Dana Fredsti (http://www.danafredsti.com/) has the distinction of having been published in one of the best ever anthology series of all time, Cat Fantastic, in edition IV (1996). Does anything else really matter beyond that? Well, I guess that she has volunteered at an exotic cat shelter is more than your standard human does.
1) Why did you decide to be a writer instead of a cat sanctuary owner?
… Wait a minute… you mean there was a choice involved here? I could have picked just one? Dang me…
Seriously, we have fostered cats and kittens rescued from various shelters over the last few years, so while we don’t exactly have a sanctuary, per se, we are a rest stop for many felines on the way from Death Row to a new home. As for our permanent feline residents, it’s pretty much their place. We just live there. And feed them. And clean up after them. In return, they sometimes let us sleep entire nights without beating at the bedroom door demanding a midnight snack or a rousing game of fetch.
2) Why do you think cats are better than dogs? (Since you call yourself a writer, I trust your answer will be eloquent.)
While I do love dogs (and adored my half Rottweiler/half Aussie sheperd mix), I’ve always been a cat person. They fascinate me. It’s easy to see why they were worshiped as gods in various cultures. Their personalities are all unique and I’ve got no patience with people who say they don’t have any personality. Nor do I have a lot of patience with those who prefer dogs because dogs ‘come when I call ’em.’
I love the feline independence (good thing ’cause mine do not appear to acknowledge things like ‘no! That’s MY food!’ or ‘Stop shredding the curtains!!’ or ‘Augh, my tender skin!’), which makes it even more special when one of them does come running over to see me just because I call his or her name. Dogs stare with adoration, but cats get this absolute glow of love in their eyes at times. Of course, it might just be their kitty hypno-stares telling me to feed them, but it sure LOOKS like love. 🙂
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?
While I don’t have felines in all of my books/stories, I do tend to include them a lot. For instance, there are three cats in my murder mystery MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon. They live with my heroine and her roommate, all have distinct personalities, are spoiled rotten, and fed on the sly by their landlady, so they’re also rather plump. They appear throughout the book as part of Connie’s (main character) life and because I like writing about cats. 🙂 I just finished a short story for an anthology where the hero is a shaman who shapeshifts into a jaguar. The story is set at a feline preservation compound (loosely based on EFBC/FCC http://www.cathouse-fcc.org where I volunteer) and I’d say without the feline element, I’d have no story or setting. So a BIG damn part in this one.
Never ever ever will a cat be harmed in anything I write. Won’t read a book or story where that happens and won’t ever write about it.
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?
Dodged the bullet on this question! HAH!
5) What are your favorite works of fiction involving cats or favorite fictional cats?
I love That Damn Cat (Disneyfied into That Darn Cat for the film adaptation’s G-rating). Midnight Louis in Caroline Nelson Douglas’s Temple Barr mysteries. The Cat Bastet in Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody mysteries. That’s a start.
Gonna steal a story off my blog for this one. One of the many cat toys in our house is a little mouse that squeaks when the cats bat it or pick it up. I came home from work Friday night and heard a strange noise, and found the squeaky mouse in one of their water bowls.
Squeak squeak. Squeak Squeak. Underwater, mind you. Like a drowned zombie mouse.
So I took the mouse out and tried to dry out the excess water with a paper towel, all the while listening to the squeaks speed up and slow down. Tossed it on the ground and for TWO HOURS it continued to squeak without provocation, slow, then fast, then outraged, then back down again.
Squeak squeak. squeaksqueaksqueak! SQUEAK!!!!
The cats were fascinated at first, circling it in small packs, one moving in to bat it, another picking it up and running with it . After an hour of this, they got upset and brought the mouse into the kitchen where I was cooking and dropped it near me. They stared up at me as if asking me to make it stop. I told ‘em it’s what they got for dropping their toys in the water dishes. They do this a lot.
Finally one of our younger cats, a little plump black kitty, came up to it, her tail puffed up like a bottle brush, and the most disconcerted look on her face. When she gets upset, she (and our big white cat Foster) both look like the Staypuff Marshmallow Man in GHOSTBUSTERS when it frowns. She gave that look, then ran up to the mouse with a meow and proceeded to smack it repeatedly, WHAP WHAP WHAP! Then she ran away. So we finally put it downstairs where it eventually stopped squeaking unless played with. Highly amusing.
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.
A & B. Don’t have a preference between long or short hair as they both shed equally and both feel wonderful when you’re petting a purring feline.
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.
Somewhere in between B & C. A couple of our cats will sleep draped across lap and iBook for hours if allowed and I do have to get some writing done. But no matter how busy I am, I will stop to pay attention to my little darlings for at least a short period of time. And if one of them isn’t feeling well (Foster, for instance, had to have 10 teeth extracted recently), they pretty much rule my life in terms of time and attention. Luckily most are happy curling up in kitty piles in between me and my boyfriend on the couch.
How goes the discussion about discipline in your house?
Disci…Discipline? I do not recognize this word. Neither do my cats.
If it were just my wrists, perhaps. But one of my boys, Beezle (short for Hey There Little Beelzebuddy) likes to rest his chin on my hand and doesn’t think much of it when I try and type.
When you’re in the zone with your writing, what does your cat have to do to get your attention?
The best trick goes to Frohicke (also known as Frodo, Froyo, Fro Fro and a number of other goofy nicknames). He likes to play fetch with these little rubber cat toys called Atoms. He will drop the atom on my foot until I stop what I’m doing and throw it for him. He will do this for hours. Other cats prefer to jump directly into my lap without warning. Some just stare at me. It’s kinda creepy.
I dunno, you tell me.
What one thing would you change about your pet/human?
No random peeing in strange and inappropriate places (luckily very rare these days) and to use the scratching posts instead of the corner of our bed. We have two sets of shredded sheets. Why, kitties? WHY?!!!!!