MY COVID MEMOIR, ILLUSTRATED! Part 1

“There’s a Cat Hair in My Mask: How Cats Helped Me through Unprecedented Times” is next level. I was so absorbed in reading her life experience during the 2020 pandemic that I read the book straight through in one day.  ~Verified reader, 5-Star Review

I’ve been so excited to see the response to my new memoir! It’s so different from my usual fictional writing that I didn’t know what to expect. People have been kind and thoughtful with their reviews, but they’ve also told me that they were surprised, amazed, and moved by the book. What more can a writer ask for?

Unlike my cozies, the people, places, and things in this book are real, so why not show you what some of them look like. This is Part 1 of a multi-part post consisting of pictures and a bit of the story.

Meet Jaimz, the cat who saved my life.

There’s a Cat Hair in My Mask: How Cats Helped Me through Unprecedented Times

 

Blissfully ignorant in Cabo San Lucas – February of 2020

Chapter 1. In the Beginning

When the coronavirus COVID-19 hit the world like a blistering shitstorm, I was living in an old house in Portland, Oregon with my husband and three cats. It was the beginning of February 2020, and Jim and I had just returned from our annual vacation in Mexico. I don’t remember hearing anything about a pandemic as we watched the glorious sunrises and sunsets from our beachfront suite on Cabo San Lucas. The only American horror story I knew of was our explosive political situation. Even with the devious mind of a mystery writer, I would never have imagined what was to come.

 

Chapter 2. The Cats

Tyler

Jim and I had three cats in our care: Tyler, Blaze, and Ginchan. Tyler had been with us the longest, a rescue brought as a stray to the Oregon Humane Society where I volunteered. The OHS medical team estimated the big brown tabby to be around eighteen years old, and I just couldn’t allow a super-senior to languish in a shelter, even one I knew to be giving him great care and attention. It wasn’t the same as home. Nothing was the same as home.

Blaze

A year later, we adopted Blaze, a fragile ten-year-old tuxie with a heart murmur who had been with me as a foster for several months. He’d been hit by a car, shattering his front leg, and for some reason the healing was slow. Over the hours of tending his wounds and medical needs, we’d formed a love-bond, and there was no way I could let him go. Once he got the pins out of his leg, I adopted him myself, welcoming him home to stay.

Ginchan

Then came Ginchan. Ginchan was a sad and special case. Jim and I had taken him in when our son Josh died unexpectedly. How could we not? We’d known the big Maine Coon mix since he was a kitten, some seventeen years before.

 

Chapter 3. When We Got Sick

After a week of being pampered at the Cabo resort, it was understandable that I would feel tired and a bit rundown pursuing my daily grind again. But when the tiredness became exhaustion, and the rundown feeling exploded into an inability to move, I began to wonder if something was wrong.

Ginchan at nap

Chapter 4. Sick but Busy

Suddenly new words began to pop up in our everyday speech. Lockdown, quarantine, shelter in place, social distancing, isolate, the new normal. In every newscast, we heard the term unprecedented, which, according to the dictionary, meant never done or known before.

 

More Illustrated Posts coming soon!

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BLOGS I LOVE: Erin the Literary Cat

Erin the Literary Cat
Adventures & Book Reviews in Middle Grade Fiction

Where do I start?

Doing a series featuring my favorite blogs is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, because what’s better than sharing something we love? But there are so many wonderful blogs out there in blogland, I wasn’t sure where to begin. The Alice in Wonderland quote, “’Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, very gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop,’” doesn’t apply here, since there is no beginning—just a lot of great blogs on various subjects that appeal to me and that I thought might appeal to you.

So for Blog 1, I chose to spotlight one of my favorite cats, Erin the Cat Princess, and her new series featuring Adventures & Book Reviews in Middle Grade Fiction.

