Meankitty Wants to Know: Bente Gallagher

Bente Gallagher is in my Typing Slave’s local RWA chapter and also writes as Jennie Bentley. Her first Bente book (hehehe a “bent book”) came out this month and it’s about some human lady who sells houses.

I presume the lady in question sells most of her houses to staff of cats, even though Bente did confess there are no cats in A CUTTHROAT BUSINESS. We’ll leave it to her to rectify the error in the sequel, as she did have the good taste to put some VICs, very important cats, in her Jennie books.

You can read the first 3 chapter for free (of the Bente book) here: (PDF download).

Without further meow….

1) Why did you decide to be a writer instead of a cat sanctuary owner?

It’s only in my writing that I can get cats to actually behave the way I want them to. That and the allergies. I have family members who run a cat hotel though, if that counts.

2) Why do you think cats are better than dogs? (Since you call yourself a writer, I trust your answer will be eloquent.)

I have to admit I don’t. Not for me, anyway. I like cats. Have owned a few, for a few weeks, until the allergies got too bad and I had to find other homes for them. Cats have a lot going for them, though. They’re soft, and they purr nicely when they allow themselves to be petted. You don’t have to walk them, and sometimes they bring you presents you don’t want. Dogs are slobberingly affectionate, but you trip over them. Parakeets make nice noises, but they divebomb you and then they bite. Fish are fun to watch, but not so much fun to pet. And of course rodents are rodents. I’m sure we can agree on the uselessness of rodents.

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 started out with two Maine Coon cats, Jemmy and Inky. They played a very big part in my first book, Fatal Fixer-Upper. In the next two books, Spackled and Spooked / Plaster and Poison, not so much. The action has moved away from the house they live in, and so they have less to do. Mostly they just hang out at home all day, and ignore the heroine when she comes home at night. People were complaining about the lack of cat action, though, so in book 4, which comes in January – the title is Mortar and Murder – there’s a new cat, a little Russian Blue kitten. His name is Mischa, and although he doesn’t have a whole lot to do in the fourth book, he’ll be around for a while. He’s quite possessive and very much the guard cat, so in book 5, which I’m writing right now, he’ll be busy saving the heroine’s butt.

The first book in my other series, A Cutthroat Business, has no cats, but lots of catty people. I figure that’s almost as good.

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?

See above

5) What are your favorite works of fiction involving cats or favorite fictional cats?

There’s CATS, the musical, of course. And one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Peters, writes about a lot of cats in her series about Amelia Peabody, the Egyptologist. They’re named after Egyptian gods and goddesses, which seems fitting, right? And we can’t forget Garfield, or Sylvester, or Tom…

6) Do you have any amazing, or at least humorous, real life cat stories you’d like to share?

Don’t know about amazing, although it was rather humorous, I guess. In my early twenties, I lived in New York City, on the top floor of an apartment building in Astoria. One Saturday morning, my husband was leaving for work, and the apartment door was open while we did what married people do when one is leaving for the day and the other is staying: we were kissing. That’s when I thought I saw movement down on the floor. Now, this being New York, the idea of rodents or giant cockroaches naturally crossed my mind, but when I looked down, I saw a small gray kitten walking between our legs and into the apartment, tail straight up. No one claimed ownership, so it ended up staying with us until the allergies got unmanagable and I gave it to a friend. Its name was Monster, because of the look it would get in its eyes just before it attacked some moving part of one of us, and I cried buckets when I had to give it up.

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.

Given the allergies, C) No hair, might be the safest bet. That said, all cats are nice and soft, no matter how much hair they’ve got. They look pretty, too.

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.

C) of course. And I can say that with a straight face, since I don’t have a cat and this would never actually happen.

User submitted:

How goes the discussion about discipline in your house?

Discipline? What’s that? Listen, honey, in my house, we just try to get through the day the best way we can.

Do you think pets and humans come to resemble each other over time?

God, I hope not. I have fish, frogs, a dog and a bird. Could you imagine what I’d end up looking like, between the fur and beak and legs and tail?

Can you type with a cat stretched out across your wrists? If not, why
not? Otherwise, how’s the carpal tunnel?

The carpal tunnel is manageable, thanks for asking. I can type one-handed with a sixteen pound dog stretched out across my lap, if that counts. Makes for a reasonably decent arm-rest.

When you’re in the zone with your writing, what does your cat have to
do to get your attention?

The same thing anyone has to do: hit me over the head with something sharp. Either that or say, “Honey, you’re working so hard, you shouldn’t have to cook, would you like to go out to dinner tonight…?”



Meankitty & Typing Slave *