5 from 35: Author Q&A with Caitlin Hamilton Summie

Caitlin Hamilton Summie published her first book, To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts (Fomite Press, 2017), at age 48. Her book recently won Silver in the Foreward INDIES Book of the Year Award for Short Stories.


How long did it take you to write your first (published) book, start to finish?

From first effort to completed book, it took me 25 years. But I had a lot of happy
interruptions on the way—children, career—and so sometimes there were long
gaps in the writing.

What kind of work did you do to support yourself while writing your first book?

I have worked as a book publicist for 22 years. Before that I spent about a year
temping while I applied for full-time jobs. Before that I was earning my MFA with
Distinction at Colorado State University, and my job was to teach one semester and
then to work as a liaison with the head of the department to help run the MFA

Did you ever want to quit writing? Why didn’t you? If you never wanted to quit, what kept you going?

No, I have never wanted to quit. There have been disappointing writing days and
exhilarating writing days, but I have never wanted to stop. I started writing before I
knew my letters, presenting my mother with scribbles and calling them stories. She
wisely told me that I should read them to her. I have been writing since I was tiny,
and I will always write. It is just part of me.

In the time since you first published, have you been able to quit your day job?

No, not at all. Few of us can. But one of the interesting things to contemplate is that
perhaps we shouldn’t quit our day jobs. For me at least, I don’t know that having a
great amount of time would make me write faster or better. I believe I am best with
deadlines and compressed time.

What are you reading right now?

NO FOND RETURN OF LOVE by Barbara Pym. I love her books.