Wildcat Tracks: Catherine Bakewell ’14

One of the many benefits of attending Westminster is the personal encouragement students receive from teachers. It is so important to have someone truly take an interest in what interests them, to recognize a talent that can be nurtured into a career. For novelist Catherine Bakewell, writing was something she loved from an early age. “I’ve been writing stories since I was twelve!” she said. “I have always been a voracious reader, and I have always wanted to be published.” Catherine credits her time in high school with laying the groundwork for what would later become her passion. “Westminster really helped me flourish as a writer, even from the start. I took a poetry class with Mr. Talley in eighth grade, and he encouraged me to participate in the first WCA poetry slam. I did participate in the poetry slam and was a member of the English club from eighth grade onward.”

“Mr. Talley, Dr. Gibson, Mr. Knerr, and all of my English teachers especially encouraged me in my writing and helped build my confidence. I don’t think I would be where I am today if I didn’t have so many cheerleaders back when I was just starting to find my voice as a writer.”

And keep writing she did! “My dream publisher was HarperTeen, and my first young adult book, Flowerheart, is being published by HarperTeen in March 2023!” Catherine said. This will be her second novel, the first, We Are The Song, debuted in the spring of 2022. Her story ideas come from the kind of books she has always enjoyed. Putting them down on paper started as a hobby but has turned into a job she loves doing. “When it comes to my story ideas, it’s a mix of things – I have always loved fairytales, so my stories always have a sense of magic and whimsy to them. I like to dig into my favorite things – We Are the Song reflects my love of music and the baroque era; Flowerheart shows off my love of flowers and Victorian flower language and discussions about emotions and mental health.” Catherine’s novels are geared toward middle school and young adult readers. “I write for that genre mostly because those books were so formative and impactful for me as a kid. When I come up with a story, I often ask myself, ‘What is something I needed to hear as a kid?’ and I try to write a story that shares some healing truth for those who read it.”

The writing process itself can take longer than people might think. Catherine explained that finishing a first draft takes about 4-6 months. “From there, I’ll usually do one round of edits with my literary agent. After that comes more editing! The editor at the publishing house will give me an edit letter, basically a big laundry list of things for me to fix in the book – pacing, character arcs, character motivations, world-building, etc.  After two rounds of that, there’s line editing and proofreading… so from an idea to a book on the shelf, it takes about two to two and a half years!” Catherine currently has a day job in marketing, so she writes and edits in the evenings. But her hard work is worth it. Not only has Catherine been published, she has also been accepted into the Artist-In-Residence program at Château d’Orquevaux in France. She will be a writer in residence there for a few weeks in January 2023. “This opportunity felt like such a gift from God. I’ll get to be a full-time writer for a few months in preparation for the launch of Flowerheart!”

“We Are the Song is out now wherever books are sold – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and of course, your local independent bookstore! You can get it in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook formats.  If you order a copy through Main Street Books St. Charles, I will sign and personalize your copy for you. Flowerheart releases March 14, 2023, and you can pre-order it wherever books are sold! Again, if you pre-order through Main Street Books St. Charles, I will sign and personalize your copy.”

For more information on Catherine and her novels: Instagram @catbakes or catherinebakewell.com

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