Author Q&A – Jennifer Niemi/ Nerissa


Tell me a little bit about your background, both as a writer and a cat lover.
I’ve lived with cats for most of my life. My first cat was Tummy Tum Tums. I named him. I was three or four. Other than a few weeks “in between” cats, I don’t think I’ve been without at least one since Tummy. Cats seem to be an integral part of my life and family. Books, too, have always been an important part of my life. My mother read Shakespeare to me while I was still in the womb and I’ve been told that my parents were both chastised if they tried to skip parts of my bedtime stories when I was very young. I couldn’t yet read them myself but I did have them all memorized. I knew when they were cheating. In elementary school, I wanted to be Nancy Drew when I grew up. Later, I wanted to be Jessica Fletcher. Writing and mysteries had become a part of my very being.

What inspired you to submit to this anthology?
It wasn’t really inspiration. A couple of friends said I should and I just decided to try. I’m very glad they suggested it.

Tell me a little bit about your relationship with the cat in your story — from your own (human) perspective.
I currently live with nine cats and love them all equally however Nerissa is special. Nissy was born feral. It took a lot of time and effort to gain his trust and during those initial months, we bonded. I always say that I was Nissy’s first friend without a tail as I was his first human friend. Before me, he trusted only cats. To this day, he’ll spend time just hanging out with me either indoors or out. We really are best friends.

Why did you choose to support Anjellicle Cat Rescue?
Nerissa shares the daily kill lists coming out of the New York City ACC, on Twitter and Facebook, nightly. As one of the rescues pulling from the ACC, Anjellicle Cat Rescue has saved hundreds of adoptable cats. They’re a great rescue, often pulling cats that might need a little extra TLC before being adopted. They might need to get over the shelter cold or a URI or even require surgery. Or perhaps they’re simply too young for the adoption room. Nissy and I want to help Anjellicle Cat Rescue help these cats in need.

If you had written the story from your own perspective, how would it have been different?
Perhaps no cat-styled wise cracks made at my expense.

What’s your next writing project that you’re working on?
I’m STILL working on my cozy mystery series featuring Elsie Peabody, a character I created for several short stories, two or three of which were published in a leading woman’s magazine.



How did you feel when your story was chosen to be included in the anthology?
WONDERFUL! Even though I publish twice weekly on my blog, it was super nice to know that a real publisher wanted to hear ’bout my life and story, too.

Tell me about your relationship with the human who submitted your story and helped you write it.
First of all, the peep didn’t really help me write my story. I, Nerissa the Cat, write all my own stuff. MOUSES! But seriously, I do love the peep. Peep #1 was my first pal, my first bud, my first friend without a tail. Havin’ been born in a neighbors’ woodpile, all I knew ’bout peeps was that they were scary. Peep #1 took the time to convince me to come live inside a house and she was the first person to ever look after me. Before her, only my mama and older brother Calista had ever cared for me. She and I have a special bond and I’ll always love her, forever. And the peep also gave me my first taste of the nip. Gotta love her for that.

Is there an event or anecdote that was left out of the story that, looking back, you wish you had put in?
I don’t think so but I’ll go back over and get back to you on that.

What do you think of the other cats in the book? Which one do you admire or look up to the most?
A lot of ’em I don’t know yet but I’m lookin’ forward to readin’ the book and finding out more. Can I get back to you ’bout that, too?

There are so many famous cats, in the news, in movies, and on the internet. Which one is your favorite, and why?
Tuxedo Stan and Earl Grey. You know ’bout them? Stan was sort of the founder of the Tuxedo Party of Canada. He ran for Mayor of HRM, remember? If you’re wonderin’ why in the heck a city is named HRM, makin’ it sound like a ship or an appointment by the Queen or somethin’, you’re not alone. Used to be Halifax and Dartmouth and who knows what else before they all amalgamated. Anywho… Stan ran for Mayor. Because of his initiative, great strives have been made for cats in the City of er — hmmm… “HRM.” A year later, just before we had a provincial election, my dear pal Stan died. But his brother Earl Grey stepped up to the plate and ran for Premier. Due to a conspiracy of some sort, Earl’s name never appeared on the ballot but nevertheless, his runnin’ is helpin’ cats in Nova Scotia to this day. These two brothers have helped so many cats. How could they NOT be my favorites? Right after them is Bucky from that comic strip although at the mo, I can’t think of the strip’s name. [The comic is “Get Fuzzy.” — ed.] But I really like Bucky’s sense of humor. My kind of cat, for sure.

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!)
Anderson Cooper. What’s that Peepers? Okay, FINE. Peep #1 says that the Coop isn’t an actor but I still think he could play my character for sure. He’s the silver fox whereas I’M the silver — some say platinum — tabby. Also, we both like diggin’ for the truth. Well if the Coop won’t do, how ’bout Richard Dean Anderson? I really liked him in Stargate and I hear that his character McGuiver was into buildin’ stuff out of normal household things. Kind of like me when I take a fryin’ pan and an eggbeater and before you know it, I have a teleporation device! Yup, he and I have a lot in common, for sure.