Interview with Catherine Bybee
Please tell us about the fire that inspired your newest novel My Way To You.
I was taking my youngest son to his senior pictures for the school when we noticed a plume of smoke in the rearview mirror. I have lived through many fire scares in the twenty years I lived in my home. Only this time, it wouldn’t be a false alarm.
You had to evacuate your house because of the fire. How did you feel in those moments?
I was thankful my children and I escaped, and terrified that I would come home to nothing but ash and debris. I’d packed up the cars with pictures and things I felt I couldn’t replace, but had to leave one of my cars behind because the fire engine was blocking my ability to drive it away. But none of that truly mattered. I felt like all the work I had done to keep my children’s family home after my recent divorce was for nothing. That fire was going to undermine the stability I had desperately tried to preserve. In short, I was an emotional mess.
While your property suffered immense damage, thankfully your home was left standing. Did this experience change the meaning of that word for you—home?
Home is stability. It’s a base for all the things we cherish. But it’s the people who make it so. I had a conversation with my youngest son not too long ago. I asked him if he missed the home he grew up in. (I’ve since moved to San Diego and sold my property in Santa Clarita.) This is what he said, “The day we ran from the fire, I stopped caring about the house. I didn’t think it would be there when we came back.” So no, he doesn’t miss his childhood home. I was shocked to hear this since my youngest tends to hold back his feelings. I lived in that house for 21 of my 51 years of life. There were memories in every corner. But in the end, the fire and flood… and exhaustion made it easier for me to sell it and walk away. Now that I’m in a new place I’m reminded that my family and memories are always with me—and a house is wood and stone. Whether I like it or not, however… it is stability. And that was shook to its core because of the fire.
Your life changed drastically in just one day, which is something your heroine Parker experiences—twice. The first time is when her parents die. How does this one event inform the course of her life?
She has to stop thinking about herself and put others before her. She had to grow up. Trauma changes you! Period. And I needed Parker to experience that so she could realize just how strong she was.
She has to find that strength again when fire almost destroys her home. Tell us how your heroine changes during all of this.
She needed to learn to lean on others again. Her parents death took that away and made her a very controlling person. (Ahummm… that’s my own epiphany.) It’s through the course of the book, and all the other players, that she learns to open herself up to live a full life. I think she also learns to be a big sister again and not the parental figure she took on.
In what ways is Parker like you? In what ways is she different?
She learned to let go, I still can’t do that.
She fell in love… That’s not me.
She had a privileged childhood with tons of options… Not me.
Parker fought to keep her home and make it right to live in it. I fought to keep my home and make it right to sell it. After so many years and so many struggles, it just wasn’t the peaceful place it once was. And with an empty nest and no Colin there to give it meaning, I needed to let go and start new.
Excerpt: My Way To You by Catherine Bybee
Parker turned toward the sound of the male voice and brushed aside hair that had fallen out of her ponytail. The sun glared in her eyes, making it difficult to get a clear picture of the man standing on the other side of her gate.
“Hello,” she greeted him.
“Do you live here?”
Probably a neighbor, she thought to herself. They’d shown up constantly after the fire to see how close the flames had actually come to their homes. Many of them invited themselves in without knocking. That was until she paid to have someone come in and fix the broken gate and stop the trespassers.
“I would hope so,” she said, waving the pruner in her hands. “I don’t think I would take this job for actual money.” The closer she got to the gate, the better the features of the man came into focus. He stood at least three inches taller than her, no easy task when she was five nine. Broad shoulders and arms that didn’t look like they slaved in an office all day. He wore jeans. It had to be over a hundred degrees, and the man wore jeans.
And filled them out nicely, if she wasn’t too tired to notice.
Parker forced her gaze back to his face, his eyes hidden by his sunglasses; his thick brown hair wasn’t covered by a hat.
She stopped in front of him, the gate to the property a clear division. The intense set of his jaw softened slightly. “Is your, ah … husband here?”
Three years ago, in a bar … or while out with friends, she would have instantly denied a lack of a husband. Out here, with a stranger … even an attractive one standing at her front door, she wasn’t about to correct him. “Who’s asking?”
The man’s smile fell and he quickly removed his sunglasses. “I’m sorry. My name is Colin Hudson. Colin to my friends.”
“What can I do for you, Mr. Hudson?” She wasn’t about to call him by his first name.
“I work with the Public Works Department and wanted to see if you’d let me take a quick look at the wash that runs through your property.” He reached into his back pocket and removed his wallet. Out came a business card that he handed her through the bars of the iron gate.
She had to move close enough to take the card, but retreated once she had it in her fingertips.
He instantly shoved his hands in his front pockets and took a step back.
The card looked legit. Parker reminded herself that anyone with a computer could make a business card. “Does your department work on Saturdays, Mr. Hudson?”
“All the time.”
She peered beyond the gate, didn’t see a car. “Did you walk here?”
Mr. Hudson looked over his shoulder, pointed his thumb down the street. “I have a company truck. I parked around the corner.”
“Ah-huh.” She wanted to believe him. His caramel brown eyes looked kind enough. “Even Ted Bundy was good-looking,” she said loud enough for him to hear.
Parker looked up to find him staring, his mouth gaped open. “That’s a first.”
“Sorry.” Not sorry. “By-product of being a lone woman on a large piece of property with a stranger asking to come in. Business card aside, you could be anyone.”
He lifted his hands in the air. “Very wise. I hope my sister would do the same. I was just hoping to get an eye on the canyon before Monday’s meeting. But I can wait.”
She relaxed her grip on the tree pruner. “What meeting?”
“The city and county are meeting to discuss the concerns of the watershed after the fire. We’re developing a plan to preserve property during the winter. If I could take a quick look it would help.”
“You mean prevent mudslides?”
“Control mudslides,” he corrected her.
She shifted from foot to foot. “You can do that?”
“It’s a big part of our job.” He smiled, looked over her shoulder. “I can wait. I don’t want to make you uneasy.”
Parker looked back toward the house. “Tell you what. You go get your company truck and I’ll grab a snake fork and show you the wash.”
His eyes narrowed with an unasked question.
“It’s summer. Rattlesnakes are a thing,” she explained.
Yeah, she was sure. “I’ll open the gate. You can park inside.”
About the Title
Title: My Way To You
Author: Catherine Bybee
Release Date: March 10, 2020
When a wildfire nearly destroys Parker Sinclair’s family home, it’s just one more disaster to add to her mountain of stress. For the past two years, she has shouldered the responsibility of raising her younger brother and sister after their parents’ untimely deaths. Forced to leave college for a crappy job that barely pays the bills, Parker manages her family property, which consumes every aspect of her life. Now winter is coming and the forecast isn’t spreading sunshine on the dark cloud over her head. The last thing Parker needs is a mudslide destroying everything she has worked so hard to maintain.
Colin Hudson’s job as a public works supervisor is to protect Parker’s property and neighborhood from further damage. But it’s a little hard when the owner of the land is a control freak who tries to do everything herself. The hardworking, attractive young woman is far from the “hot mess” she claims to be. In fact, her tight grip of control is one of the things that attract him the most. It’s also the hardest to crack. Now Colin’s working overtime to help Parker open up her heart, trust him, and let him in.
As Parker and Colin work together to keep her home and neighborhood safe, they may be in for another disaster. Or they may just realize that sometimes it takes destruction to create something new.
About the Author
New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written thirty-four books that have collectively sold more than seven million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite series, the Weekday Brides series, the Most Likely To series, and the First Wives series. For more information on the author, visit www.catherinebybee.com.
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