Erin is one savvy cat. Her posts not only give an exceptionally readable review of a middle-grade adventure book (often but not always involving a cat) but she fills us in on the goings-on in her village of Upper Much-Mousing, the UK. Reviews are often preceded by a spirited conversation between Erin and her person, Mrs. H. One never knows what they might find to discuss in that cozy little burg!

I’ve always loved children’s and young adult fiction, from the time I was a child myself. My grandmother was a librarian and collected many rare copies. My fascination with these types of stories has never stopped. Illustrated or plain text, I find the imagination of the authors to be the next best thing to fantasy, and sometimes better!

Erin’s descriptions and reviews have been great fun for me. So many titles I’ve never read before! And sometimes ERin gifts us a story of her own, such as this short B-Movie gangster style tale which are guaranteed to feature cats!

The Adventures & Book Reviews in Middle Grade Fiction Blog: Easy to follow Layout

Erin’s reviews are chock full of information but easy to read. She carefully lists all the info for the book before the actual review, including author, illustrator, publisher, publish date, number of pages, genre, and whether there are any dogs and/or cats in the story. She also tells if there are any spoilers in the review.

After a concise summary, she gives her thoughts on the book. She ends with a lovely selfie of her beautiful black and white self.

Whether you like middle-grade stories or you just want to check out what’s going on in Upper Much-Mousing, this blog site is for you.

Photos of Erin the Literary Cat (and Cat Princess) were used with the permission of Erin’s legal representatives. Please do not reproduce without her permission.

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FELIZ ANIVERSARIO PARA MI!

Today is my anniversary!

Or I really should say, my husband’s and mine, because I couldn’t have done it without him. Twenty-seven years! Who would have guessed?

On this day nearly three decades ago in sunny Las Vegas, Jim and I stepped into a wedding chapel and were married. There was no Elvis or Klingons-just a well-spoken officiator and his enthusiastic assistant. We stood underneath a trellis of not-too-badly made silk flowers, me in my silver lamé mini-dress and Jim in his Hawaiian shirt, and said, “I do.”

Much has happened in the intervening years. Better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, just like our vows promised. We traveled to the Grand Canyon and volunteered at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. We watched the space shuttle Columbia launch, commanded by an astronaut I met later at a Star Trek convention. We went skiing in Montana where I learned that, as romantic as it might sound, skiing is basically a glorified form of slipping. I didn’t like it. But the thing we did most often on our anniversary day, the thing we still do, is go to Mazatlán, Mexico for two weeks rest and relaxation in the sun.

We have been to the beautiful seaside city enough times over the years we’ve begun to know the town. One of our favorite places in the central market where we can buy fresh tropical fruit and vegetables. There is nothing like having a whole ripe papaya to ourselves!

Sometimes when we go, it’s right before the Winter Carnival and the city is full of decorations like this glorious cat head.

We also love the tilework that is everywhere. This is the closeup of a bench beside a Ficus tree with many intertwined roots not far from our resort.

The bands that cruise the beaches playing for tips always include a tuba or two.

Well, the sun has set over the vast Pacific, and it’s time to go down to dinner. Fresh lobster, chili rellenos, ensalada de aguacate, and Mexican pastries for desert! Thanks for joining us  for this year’s celebración de aniversario, everyone!

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FLASH DRIVES: I Don’t Need To Go Outside

FLASH DRIVES: Flash narratives and random contemplations imagined while driving from one place to another.

I don’t need to go outside—I’m already there.

In a park, firs tall above my head, maples shedding golden leaves.

On a street awash with cherry blossom petals.

On a farm.

In a secret garden.

I’m gathering fallen chestnuts at the Old Pioneer Cemetery.

I’m breathing the fresh salt air of Botanical Bay.

I’m dancing with mayhem.

I’m anywhere I’ve ever been and anywhere I want to be.

Safe inside.

