ABOUT AUTHOR: Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Ed and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. She and Ed have three grown children and eight amazing grandchildren.

ABOUT BOOK: It didn’t take Lainie long to pigeonhole everyone she met: the empty-headed waitress, the crazy religious old lady, the full-of-himself bartender, the nosy busybody, and of course, as she got to know them all, she realized she was wrong on all counts. (Well, maybe not completely wrong about the nosy busybody.) Have you ever been guilty of that? If you’ll admit it, I will.

What inspired you to write this novel?

Even though I've lived on the California Coast for quite a while, and find the cliffs that drop straight into the sea and the stands of redwood breathtaking in their beauty, there’s something about the desert that says to me, “You are home now.” I don’t know if it’s that dry air, or the hundred mile vistas, or the craggy mesas, but it just seems timeless and solid and unchanging—like it’s been quietly waiting for…what? For the next person looking for a place to hide, to start over maybe? To become someone they never thought they could be? One day a few years ago, my husband and I were driving through southern Arizona, and I saw a small town off in the distance, miles off the interstate. I found myself wondering who lived there and why. What brought them there and why did they stay? And what would happen if someone from a big city suddenly found herself in that little town and for some reason couldn't leave. Then Lainie started telling me her story.

What fascinated you and/or surprised you in your research Last Chance, New Mexico that made you say I need to include that in my book?

Last Chance, New Mexico is, of course, fictitious, as is the nearest larger town, San Ramon. But its location in southwestern New Mexico is real, as are the chile farms, and diners, and ranches and churches of the area. One of the little towns in southwestern New Mexico is Animas, with a population of about a thousand. My husband and I attended the community New Year’s Eve party there one year and a young lady, with justifiable pride, told us the Animas High football team had once won sixty-nine consecutive games. She said there were classes, more than one, who from freshman to senior year had never seen the team lose. Of course I had to put that in the book. How could you not? High school football is huge in the southwest.

What do you hope readers take away from Last Chance?

I think the take-away from Welcome to Last Chance is found in the title itself. Even if you’re at the end of your road, and your car is going nowhere, ever again, and the past is catching up, and the future doesn't look that good either, it’s not over. There’s always another chance.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

I’d love to! Book II of the A Place to Call Home series is in the works now and is scheduled for an April 2014 release. We’re still trying to come up with a terrific title as I write this, but I’ll let you know as soon as we have one. This book is also set in Last Chance and features Chris Reed, who you meet at the very end of Welcome to Last Chance, and Sarah Cooley, Last Chance’s new second grade teacher. I have to say, as much as I love Lainie and Ray, I really hated leaving Chris and Sarah at the end of Book II.

When you sit down to relax and read, what genre do you turn to? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or digital when you read? Why?
Cathy and her husband

Oh, my goodness. I don’t know that I can claim a favorite genre. I love literary fiction, historical fiction, biography, history, political thrillers, big fat generational sagas—I’m one of those people who gets panicky if she doesn't have something on hand to read at all times. I've even been known to read the ingredients on a cereal box if that’s all that’s handy. That’s why I love my Kindle so much; I’m never without a book. Even if I find myself suddenly stranded with nothing to read, I can pull out my phone and read from my Kindle app. Of course, by the time I get the print large enough to read, I only get a couple sentences per screen, but it beats the cereal box.
 Did you always want to be an author? If not can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

I have always wanted to write. And as a child I was always writing poems (mostly little sing-songy verses where ‘love’ rhymed with ‘above,’ and ‘way’ rhymed with ‘pray’), short stories, and very, very short novels. But you grow up and get realistic and make more sensible use of your life, and short, short novels give way to the occasional clever article for the church newsletter. But one day, a character marched into my head, unpacked, and started telling me her story. What could I do but to write it down?

Can you share your testimony with us?
Cathy at Sarah's Birthday Party

My pleasure, although it’s not the least bit dramatic. I grew up in church, was baptized at eight, and went on to youth group, college group, young marrieds…and then saw it all start over again with my own family. Pretty seamless. But, of course, life can really throw some curves. Finances can get tough, children can rebel, parents can suffer lingering illnesses, and even when things appear to be going fine, doubts can spring up from nowhere and you can be wandering though a spiritual death valley before you even know it. And here’s the cool part. Jesus is always, always, there. If I've wandered, he’s gone after me. If I've been crushed, he’s gathered up the pieces. And as I've received the numberless gifts and blessings he’s bestowed, I've felt his pleasure. It’s been an amazing walk.


What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn't watch movies what books affected you most?

I didn't see a lot of movies when I was young, but I read incessantly. Two books I remember well are Little Women and David and the Phoenix (a Weekly Reader Book Club book—anyone remember those?) I loved Little Women because of Jo, the writer, of course. David and the Phoenix couldn't be called a classic, but I loved it anyway was about a boy who rode on the back of a Phoenix and night to visit mythical creatures—griffins, banshees, leprechauns. It was very magical.

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

I’d prepare food. I’m always trying to feed people. One of my characters says of her mother, “If you’re not actually eating, she thinks you must be starving.” That’s me. I’m also pretty good at looking on the bright side, so I’d be encouraging people not to give up.

A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?

There are so many times and places I’d love to visit, but if I could only chose one, I would love to have heard Jesus speak, perhaps the Sermon on the Mount.

What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)?

My Kindle
My Computer
And my coffee pot
(I’m including the dog with the family).

What two jobs have you had that would surprise people? Do tell!

Paid jobs? Not many, but I've volunteered a lot. Two of the most interesting things I've done were to landscaping the yard at a home for young women rescued from the sex trade in San Francisco, and helping to put together a library for a school of highly at risk middle schoolers.

Just that I really hope you enjoy Welcome to Last Chance. The people you’ll meet there are people I've known all my life. They can be a little quirky, and a little nosy, but they really do care..


THANKS for stopping by Cathleen and helping us get to know you and your books. I'm excited about the giveaway opportunity. You are also doing a great job of interacting with readers. There's lots of book fun happening at TBCN. Check it out. 

5 Book Giveaway Opportunity at THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK 

Go to TBCN to enter the 5 book drawing for Cathleen's new book. You must be a member to enter. It's free and easy!


Nora :o)


  1. Hi Nora, I'm back in the land of books.

    Wyndy Callahan

  2. WELCOME BACK Wyndy! GREAT to hear from you!


    Nora :o)