a woman, she admired Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana.

When she’s not with her family or writing, editing or reading, she enjoys long walks with her writing partners by the golf course. Check out her website here.

Cat-astrophic by Sue Dugan

Publish Date: February 15, 2023

Genre: Young Adult

Author: Sue Dugan

Page Count: 318 pages

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

ISBN: 9781509247547

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