 

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FIRST CHAPTERS: There’s a Cat Hair in My Mask: How Cats Helped me through Unprecedented Times

There’s a Cat Hair in My Mask:

How Cats Helped me through Unprecedented Times – a COVID memoir

“Cat Hair” was a labor of love/hate. It was a story I needed to tell, didn’t want to tell, didn’t want to think about, could think about nothing else. It was funny, scary, heartwarming, disturbing, and at times downright dangerous. When I finished it, I wasn’t sure I wanted to publish. Then everyone would know! But I went ahead and put it out there, because that’s what writers do.

I got my first review today. She writes:

This book is a memoir about one woman’s battle with depression and anxiety and how she helps cats and they in turn help her… took me two days to read, not because it was short but because it was both readable and fascinating. —Verified Reviewer

 

1. In the Beginning

When the coronavirus COVID-19 hit the world like a blistering shitstorm, I was living in an old house in Portland, Oregon with my husband and three cats. It was the beginning of February 2020, and Jim and I had just returned from our annual vacation in Mexico. I don’t remember hearing anything about a pandemic as we watched the glorious sunrises and sunsets from our beachfront suite on Cabo San Lucas. The only American horror story I knew of was our explosive political situation. Even with the devious mind of a mystery writer, I would never have imagined what was to come.

Nice as it was to hang out in warmer climes and eat fresh fruit and enchiladas, I was happy to get home. The flight, the airports, and the interminable line at customs were grueling. By the time I arrived in the dark, cold, rainy Pacific Northwest, I was exhausted.

We’d hired an excellent live-in cat sitter for the week we were gone, and the cats weren’t upset with us when we returned. Fact was, they probably had more fun with Jenn, who I’m sure lavished constant affection on the little clowder. It was wonderful to see them again. That night, as I went to bed with cats snuggled around me, I slept well.

As with most vacations, the return was fraught with undone chores and catch-up. I plunged headfirst into answering emails, planning promotion for my new book, and writing, as well as restocking cupboards, watering plants, and so on. I could feel the anxiety rising and wondered, as I always did after a holiday, if this heartless jerk back into reality was really worth the few days of relaxation.

Jim liked to watch the evening news. Unless he was working, every day between five and six o’clock, he sat down in the green easy chair we inherited from his father and clicked on the television. He was arbitrary about stations except for FOX, which was infamous for its politically skewed reporting. He refused to watch that one. The others were probably skewed as well, but skewed to our own point of view, so that worked.

During our time in Mexico, we hadn’t kept up with the goings-on in the States. We figured they could get along without us, and us without them for a while. That was our traditional modus operandi while on a trip, with the exception of Mazatlán in January 2017. On that one, we found ourselves glued in horror to our TV screens and mobile devices as the new President a flurry of executive orders that systematically stripped our country of things we’d worked so hard to achieve. But that’s another story—this one is about a different tragedy or, I should say, a series of tragedies that knocked us on our collective asses like fallen dominos. And this story is about cats.

So there was Jim, watching the news. The first segment was all politics and disaster: the upcoming presidential primaries; Trump’s impeachment trial and disappointing acquittal; another mass shooting, bringing the number up to twenty-eight just this year. Then it switched to reports of a deadly virus that had taken hold in China and was now making a jump to other countries including the U.S. Its origin was still unknown—a zoonotic disease, transmitted from animals such as bats or pangolins? A bioweapon of mass destruction from some secret Chinese lab? Who knew? The news anchor speculated, as they do, on the worst-case scenario. That was the first time I heard the word pandemic, outside of history or dystopian fiction. Little did I know that one word would become commonplace, used everywhere by everyone around the world.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes pandemic thus: “An outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area such as multiple countries or continents and typically affects a significant proportion of the population.” I didn’t pay much attention. I knew the news media latched onto anything that made a good story—they would go to any lengths to get people to watch. A simple winter storm was elevated to a snow-pocalypse; a political protest became a rampage. That’s how they made their money. I assumed this pandemic scare would be no different and went off to make dinner for the cats.

