Cathryn Grant’s fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines, The Shroud Quarterly Journal, and been anthologized in The Best of Every Day Fiction and You, Me & A Bit of We. Her short story, “I Was Young Once”, received an honorable mention in the 2007 Zoetrope All-story Short Fiction contest.
Her psychological suspense fiction reveals the motives and desires that lead to suburban crime. She’s the author of seven suburban noir novels, the Alexandra Mallory psychological suspense series, the Haunted Ship Trilogy, the Madison Keith Ghost Story series, and a variety of short fiction. She’s currently working on her next novel — the seventh Alexandra Mallory story. (View the complete list here.)
In my own words . . .
I’m obsessed with the why behind human behavior. In real crime, too many times, the why is left unanswered. My fiction tells the stories of ordinary people driven to commit crimes, especially homicide. You could call them why-dunnits rather than who-dunnits.
So why Suburban Noir? Even as a child, I was aware of the dark side of suburbia. I started life in a suburban town in New York and grew up in the suburbs of Silicon Valley, California. My first inkling that I had a cynical view of suburban living was my immediate and visceral disdain for station wagons and mini vans with fake wood paneling. To me, it was symbolic of the desire to pretend you’re something you’re not.
My cynicism blended with an insatiable curiosity about why people behave as they do, and grew into stories of psychological suspense and psychological horror that eventually ended up in a hybrid genre that I like to call Suburban Noir.
By the age of ten, I wanted to be a fiction writer, and I wrote my first novel – The Mystery of the Missing Mansion. I wrote for years, learning the craft, working to uncover my voice. When I discovered Ruth Rendell through her novel, The Bridesmaid, I knew I’d discovered the kind of stories I wanted to tell — novels with “subdued tones, stultifying atmosphere, and … psychological obsession” as the Library Journal said about The Bridesmaid.
A reader told me I make “the mundane menacing”. That’s exactly right, because the mundane is menacing. Think, for a minute, about nerves rubbed raw by bad drivers on a fifty minute commute, or expertly sharpened kitchen knives, or the gooey white of an undercooked egg. You’ll see what I mean.
In 2015, I began to notice a strong bent in my writing toward what I’ll call feminist fiction, for lack of a better term. Looking back, I see that all my novels have feminist themes — an elderly woman fiercely clinging to her independence (Alone On the Beach), two very different women fighting to hold their own in a male-dominated corporate world (Getting Ahead), and most recently, the character of Alexandra Mallory. She is an unapologetic feminist and sociopath — a rather unnerving blend.
I’m violently opposed to the idea that fiction should veer into becoming a political soap box, but the themes are there in all fiction, and if it’s done with subtlety and craft…as Carol Hanisch wrote decades ago, the personal is political. Through their stories — their personal lives — characters reveal their world-views.
When I’m not writing, I eavesdrop and read fiction. In the winter I curl up by the fire with a glass of wine, a bowl of popcorn, a novel, my husband, and two cats. In the summer, I do the same, without the fire. I also try to play golf without hitting my ball in the sand or the water.