Interview & Giveaway: A Fisher of Women by Catherine Magia

Happy Monday, dear readers! Today on the blog I have the pleasure of interviewing author Catherine Magia who is currently on blog tour for A Fisher of Women!

I hope you enjoy the interview! We also have a giveaway for an eBook, so be sure to enter!

Hello Catherine and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about A Fisher of Women!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I am storyteller and a dreamer. Traveling is a lifestyle for me (I am currently working in Tokyo, Japan during this blog tour.) I am most interested in the idiosyncrasies of people. What makes individuals and where they come from special? For example, did we know that waving is the same as flashing the middle finger in South Korea? Or a mountaintop in Switzerland may have been named after Pontius Pilate? Or for a woman in Spain, going about without earrings makes her feel naked?

I am also a poet. To me, language is the source of indescribable beauty. I am Asian-American, the daughter of immigrant parents from South Vietnam. I was raised to be practical, so I have a corporate day job in a pharmaceutical company, working with cancer medicines and figuring out ways to connect the pharmaceutical industry with the patients. I specialize in helping executives and employees get in touch with the stories, dreams, and experiences of the cancer patient.

What inspired you to write The Fisherman’s Bride and A Fisher of Women?

Stories about ancient healing have always fascinated me. As I focused on the miracles of Jesus, I began to think about what that world must have really been like. It was multi-faceted, the intersection of Hippocratic medicine, biblical miracles, and magic/sorcery of the Roman pagan world. I also work in healthcare, so the amalgam of myth and medicine, and the re-imagining of the old tales using a modern medical vocabulary was eye-opening in what those ancient illnesses could have been. This novel is a sequel, continuing the journey of Simon Peter’s wife, a woman who is as extraordinary as her famous husband. At its core, A Fisher of Women is ultimately the story of a woman, her evolution, and finding her voice. What was the role of women in those days, and how could a disciple of a new faith transcend the boundaries of her time by discovering unique talents within herself?

What research did you undertake when writing the books?

I sought to be as authentic to history/Bible as possible by an academic and comprehensive study of medicine, history, and politics. I read the documents of Hippocrates. Three different doctors (oncologist, neurologist, and pain management specialist) had reviewed my novel for medical accuracy. I studied the historian Josephus, as well Bible in great detail. I also visited the Middle East several times to provide a vivid and cinematic vision of atmosphere, the angle of the trees, colors of the sky, spices of the market, the glittering limestone of Jerusalem. I also spent a fair amount of time researching pagan rituals and did a crash course on hypnosis, in order to understand a magician/sorceress of the ancient era.

What would you like readers to take away from reading A Fisher of Women?

I would like readers to imagine an elusive, beautiful, and dangerous world during the times of Jesus, and the coming of age adventures of one woman. However, the key message of A Fisher of Women and the Fisherwoman Trilogy, is the story of invisibility. It is the story of the evolution of love. Initially, the way she loves is very conditional, focused upon her husband. However, as she encounters Jesus and imbibes his teachings, the way she loves is transformed. It becomes unconditional, as she learns to love beyond herself. That, I believe, is the mission of every human being. To love more today than we did yesterday. To love more expansively tomorrow than we do today. And it doesn’t matter if our names are remembered or not. Because love is not about us. It is about giving, and the giving is invisible.

What was your favorite scene to write?

The healing of the dancer Zionna was my favorite scene. She had become a leper because she had loved the wrong man, she was deceived, and she was wrongly imprisoned. She is actually based on a friend of my mother’s, a privileged girl who attended boarding school and ran away with her boyfriend. Only after, did she realize he was already married, and her parents disowned her. Trying to survive, she became very sick and my mother never knew if she lived or died. The redemption of Zionna, and the restoration of her body through love, was something I always wished for this friend of my mother’s that I had never met.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Writing the scenes with Simon Peter were hard for me, presenting a flawed character who was insecure and blamed his wife, yet simultaneously loved her and attempted to protect her. It was very hard for me to make him sympathetic and demonstrate his maturity. As a woman, it is challenging for me to think like a man.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have always known that I wanted to be a writer. I just did not always have the courage to make it happen. Sometimes we get caught up in life, and we forget our dreams. But I have known I was a storyteller since I was six and a poet at the age of ten.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I don’t have a daily routine. I write when I am inspired. Sometimes, I write for several hours in the day for months. Sometimes, I don’t write for months. The critical thing to me is to have the freedom to write when inspiration knocks, and to give myself the permission to break away from daily activities when there is a story that is writing itself.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

The Discipline. I am a perfectionist, so for many years I was afraid to write prose because it required so much editing. Even now, there are days when I force myself to write even if the words are not flowing, and my writer friends challenge me to keep refining my story even when I think I am done.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Margaret Atwood, Emily Bronte, Geraldine Brooks, Ian McEwan, Lan Cao, Andrew Pham. I love the elegance of their prose, and how original/expansive their thoughts are. To me, it is not just about writing a good story. It is when their prose style thrills me with its beauty in addition to an unforgettable story.

What was the first historical novel you read?

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I loved the character of Sydney Carton, who sacrificed his life so that his beloved Lucy Manette could have a happy ending with another man.

What is the last historical novel you read?