Click to purchase There’s a Cat Hair in My Mask: How Cats Helped me through Unprecedented Times for Kindle or in Paperback. For a signed copy of this or any other of my books, email me at molliehuntcatwriter@gmail.com with “Signed Book” in the subject line.

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IT’S A GREAT YEAR TO REUSE YOUR OLD CALENDAR!

What do 2023, 2017, 2006, 1995, and 1989 have in common?

Turns out that date-wise, they have everything in common. Those years and many more are exactly the same. I learned this by checking a Perpetual Calendar, a list that uses algorithms to compute the day of the week for any given year, month, and day of month. With a Perpetual Calendar, you can figure out which years are the same as the current one.

2006 Homemade calendar of my cats.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Ff you’re like me with a drawer full of old calendars to pretty or meaningful to throw away, you can bring them out to reuse again. 2023 is an especially compatible year, with several options from the near-past from which to choose.

2017 Page-a-day Desk Calendar

2017 House of Dreams Calendar with sweet Angel Snowball before she got the infection that left her with airplane ears.

Want to learn more about reusing old calendars? Read my blogpost from 2021, SAVING MONEY WITH THE PERPETUAL CALENDAR, here.

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Who Are The Cat Writers’ Association? NINA NEEFE

My guest today on Who Are The Cat Writers’ Association is Sherri “Nina” Neefe, a retired title insurance manager who discovered her real passion when she became Nina to her four grandchildren. 

Relocating with her husband from San Diego to Northern California, they settled in and adopted two adorable kittens from their local Animal Shelter. Simon is a Blue Point Siamese, and Mulan is a Flame Point, and the two of them quickly became the catalyst for Nina’s Cat Tales.

Nina enjoys camping, gardening, movies, biking and being the family “archivist” creating photobook and YouTube video memories for her entire clan. Her love of “kitties and kiddies” and the true story of Mulan’s frightening “escape” inspired her first children’s book, “Mulan’s Big Adventure.”

Tell us a bit about your writing, Nina.

I write whimsical cat picture books in lyrical Seussian rhyme. They are mainly for children, but cat and animal lovers of all ages can enjoy them! My books are different than traditional children’s books because my illustrations are real pet photos which are digitally transformed to fit the story.

How do cats inspire your creativity?

My cats ARE my total inspiration for my journey as a children’s book author. That’s how I accidentally began writing—when our new little kitten, Mulan, “escaped” and was missing for three grueling nights… I told the story of “Mulan’s Big Adventure” to my four grandchildren one evening as a bedtime story. They were mesmerized and emotional with the ups and downs of the true tale, so I thought I’d put it together into a storybook for them with photographs of the cats. When family and friends saw the book, they wanted copies and said I should publish it, so I did!

  1. Did you grow up with cats?

I never had a cat until I was 42 years old! Growing up, my parents were dog people. For some reason, I thought I hated cats because I was allergic to them. My daughter is the one who brought cats into my life when she was a teenager. She begged me to let her get a kitten. After weeks of begging, sulking, and peer pressure from everyone around me, I gave in—on the condition that she kept the cat in her room (since I was allergic). The first night she brought little Calvin home, she asked me to babysit him while she went out for a bit with friends. Of course, I was hooked from that day one. Now I’m the CAT LADY in the family LOL!

  1. What is your earliest memory of being around cats?

Some friends had cats, but I always had to avoid them because they made me sneeze.

  1. What crosses your mind when someone tells you they don’t like cats?

I say, “So did I until I got one!!!”

  1. What do your cats think of you?

Our sweet and petite little female, Mulan, thinks I am a recliner chair 🙂    Simon thinks I’m his best friend and he demands my attention ALL of the time!

  1. If you were a cat, what would you be like?

I would love to be massaged, but I would definitely cherish my alone time. Cat naps would be cat-tastical!

  1. If you were a cat, what breed would you be?

Probably Siamese since I’m part Asian!

Nina can be found on social media @NinasCatTales.

