Sit Down Saturday with Catherine Lanigan

Today we’re celebrating the release of LOVE SHADOWS.
So, Catherine, where did you get the idea for this novel?
A. This story encompasses a great deal of my personal life. My sweet sister, Nancy, lived nearly her entire life in our small town of La Porte, Indiana. She was everything to this quaint and very pretty town. She was very active on the Zoning and Planning Commission; the City beautification project and she spearheaded the renovation of our church which had been originally built in 1931 during my grandparents era.  When Nancy died on May 7th , 2009 it was as if the effervescence of this little city was expunged. Those lights in my own life felt as if I could never turn them on. Then two years later my mother died. Sarah and Luke in the story, are really me and what I was going through during my grief process. So many women today are head of households and many of us are the glue that others in our lives count on to be the glue to “hold it all together”.  The burden of handling grief and everyday life can be enormous and all of us will go through it in one way or another. I wanted a very real story, with raw emotions always at the forefront the way that they are during these times of crisis in our lives. At the same time, I wanted a very sweet love story to emerge out of the pain and emptiness that death leaves in its wake. Because I do believe that in the end, love does conquer a great deal. Maybe not absolutely everything, but love has massive power to heal broken hearts. 

In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say?
A. The caption would say, “Come sit with me and let me tell you a fascinating story about true love and loving. It all takes place right here on the Shores of Indian Lake.”

How long did it take you to write this book?
A. About a year. It had a lot of incarnations, including a screenplay which is another story. 

What is your favorite scene?
A. I have a lot of favorite scenes. I love when they first meet with Sarah’s dog, Beau, pawing Luke’s children with his dirty paws and the kids just loving it while Luke is fit to be tied.  I like the “top of the ferris wheel scene”; but probably the most moving is Luke’s scene in the closet, getting rid of his dead wife’s clothing and him remembering all the love they had shared, while at the same time he is just beginning to fall in love with Sarah. 

Who was your favorite character and why?
A. Definitely Mrs. Beabots.   She is eighty years old and is as sharp, feisty and wise as I hope that I will be at that age. She is my idol. She is funny, charismatic and caring. She takes care of “her girls” as she has “adoped” Sarah and all her girlfriends, since Mrs. Beabots has no children.  She is mindful of their different talents and faults. She pushes and guides them the way a very loving friend and mentor should do. She will be an on-going character in all the Shores of Indian Lake romances. I hope that someday I will be able to do a “period” romance and tell Mrs. Beabots’s love story. It’s a corker, as she would say.

If you could pick fictional characters to play the hero and heroine, who would they be? 
Heathcliff from “Wuthering Heights” would be Luke. So in love, and losing Cathy so dramatically, breaking his heart forever it would seem to us readers. I always wondered if he would remain as that grieving, tragic man or would he love again? 
Sarah is kind of blend of Mary Poppins who falls in love with Luke’s children before she falls for him. Through Sarah and her love of life, the kids discover their own talents and find that their lives are not over because their mother is gone. Sarah also has that “Annie” from “Sleepless in Seattle” belief that if she doesn’t take a chance on love and risk her heart, which terrifies her, she’ll never really know if Luke is the one for her. I have always been of the opinion that to put oneself “out there” to give love a chance is just about the bravest thing a person can do. If you lose, the pain is excruciating.

Tell us one thing you learned during research.
A. Amazingly, the newest research on grief has revealed that most humans recover rather rapidly from death of a loved one. We all know that we DO have to pick up the pieces and move on. We must take care of the other members of our family. The taxes and bills must be paid. We must go back to work, mow the lawn, paint the house and do the laundry. Just the ordinary tasks of everyday living apparently assuage our pain and see us through to the other side of grief, back to normalcy. The busier we are, the healthier we are. We do not need to escape to a quiet place, island or glacier to contemplate the universe. Many of us can benefit from counseling or bereavement groups such as I used in the story where Luke and Sarah meet, but this is not necessary unless the grieving is painful and has lasted more than a year. Up to a year, we are expected to be in pain and experience a degree of depression. Anything past that, certainly going on the two years as Luke did, is a red flag. 

Thank you, Catherine, for sharing with us today!


  1. Catherine - your story sounds like just the kind of book I love to read, and your cover is so appealing. I'd love to sit right there and have you tell me the story. I feel a connection to this because I wrote a Superromance ages ago with the same title about a situation very similar, except that it had elements of murder and mystery. And I definitely have to know more about Mrs. Beabots. Congratulations on the book and on recovering from the loss of your sister - I know how hard that is. Wish you big sales and more big ideas!

    1. Thanks, Muriel,
      Coming from you, truly an accolade I cherish.
      And yes, Mrs. Beabots is just a hoot. I would LOVE to write her romance....but that would be an historical!!!


  2. I always gravitate towards murder and mystery. Cool beans! I'm so sorry about your sister. Glad to have you here with us at Heartwarming.

    1. Pam,
      I LOVE the mystery angle. Frankly, I believe we all have a whole lot of mystery in our lives. WE just keep it to ourselves.

  3. Sorry this coming late, Catherine! Yesterday was crazy. Like you, I love realistic, raw, emotional stories and yours sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read it!

    1. Hi, Karen,
      Thanks for reading. I hope you like it as much as I adored writing it.

  4. Sounds like a wonderful story! I am amazed all the time by the resiliency of people and their ability to move on after such loss. I love an emotionally-packed story and this seems to fit the bill. Can't wait to read it :)

    1. Hi, Amy,

      I was really surprised when I read up on the "New" take on grief when I did the research for this book. That's why I wanted to share it here with everyone on Sit Down Saturday.


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