Tell me a little bit about your background, both as a writer and a cat lover.
I’ve been writing forever. Or at least it seems that way. As a kid I was a huge reader, which led to a love for writing. I penned short stories and a lot of bad poetry as a teenager. I wrote my first novel as my graduate school thesis (it’s in the drawer). I’ve always loved crime and mystery, and while I was working as a reporter, I started penning my first mystery novel (also in the drawer). In 2011, I signed a contract for my first series, the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries featuring a protagonist who discovers two hidden talents — she can cook fabulous food for pets, and she’s phenomenal at finding dead bodies. Recently, I began working on a new cat-themed mystery series under the pen name Cate Conte — more to come on that soon!
As for cats, I adopted my first two eighteen years ago and fell in love. So much so that when my mother found an abandoned litter of kittens a couple years later, I felt compelled to help them — and ended up keeping two. After that, I started volunteering with a rescue in New Hampshire, and they just kept coming home with me! Years later, I have a houseful and still support my favorite groups as much as possible.
What inspired you to submit to this anthology?
I love telling stories about my rescue animals, and Tuffy had such a great story to tell. As a human, to see the bond between him and his feral friend was so touching. Anyone who says animals don’t have feelings is so wrong, and I wanted that to come across in the story. I also love any project that helps rescues — they need all the help they can get!
Tell me a little bit about your relationship with the cat in your story — from your own (human) perspective.
Tuffy is quite the character. He was also so independent, yet clearly he wanted to be loved, and that’s what I hope came across in the story. He’s always been kind of… haughty (what can I say, he’s a Maine coon) but he’s also very sweet and loving, and very kind to his feline pals. Even the one who used to beat him up! He’s a snugglebug, and he definitely enjoys the attention he gets as the inspiration for the cat in my Pawsitively Organic Mystery Series. He loves the camera!
Why did you choose to support Friends of Feral Cheshire Cats?
Friends of Feral Cheshire Cats is a small, local rescue who has helped me many times in the past, and I wanted to return the favor. I also wanted to support a feral cat group in honor of Lion, Tuffy’s friend in the story.
If you had written the story from your own perspective, how would it have been different?
That’s a tough question. I probably would’ve focused on how worried we were about Tuffy living outside, and how we really wanted to do the right thing for him by offering him a warm, safe place to live. I think the ending would’ve been the same, though — all about it being his choice whether he wanted to stay or not.
What’s your next writing project that you’re working on?
I’m presently working on book four of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries, Murder Most Finicky. This time, Stan Connor steps out of Frog Ledge, Connecticut, but manages to find a dead body even on her weekend away with a group of fancy, famous chefs. As expected, much drama ensues… as well as a few sticky situations.
I’m also working on the first book in my new series, as yet untitled, but it’s promising to be a lot of fun!
How did you feel when your story was chosen to be included in the anthology?
Well, of course they chose my story — it was fabulous! My picture definitely helped too. But most importantly, I got to tell the world about my friend Lion, which I love. I miss him a lot.
Tell me about your relationship with the human who submitted your story and helped you write it.
The human is pretty cool. I mean, she put me in her mystery series. That made me feel pretty special, because there are a lot of other cats she could’ve picked. I guess she knew I would get a lot of attention because I am fabulous. Maine coons are irresistible.
Is there an event or anecdote that was left out of the story that, looking back, you wish you had put in?
I thought about discussing some of the adventures Lion and I had out of the human’s sight, but I think she would’ve been upset, so I censored myself, sadly. If I get another contract, perhaps for a memoir, I’ll definitely tell all.
What do you think of the other cats in the book? Which one do you admire or look up to the most?
These other cats are all so amazing. Their stories, like mine, really demonstrate the plight of abandoned cats. I admire them all. But I have a soft spot for Lucky. He went through such tough times but kept his spirits up, kept on loving, and found a great home. Not only that, but other kitties have been helped in his name, and I think that’s pawsitively fantastic.
There are so many famous cats, in the news, in movies, and on the internet. Which one is your favorite, and why?
I totally love Grumpy Cat. He just makes me laugh. He’s so cranky and foul, and I do wish I could offer him some self-help advice. But then he wouldn’t be nearly as funny. I also like the Simon’s cat cartoons. They’re pretty realistic about a cat’s life!
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!)
Oh, you’re assuming I have no acting talents. Of course I do! I am a wonderful actor. I would suggest I play myself, because no one could get me just right.