NRGM Panelist Q&A: Catherine Lowell

nrg_monthOn Thursday, WNBA-NYC will be holding our National Reading Group Month Author Panel and Networking Party.

The theme of the panel is re-imagined classics. Panelists include Lyndsay Faye (Jane Steele), Catherine Lowell (The Madwoman Upstairs), Elizabeth Nunez (Even in Paradise) and Dinitia Smith (The Honeymoon)! Sam Raim will moderate the panel. He is an associate editor at Penguin Books, where he edits original fiction and nonfiction for Penguin Books, as well as reissues, translations, and anthologies for Penguin Classics. 


Date: Thursday, October 6th

Time: 6pm – 8pm

Location: Pen + Brush Gallery, 29 East 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010


Tickets: Members are free. Non-members $5-10


Each day this week, WNBA-NYC blog will highlight each panelist with a book description and a few get-to-know-you questions. (Due to technical difficulties with the blog you may not have received the subscriber email or seen the social media post about it. You can read about Lyndsay Faye here.)

Today we will be getting to know:


Catherine Lowell


Title: The Madwoman UpstairsNRGM Panelist Q&A: Catherine Lowell

Publisher: Touchstone


the-madwoman-upstairs-9781501124211_hrIn Catherine Lowell’s smart and original debut novel—hailed by Deborah Harkness as a “charming and memorable read”—the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt, using only the clues her eccentric father left behind, and the Brontës’ own novels.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. Since her father’s untimely death, she is the presumed heir to a long-rumored trove of diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts passed down from the Brontë family—a hidden fortune never revealed to anyone outside of the family, but endlessly speculated about by Brontë scholars and fanatics. Samantha, however, has never seen this alleged estate and for all she knows, it’s just as fictional as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and long lost objects from her past begin rematerializing in her life, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. With the help of a handsome but inscrutable professor, Samantha plunges into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by repurposing the tools of literature and decoding the clues hidden within the Brontës’ own novels.

A fast-paced adventure from start to finish for readers who devoured The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Madwoman Upstairs is a moving exploration of what happens when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction.




WNBA: What are you currently reading?

CL: The Return of George Washington, by Edward Larson—it’s about Washington’s attempt at retirement, but more generally about what makes a great leader.


WNBA: What was the very first classic you read? Did you like it?

CL: The Odyssey… I loved it! It was amazing that something so old could feel so modern.


WNBA: When did you discover your passion for writing?

CL: In kindergarten. I wrote a story featuring a dragon, and our class performed it while I narrated. The only problem was that I never wrote down the whole story, and by the time we were rehearsing it, I couldn’t really remember what happened, so each time the story came out differently.


WNBA: How would you describe your writing process?

CL: Greatly hampered without coffee and a muffin.


WNBA: What is your favorite color?

CL: Ocean blue!

About Liberty Schauf

Liberty S. is a bibliophile who would like nothing better than to lay in bed reading all day and night for the rest of her life, if it weren’t for that pesky desire to travel the world and experience her own adventures. She reads, YA, middle-grade, sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, mystery, chick lit, comics, historical fiction, and really loves books that contain multiple genres. You can find her on her blog at

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