Interview with author Catherine Astl



Welcome Readers to another installment of our author interview series. Today we have the pleasure of chatting with Catherine, author of multiple historical fiction books.

JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Catherine. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

CA- Thank you for having me! I appreciate this great opportunity to connect with readers.

I live in Wesley Chapel, Florida, which is a bit north of Tampa. I love to read, write, travel, and spend time with my family. On that note, my perfect day would include all these things!   

I would love to wake up early and write for a couple of hours. Then, to really start the perfect day, I would definitely be in the Smoky Mountains with my family! Packing a picnic, the family would gather, and we’d drive to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, keeping my camera handy for wildlife sightings. If we’re lucky, we will see turkey, deer, bear, and maybe even a coyote. In addition, the views are just spectacular, and I never get tired of seeing the sun move across the soft peaks.   

Later in the day, I’d love a nice dinner (anything Italian!) in a cozy cabin, and finally, playing games or reading a book on the deck or by the fireplace, depending on the weather.  

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

CA- This is tough one! I feel drawn to a few historical time periods – the Tudor era in England especially – but I always come back to the early 1800s in rural Appalachia, when mostly Scots-Irish were just beginning to settle the towns of Gatlinburg, Cades Cove, etc.  

I love imagining the moment the people set foot on the land, staked their claims, and began building cabins, corn cribs, barns, churches, schools, general stores, etc. I find that fascinating: starting from nothing and creating an entire community that was prosperous and functioning. I also love the self-sufficiency, freedom, and American spirit woven through their lives.   

This is the time period in which I write my Smoky Mountain Historical Fiction novels, and I know I’ve found my happy place in my writing. I cannot wait to write more! 

 JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

CA- Ah, you got me with this one too! So difficult to choose just one! While I’d love to go back and talk with Galileo, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, and Julius Caesar, my pick would be John Oliver, who founded Cades Cove. Since I write about him and how he created a self-sufficient, flourishing, and tight-knit community from nothing, I would ask him what he thought about his legacy, about the national park, and about living in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I know their lives were a lot of toil and hard work, but there was also a magic in the air that I truly believe they recognized. I just know, in my heart, that John Oliver, the Walker Sisters, and most residents of the peaks and valleys, felt the soul of the Smoky Mountains.

 JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

CA-My father’s side of our family is from North Carolina, and we’ve been visiting the Smoky mountains for my entire life. I’ve always felt the magic of these mountains, walking through the preserved cabins and fields of Cades Cove and other such places in the national park. As I stepped into a cabin, gazed at the long dormant hearth, I wondered how the people really lived, how they raised children, created an entire community, lived off the land, handled sickness, despair, and celebrations. And I wanted to bring their stories to life.

My mission is to honor and preserve their unique history, and I always keep in mind my reason for writing: to preserve and honor history. I truly believe we can all learn something from these brave men and women who came to Tennessee and North Carolina, staked out land, built and grew and hunted everything they needed, and created a community full of family, resilience, and perseverance.

There’s nothing like the Great Smoky Mountains and its people; I am proud that they are part of my own personal heritage, and I proudly honor their stories within my historical fiction novels. 

JMR- We are all affected by the highs and lows in our lives. How has your lived life informed your writing?

CA-I’ve been through an awful lot in my life, from life-threatening illness in my early years, to changing careers – from law to teaching, all the while pursuing my writing dreams. My lived life has informed my writing in that I got very focused, laser-focused, very early in life. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and learning the tough life lessons I did, at such an early age, forced me to do away with all the “fluff” and concentrate on what I truly wanted. It gave me a unique perspective on life due to those experiences. And, I am so very, very lucky to have a wonderful supportive family – family is everything!


JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your book? Where did you feel closest to your characters?

CA -Oh yes!! I’ve been to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park countless times; I almost feel I grew up there! We still visit the area every year, every summer, sometimes during fall, winter, and spring too. I’ve walked through John Oliver’s cabin, and the Walker Sisters’ cabin so many times, and since my books came out, they have even more meaning to me.

It is in the remnants of their cabins, barns, and outbuildings, walking on the same land as they walked, that I feel closest to them.  Imagine seeing the actual wallpaper (catalog pages and such) the Walker Sisters put up in their home?! Or looking at their hearth and cabin where they actually sat and sewed, cooked, ate, slept?! Anyone can still see this cabin; I am so thankful to the park that they preserved these special places. 

JMR- Catherine, tell us about your book, Home of the Soul; A Novel of the Walker Sisters of Little Greenbrier Cove.

CA- I absolutely LOVED writing this book. The Walker Sisters of Little Greenbrier Cove became famous when they bravely stood up to the government, fighting to keep their home and land as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was being established. When The Saturday Evening Post ran a story about their lives, Margaret Jane, Mary Elizabeth, Martha Ann, Nancy Melinda, Louisa Susan, Sarah Caroline, and Hettie Rebecca became instant celebrities as they became symbols of American freedom and self-sufficiency.

They had a hard life to be sure, but a good one, surrounded by God, family, and their beloved land. Their land wasn't just a tract, a farm, or a piece of territory to them - it was a lifestyle, their very essence.

 JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

CA-I have the following projects in the pipeline; all of which center around the lives of people and communities who once called the Great Smoky Mountains National Park home.  

a)     I am researching and outlining a book about Elkmont; some call it the Ghost Town of the Smokies. It was once a logging town, and then a resort destination – Daisytown -complete with The Wonderland Hotel, Millionaire's Row, etc.  Its history is rooted in the "Prophet of the Smokies", Levi Trentham, who has a fascinating story of his own.

b)    I am also researching and outlining a book on the history of the Cataloochee area of the park.

c)     Finally, I’m compiling stories, interviews, tidbits, and folklore about smoky mountain culture and traditions. 

d)    But there is a "special" book I am concentrating on at the moment: it’s a Christmas book, set in 1925 Cades Cove, and is all about the special traditions of Christmas. It’s tentatively titled: Christmas Serenade – A Novel of Love, Laughter, and Tradition in Cades Cove. So far, I am in LOVE with the book, and it seems to be writing itself…it's heartwarming and has a lot of history and folklore about this special time of year within fiercely independent and resilient Appalachian families. 


JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

CA-You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and on my Amazon author page. I admit that I am mostly on Facebook, as that is where most of my audience is.

·        Facebook:


·        Instagram:


·        Amazon:


JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

CA-You asked such great questions! Perhaps what am I reading now?

I am reading “Demon Copperhead”, by Barbara Kingsolver, and so far, I am loving it! It’s a whole different view of Appalachia, and an entirely different time period. I am deeply feeling the emotions of the main character, and the raw and gritty language has me hooked.


JMR- Thank you, Catherine, for stopping by. Your books look really great! Readers, I’ve included a link to Catherine’s book below. Please be sure to check it out.



























Popular Posts