Cate Styer

1) Tell us a bit about the pieces you have in Motherly Musings. What was the inspiration for your work, and do you have any comments or thoughts about your featured work that you would like to share with readers?

First Night was inspired by the birth of my first son, Henry. At the time, I was struck by the contrast between the momentousness of the event to me and to him, and its ordinariness to those around us working in the hospital. I continue to find the mystery at the heart of motherhood — it is both the most awesome and most common of identities — of great interest, as both a historian and a fiction writer.

2) How long have you been writing and how did you get started?

I’ve been writing all my life, with an early specialization in poems about tigers and sunsets. I was lucky enough to have my literary interests humored and encouraged by those around me, and now make a living writing in various forms.

3) In general, the pieces that appear in Motherly Musings are about parenting, mothers, or children. Does this theme permeate your other writing? What other themes and ideas influence your work?

I write about a range of topics from motherhood to the early modern Atlantic world to contemporary film. My deep interest in the past, and in time, influences most of my work.

4) Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment?

I am currently finishing a book, Slaves to Empire, on the history of British enslavement in North Africa between 1600 and 1800, and playing with ideas about motherhood — often with a historical perspective—on my blog ‘Historian Mom.’

5) What is your greatest challenge as writer?

Finding time to write while being a full time mom to two small but highly energetic boys.

6) What are you reading right now?

I’m re-reading Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native. I’m currently revising my book manuscript, and immersing myself in Hardy’s masterful prose seems to improve my own.

7) Any final thoughts, advice, or comments you'd like to leave our readers with?

The best advice I ever received was to make writing a discipline rather than to wait for inspiration. I think it’s worth passing on.

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