Tell me a little bit about your background, both as a writer and a cat lover.
I started writing creatively in 1994, playing with a fantasy novel. I wrote short stories (not cat related) for many years, and still love writing them. At some point (2003?) I wrote a cat fantasy novel called The Great Purr, which was published in 2014. I’ve also had two short story collections published, and a cat themed memoir (Driving With Cats) published. I love writing about cats, whether they are fictional characters that drive a story, or whether I am talking about my relationship with them. I write regularly for Catster.com, three times a week.
I got turned on to cats in the 1980s or so, after breaking up with a guy, and deciding I wanted a pet. My apartment would allow cats but not a dog. I adopted two cats (who were to be adopted together if at all possible; these were the wishes of the person who surrendered the cats because she had to go into a nursing home). I became fascinated with cats, fell in love, and have had several cats since then. They have changed my life in many ways.
What inspired you to submit to this anthology?
I was at a Cat Writers Association conference in 2013, and Janiss asked if I might be interested in writing a story. I couldn’t resist — I love writing from a cat’s point of view. All of our cats have been rescues, strays, or adopted from a shelter, so it wasn’t hard to decide who to write the story about.
Tell me a little bit about your relationship with the cat in your story — from your own (human) perspective.
Rama came to us with a lot of trust issues. His love is subtle and really is “sideways,” but he is very affectionate to me, and has become more so with my husband. I have a special bond with Rama, just because he came to us with such issues, and we’ve worked through these. He’s actually a very gentle boy who can seem very sensual and innocent all at once. I love him dearly. He has special moments where he will really love you head on, and then he’s completely passionate.
Why did you choose to support Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter?
We had just moved to Vermont (from Minnesota) and I knew there were a few rescue organizations in the area, but I knew nothing about them. I asked a veterinarian who they recommended, and gave them background about the book. When our dog died, months later, I visited this organization to donate dog food and treats. I was very impressed with their facility, their empathy for cats, and their commitment to rescue and adoption. I look forward to volunteering there in the spring when the roads are better.
If you had written the story from your own perspective, how would it have been different?
I don’t think it would have been as interesting. Writing from Rama’s perspective, I can really delve into his issues and the psychological damage he had to work through. I wouldn’t have been able to include the neat fantastical element — or it would have been differently handled. I imagine if I wrote from my perspective, it might sound like a lot of human whining — “Why can’t I get this cat to like me?” “Why doesn’t this cat act like Target? He looks like Target!” etc.
What’s your next writing project that you’re working on?
Three things are in the works: A second cat fantasy novel about a cat who wants to come back as a human in his 9th life, a second cat-themed memoir that deals with Place (and our move cross country) and a literary novel about an estranged mother-daughter relationship, set in North Dakota.
How did you feel when your story was chosen to be included in the anthology?
Actually, I felt a bit shy at first! Though I can make noise when I’m crabby, I don’t actively seek the limelight (like Target, my predecessor that I mention in my story!). But my human convinced me to tell my story, since I’m so special to her. She says I’ve come a long way, and she is right!
Tell me about your relationship with the human who submitted your story and helped you write it.
I love this human, and she knows how to read my signs. If I want to snuggle on the bed, all I have to do is look at her a certain way and run for the bedroom. She gets the idea! She is very well trained and behaved. If humans have nine lives (do they?), I think she may have been a small cat in a previous life. Not a panther, like me, but a small cat.
Is there an event or anecdote that was left out of the story that, looking back, you wish you had put in?
No. I did a pretty good job of covering it all. One thing that amuses me — my human wrote another book about cats where she compared my transition into this human household to picking berries — how silly is that? What could I possibly have to do with a berry?
What do you think of the other cats in the book? Which one do you admire or look up to the most?
My human has just started to read the book to me, so I don’t know all the cats yet. But I really admire Lucky’s spirit. But I bet I end up liking Browser the best. He looks just like me, and he’s from Minnesota. That’s where I started out and where I was rescued! No cat wants to be out in a Minnesota winter, I can tell you that.
There are so many famous cats, in the news, in movies, and on the internet. Which one is your favorite, and why?
You know, I don’t spend a lot of time on the internet! But I’ve got to say I really really like Isis, and Joan, and all the cool people that are making it possible for Isis and Joan to be together. [Joan is a patient in hospice and Isis is her cat, and their story has become a viral news item. — ed.] Plus, Isis looks like me!
If a movie were made of your life, which actor do you think should be cast to play you? (Using the latest CGI techniques, of course!)
That is tough! Maybe a really brooding Johnny Depp, or perhaps a young Ray Liotta. Or even better, Hugh Laurie in House. I’m not quite so cynical, but I can be pretty snarky!