If there is such a thing as a “traditional” path to authorship, Catherine Shepherd took the road less traveled. And yet her story represents what is rapidly becoming the norm for many writers, and in that respect it serves as an inspiration for anyone burning to tell a story but afraid that no one will listen.
As a schoolgirl in Germany, Catherine enjoyed writing short stories in her spare time. When she discovered the genres of historical romance and thriller, she began to read such books avidly. College intervened, however, and she found little time to devote to her hobby while studying for her degree in economic science at Justus Liebig University in Giessen. Then came her career in the German financial sector, which flowed naturally out of her graduate work. Though she still had a passion for storytelling, Catherine disliked the laborious task of applying to traditional publishing houses and waiting for an answer that might never come, or having her patience rewarded with rejection after rejection. It seemed that for her, writing would always remain a hobby.
All this changed at the end of 2011, when Amazon introduced Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), which allows authors to quickly publish their works in Kindle format for global digital distribution. After reading about the possibilities available with KDP, Catherine saw a golden opportunity. At last she could write and publish a book on her own, without a publishing company! Inspired, she immediately began brainstorming story ideas, and the plot of Der Puzzlemörder von Zons started to take shape.
Catherine lives with her husband in the town of Zons, not far from Düsseldorf, where her employer, IKB Bank, is based. While walking through the dark, narrow alleys of the old town, surrounded by medieval architecture, the characters and story lines simply sprang to her mind. Zons felt like a time capsule, preserving for modern senses the sights, smells, sounds, and textures of the Middle Ages. She realized then that this new thriller she was composing should not take place only in medieval times, but in the present day as well. There would be two threads of time, interwoven throughout the book, and finally coming together into one strand at the end. With this in mind, she set to writing a book she would have loved merely to read: a mixture of an exciting thriller and a mysterious story from the Middle Ages.
Not expecting much but glad for an alternative to the traditional route, Catherine uploaded Der Puzzlemörder von Zons to KDP in April 2012. Within two weeks, it had climbed to No. 1 on the German Kindle Charts! Since then, the book has been a frequent bestseller for Thriller and Historical Romance. It even won 2nd Place among independent fiction authors at the 2014 Leipzig Book Fair. In July 2012, Catherine published the book as a print edition with Createspace and her own publishing company, Kafel Verlag. Following the success of Der Puzzlemörder von Zons, Catherine has been writing nonstop, publishing two new installments in the Zons-Krimi series in 2013: Der Sichelmörder von Zons and Kalter Zwilling. According to her German Facebook page, a fourth novel is in the works. Keep an eye out for that and the English version of her first book, entitled Fatal Puzzle, set to be released in late 2014!