There are not a lot of authors in Taumarunui, New Zealand, but, as they say in Whoville, “We are here!”

Sadly, however, Taumarunui lost one of its authors this week. Cate Sutherland wrote all her life, with a passion for science fiction. That’s right – a science fiction writer from Taumarunui; and why not?

The loss of any author is a loss of a voice. In a world of tweets and Facebook statuses, the author’s voice still holds a significant place in our world – weavers of tales with an invitation into the deeper recesses of the human story. More than sound bites, the author offers an extended narrative to be treasured.

This is the way I knew Cate Sutherland – as a writer. Yes, in a small town like Taumarunui, I had known her in other ways first. I went to church with her, she was a family friend, she was a friend of friends.

What I didn’t know, for many years, was that she and I were on a similar journey as unpublished novelists.  Both of us were carrying THE book inside us – the one that aches and gnaws inside; the one that won’t go away; the one that seems to be fully written inside as if we had read the book before, fully formed, and it was our responsibility to bring it into the world; the one that haunts us between our moments of domesticity, between the dreams we have for the other people in our lives.

Because that was Cate’s focus when she wasn’t being a writer – she was being a mother, a wife, a friend, a faithful servant of Christ; this is the Cate I knew from afar, the one that didn’t interest me as much – as much as it should have. Death brings revelations and regrets such as these.

So, I knew her as a writer – and as a fan of writers. Shortly after I published my novel, Cate published hers, In the Shadow of the Hills; and in publishing her book and establishing a more prevalent online presence, even as fellow residents of Taumarunui, we developed a more personal and inspired relationship than we had in person. Perhaps we could finally interact more comfortably as writers when we wrote to one another.

The number one part of our relationship was our encouragement of one another. We had written very different books, but had travelled very similar journeys. We knew what it had taken and were excited to see each other break through. We were excited to hear each other’s voices.

Enough from me. For writers, it is better to read what they say, rather than what others say about them. So, I am going to go read Cate’s book – and I recommend you do the same.

Farewell Cate – and thank you.

Read about Cate’s journey as an author, in her own words, on her blog.

Buy her book, In the Shadow of the Hills, on Amazon.

This blog entry was posted with permission from Cate’s amazing husband, Dean Sutherland.

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