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Even though it is not connected to a specific event in history, its sense of atmosphere, time, and place were so potent, that it feels somehow very historical.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I wanted to be a kung-fu actress as a child, I knit, and my priorities tend to differ from social convention.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Being able to be very imaginative within a given historical context, almost like connecting the dots or problem solving. Similar to life, we don’t get to create the circumstances, but we can color it and invent within certain boundaries. Historical fiction is like that. You can’t change the facts, but you can play with perspective and imagination, and the gaps in the known to create something no one has realized could exist.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading? 

None in particular.

I tend to appreciate a certain mastery of language, and to gravitate towards themes that are out of the ordinary. My love of Margaret Atwood is an example.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I tend to be traveling, taking long solitary walks in nature or shopping malls (doesn’t seem to really matter when you are daydreaming half the time), and going to the opera.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I am currently working on the third book of the Fisherwoman Trilogy. This final book juxtaposes the revolutionary history of Israel against the well-known stories of the Bible. Additionally, I am working on my mother’s memoirs, who was an immigrant who fled the Communist invasion of South Vietnam.

Those both sound fascinating! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions!

A Fisher of Women by Catherine Magia

Publication Date: October 3, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 184 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Biblical

When the wife of Simon Peter returns to Galilee, she brings nothing but her faith in an enigmatic carpenter named Jesus, who has an extraordinary gift of healing the sick. But as she spends time in the presence of this divine leader, she discovers the gift of healing comes at a devastating cost. A terrible burden Jesus bears for the sake of his love for humanity.

In her quest to alleviate Jesus’s eternal suffering, the wife of Simon Peter befriends a pagan magician named Helen. Helen possesses a wisdom and healing power exceeded only by Jesus himself, but bears an unsavory reputation. Can Helen be trusted to ease Jesus's suffering? Or is she a rival seeking his ultimate destruction?

Simon Peter is immortalized as a devoted pillar of the early Church. This is the untold story of his wife, forgotten as a healer and invisible to the pages of history. Her journey leads her to understand the inevitable price of healing, and what it truly means to love.

Available on Amazon

Praise for A Fisher of Women

"Catherine Magia has penned an affecting narrative, weaving a woman's journey of discovery with pagan sorcery, ancient medicine, and the Christian faith. Biblical details are given a fresh and unconventional interpretation, particularly the very human suffering of Jesus and the alienation of the sick in this enthralling chronicle of miracles. A thrilling sequel." - Lan Cao, author of The Lotus and the Storm and Monkey Bridge

"Catherine's name springs from the root for magic, which perhaps explains her uncanny skill at conjuring fictional worlds. We quickly fall under the spell of her heroine in A Fisher of Women, the wife of Simon Peter, a healer who learns not only the virtues of plants but the restorative power of forgiveness. Be transported back to Galilee: its fragrant spices, its pagan magicians, its wealth and danger, the golden light in Jesus's eyes. More than a great read -- it's a revelation." - Duncan W. Alderson, author of the Harper's Bazaar Must-Read Magnolia City

"The story is smoothly written, with clear characters, a mix of scripture and historical events presented in an easy to follow manner... Letting go of fear, learning to forgive, and healing with more than just faith, will require a journey Simon Peter's wife did not expect." - Sarah Bradley, Ind'tale Magazine

"Author Catherine Magia presents an intense story of Peter's wife who struggles against many odds, including the her husband's refusal to accept his wife as his equal as a disciple. The story takes place in and around the Sea of Galilee, the home base of the first disciples of Christ, which comes alive in the readers imagination. Familiar biblical characters are portrayed as deeply human, both in their flaws and in their redemptive moments."-E. Ann McIntyre, author of Lazarus of Bethany and Feast of Pontius Pilate, member of Catholic Writers' Guild

About the Author

Catherine Magia's debut novel The Fisherman's Bride won the 2017 New England Book Festival. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to New Jersey at the age of ten. At eighteen, she won a creative writing scholarship to Drew University, where she studied political theory and chemistry. Although her formal education was in the hard sciences, Catherine has always maintained a passion for the written word, publishing her poetry in several literary journals including the Michigan Quarterly Review.

She discovered the voice of Simon Peter's wife on a soul-searching journey, a trek through the biblical lands of Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. She spent seven years researching and writing her debut novel, traveling as far as Ephesus, Turkey.

The Fisherman's Bride was described as "unique and authentic" by the Booklife Prize, indie division of Publisher's Weekly. The Historical Novel Society has praised the book as "complex and engaging," while Reader's Favorite Magazine has lauded it as "literature," awarding it the Silver Medal for Historical Christian Fiction.

A Fisher of Women, the sequel to The Fisherman's Bride, was released on October 3rd. She is currently writing and researching the third book of The Fisherwoman Series.

By day, she works as a director of market insights in the development of new cancer medications. She is focused on connecting cancer patients and their stories to the executives and employees of the pharmaceutical industry. She is currently based in Boston.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 3
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 4
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Thursday, December 6
Excerpt at T's Stuff

Sunday, December 9
Interview at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Monday, December 10
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, December 11
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, December 13
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, December 14
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Saturday, December 15
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Monday, December 17
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 19
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away an eBook of A Fisher of Women! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Fisher of Women

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