Cathy’s passion for people and the journeys that shape their lives make her a natural storyteller.
“I remember a mild spring morning in 1961. My younger brother, Danny, and I sat on the living room sofa, our grandmother sandwiched between. Our imaginations climbed the twisted trails forged by Lewis Carroll, as Grandma read aloud, Through the Looking Glass. That book was magic for me, and I was certain that the words of the story appeared between its covers by the same method.”
That day her grandmother revealed a secret, a profound truth that would change her life: “It’s not magic. Real people write books.”
Skeptical that such a thing could be achieved by mere mortals, five year old Cathy tested the waters. “Well, then, can I write books?”
Her grandmother didn’t see why not. “But first you have to learn to read and write.”
Although she dreamed of becoming a teacher, an actress, a detective, a spy, a disc jockey, the next Annie Sullivan, an archeologist, the ice cream truck driver—and many other things—Cathy knew from that moment in childhood that she would also one day write books.
Born on a farm in the North Carolina Piedmont, Cathy was third in a family of four children. Their 200-year-old farm house was believed, by Cathy’s grandaunt, to have been a hiding place for runaway slaves before the Civil War.
True or not, that story marked the beginning of Cathy’s lifelong fascination with the Underground Railroad and her passion for telling the stories of courageous people in every generation “who seek or help others gain freedom from prejudice, oppression, and cords that bind–those placed upon us by people and means beyond our control and those cords we forge ourselves.”
If you ask Cathy where she found this passion she’ll tell you, “In Christ.”
“He has changed my life. Learning to live with the freedom and grace Christ offers is learning to breathe and walk again–the greatest adventure–the adventure I want to share.”
Cathy’s first historical fiction, From Rebel Soldier to Famous Buckaroo, was written in fifth grade, typed by her mother, and posted on the classroom wall for parents and students to read.
“Historical accuracy,” she admits, “was shaky,” but asserts that “imagination ran rampant and convinced me I was on the trail.”
Cathy’s life, like the stories of Lewis Carroll, forged winding roads. From that unique journey, her large and interesting family, the people she’s known, and the places she’s lived—North and South—on farms and in small towns, she draws inspiration for stories, poetry, and drama.
Cathy Gohlke is the three-time Christy Award–winning author of the critically acclaimed novels Secrets She Kept, (Christy, Carol and INSPY Awards), Saving Amelie (INSPY Award), Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry Is a Fine Name (Christy Award), and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (Christy Award), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award and was listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008.
Cathy’s writing has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul, in My Turn to Care–Affirmations for Caregivers of Aging Parents, in newspapers, magazines, and in plays and monologues produced on local stages. Her story, Meet Me at the Holly Tree, was awarded an honorable mention in the Genre Short Story category of the Writer’s Digest 2000 Writing Competition.
She and her husband, Dan, divide their time between the Jersey Shore and Northern Virginia, where they share family time with their grown children, Daniel, and Elisabeth and Tim Gardiner. They welcomed their first grandchild in 2013 and are looking forward to another precious grandchild in 2017. Babysitting is now her favorite pastime. You can read more about Cathy in the interview excerpts found in her Press Kit.
Cathy has worked as a school librarian, a drama director for adults and young people, and as a director of children’s and education ministries. Her dreams of detective work, spying, and archeological digs are now accomplished through writing research. She speaks, gives readings and storytelling, performs on stage occasionally, but has yet to drive an ice cream truck.