Val’s self-written bio: “Val is a former president of the Coeur du Bois Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, as well as the founding and current president of the Popular Fiction Association of Idaho, which produces the Murder in the Grove mystery conference. Her debut novel, the science-fiction romance Blade’s Edge, is available now from Samhain Publishing. She lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and three cats (and one dog). Her website: http://valroberts.wordpress.com/“
1) Why did you decide to be a writer instead of a cat sanctuary owner?
Actually, I work next to a cat sanctuary owner at my evil day job, so I support his cat sanctuary (online at http://www.conradstrays.com/, if you’re interested). That leaves me time to write down what the stories in my head. My cat family seems to like the arrangement.
2) Why do you think cats are better than dogs? (Since you call yourself a writer, I trust your answer will be eloquent.)
That’s a tough question, because I live with cats and dogs; they’re both wonderful. However, dogs don’t purr, and my dog (he’s a Rottie-Sharpei cross) weighs about 100 lbs, so you can fit more cats on the sofa than dogs.
3) Tell me about the felines in your fiction. How often do they appear and how big a part do they play in your narratives?
I only have one cat in my debut novel, but he plays an important role, chewing apart the rope tying the heroine’s hands at a critical moment. He’s also a very big cat, a domestic puma. Normally I think keeping wild animals as pets is just wrong on so many levels, but the book is set on another planet, many centuries in the future—more than long enough from now to have developed a breed of 150-pound house cats.
4) On the off-chance you have yet to incorporate cats into your fiction, when do you plan to rectify this egregious error and demonstration of poor writing skills?
Tomascon proves that I’m capable of writing a book correctly—with a very special cat in it.
5) What are your favorite works of fiction involving cats or favorite fictional cats?
I really like Linnea Sinclair’s furzels and fidgets (cats and kittens) in Games of Command. The six-limbed treecats in the Honor Harrington series by David Weber are also favorites.
You mean stories like how we adopted Gizmo (black and white cat) for our 16th wedding anniversary? We went to the shelter for a puppy and came home with an 8-week old kitten because she has thumbs. I discovered that day that my darling husband has a thing for polydactyl cats—after being married to the man for sixteen years.
7) Multiple choice 1. What is your preference and why?
A) Long hair
B) Short hair
C) No hair
— Note: I am not, of course, referring to the hirsute qualities of your most recent hero or heroine.
D) Long hair and short hair — those poor kitties without hair just look embarrassed to be nekkid when everyone else has all that lovely fur. I like long-haired cats; they’re more likely to have ear tufts and I love me some cat ear tufts. However, darling husband (the one with a thing for feline thumbs) is mildly allergic to long-hair cats, so all of our fur babies of the feline persuasion are short-haired.
8) Multiple choice 2. You have a writing deadline but the cat who rules you wants some attention. Desperately. Do you:
A) Lock the cat in another room and keep working?
B) Pet the cat for a couple minutes and then toss her cruelly aside?
C) Pet the cat as long as she wants because you know it will inspire and refresh you?
— Note: If you answered anything besides C, we suggest you consider the fact you could have written a much better book if you had been inspired and refreshed instead of mean to the cat.
D) Ha-Hah! I am an experienced typing slave, and I have developed the ability to type on a laptop with a cat draped over my forearms within chin-pettable distance. I have forearms like Popeye and elbow tendonitis as a consequence, but it’s worth it to type and have happy cats. Perhaps this is a technique Mean Kitty’s typing slave would like to learn? No? Ah, well.
How goes the discussion about discipline in your house?
Darling husband is an animal seducer who speaks fluent cat, dog, rabbit and wolf hybrid (and maybe others, but those I’ve witnessed). He discusses discipline and the fur babies understand. I try to nod sagely as if I’m in the conversation.
Last year after we brought home Gizmo, I adopted a special kitten from my friends at Conrad Strays: Stuart (grey and white cat) was abandoned at a couple of weeks of age and raised on a bottle. If I could change one thing about Stuart, I would give him ear tufts! Otherwise, he’s a perfect 15-pound specimen of young adult cathood. And when he’s not, Gizmo puts him in his place.
Do you believe pets and humans come to resemble each other over time?
I hope not—Stuart has gray fur.
When you’re in the zone with your writing, what does your cat have to do to get your attention?
It depends on the cat: Serena is 18 years old, so she’s usually asleep; Gizmo simply curls up on my leg; Stuart, on the other hand, climbs onto my chest and manages, somehow, to stick his, ah, package in my face. He’s been neutered, so I’m not sure why he’s showing it to me, but it does get my attention, LOL.