Five Quick Questions With E. Catherine Tobler

I said I wasn’t done with E. Catherine Tobler‘s Watermark, and the madness continues as E. joins us for a quick chat about her latest release and more…

1) How did Watermark come to be?

I wanted to set a story somewhat local to me and loved the idea of the Rocky Mountains. What could I do in a small mountain town, I wondered. I began to look at my favorite mountain towns, and then came across mountain lakes, of which Colorado has many. They’re all so beautiful on the surface, but what might lurk beneath? This turned my mind to Loch Ness, and thus to water monsters. This led me to kelpies, and that’s when Pip was discovered. But why would a kelpie be in a Colorado mountain lake? This was the mystery to solve.

2) Pip and Finn’s story will leave readers hungry for more…and flat out hungry. What role does food play in this story?

Food plays an important role in Watermark. There is a long-standing legend that bread is protection against fairies, but I twisted that a little in this book, saying that bread is actually what helps anchor fairies in the human world. Naturally, this meant that one of our fae needed to be a baker! Food also plays a part in rituals for our fairies, as they can entice their own kind with it. There is also the notion that if a human eats fairy food, they’ll be trapped in the fairy world, losing their interest in anything but that world. Food is both attractive and repellent over the course of the book, as fairies themselves are.

3) How would you describe urban fantasy to those who have yet to dip their toes in the water of this genre?

Urban fantasy is often defined by the “urban” part, in that it takes place in a city, and that city becomes as much a character as the walking and talking characters are. I wanted my cities to be worlds, the human world and the fairy world, both at odds with each other, but each containing something the other needed. My actual city is fictional; Peak, Colorado was, however, absolutely based on Estes Park, Colorado, that beautiful small mountain town that exists quite well outside tourist seasons, and probably has an entirely secret life no one knows about.

4) Appearances aren’t everything, and in this story, there’s a lot beneath most every surface. What one tip would you give writers interested in going deeper with their characters?

To definitely remember that surface largely doesn’t matter. Certainly our first impressions of characters will be tied to what we see, but that doesn’t have to be physical appearance. “She was beautiful” are the three words I am most tired of seeing when a writer launches into a description of their female characters. You can show that beauty in another way; what is beautiful about her beyond her looks, too. “Her fingers were as a tangle of yarn over the markings when she studied star charts.” That’s beauty without saying it’s beauty.

5) What’s next?

All the things! This fall, I am starting a new book, because apparently that’s what I do in the fall (just about the time of Nanowrimo, hmm). I have new stories out, too: readers can find “Pithing Needle” in the October issue of Clarkesworld, and “Honey in the Lion” in Betwix #5 . And I’m still dreaming all the Egypt dreams, too.


Want a chance at winning a copy of your very own? There’s still time.

One thought on “Five Quick Questions With E. Catherine Tobler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s