WEBSITE  https://www.ninascattales.com

FACEBOOK  https://www.facebook.com/NinasCatTales

INSTAGRAM  https://www.instagram.com/ninascattales/

TWITTER: @ninas_cat_tales https://twitter.com/ninascattales

LINKED IN:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sherrineefe/

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/rsneefe/ninas-cat-tales/

AMAZON AUTHOR Profile https://www.amazon.com/Nina-Neefe/e/B088P8TYDG/

GOODREADS Author: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20414203.Nina_Neefe

YOUTUBE CAT TALES  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQG6KRRZy2fHXP9OKhgoCAtcr68hDU1

 

 

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WHAT CATS TEACH US: The Cat Book Of Life Strategies

My memoir is published!

As the days turn longer and the holidays are almost behind us, my memoir, “There’s a Cat Hair in My Mask: How Cats Helped Me through Unprecedented Times” is quietly launching. It is my story, a tale of a plague and politics, of depression and inspiration, but mostly of cats.

In February 2020, the world changed forever. In April 2021, my life took on new meaning when I rescued a cat who was sentenced to die. A lot happened in between. The story weaves the unprecedented events of those fourteen months with personal experiences and remembrances—a childhood filled with nameless fear; growing up into the hippie sixties; a happy marriage against all odds. “There were cats then too—I wouldn’t have made it through without them.”

“Cat Hair” is an ode to the power of the human-feline bond and the very real and healing presence of cats. I saved them while they saved me. These are some of the things I learned along the way.

Photo by Rishabh Dharmani on Unsplash

What Cats Teach Us: The Cat Book Of Life Strategies

A compilation of inspirational quotes from my new memoir, There’s a Cat Hair in My Mask: How Cats Helped Me through Unprecedented Times.

 

Live in the moment.

“I often find myself needing to ground my emotions, and it helps to take a time out to think like a cat: What’s happening right now? What are things over which I have no control? What must I put aside? What can I do right now to make things better?”

Just breathe.

“When I was depressed or tired or sad, Blaze would come to lie down with me. If I wasn’t already on the couch, he would entice me there. Then he would get up on top of me, his nose to mine, and breathe, just breathe.

Of course he was breathing—all living animals breathe—but it seemed more than that. He was leading me by his example. If I just tuned my breaths to his, I would be alright.”

~Angel Blaze~

Progress, not perfection.

“Blaze was a bit of an awkward cat, not the kind who could navigate a shelf of breakables without accidentally nudging one off. It might have had to do with his fractured arm and the six months it took him to heal, or maybe he was like that before. Either way, it was an endearing trait, reminding me we don’t need to be perfect to be loved. I loved him with all my heart, just the way he was.”

Rest is good.

“The minute I lay down on the couch, Blaze would appear out of nowhere to come rest with me. Cats are so good at resting. I’m sure in cat language, there must be at least twenty different words for sleep.”

~Prom Date~

Choose life.

“The cats, each in their own way, urged me through my low points. They showed me by their stoic example that life was meant to be lived to the fullest, day to day. Prom Date, in spite of a painful and debilitating injury, was always cheerful and glad to see me. Tyler greeted each morning with energy and enthusiasm. Blaze, in his shy-boy way, let love guide him through. Ginchan, who suffered multiple life-threatening issues, persevered—that was his nature.

Watching him sleeping peacefully in a sun-spot or curled up in his cube helped me to understand we have a choice. We can mope or fear or whine, or we can do something we enjoy, something that makes us healthy in mind and body, something that can be of help to others. We can put aside things we can’t change and concentrate on what we can.”

Take care of yourself.

“In our society, we, especially women, are taught to put others first—our partners, our children, even our mundane jobs. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we expect to care for others? Our first great responsibility is to stay healthy, which entails, to some degree, being happy and satisfied with our lives. From that place of confidence, we can reach out to those around us and make the world a better place. It’s not selfishness—it’s self-respect.”

Photo by Jana Shnipelson on Unsplash

Roll with the punches.

“I once had a cat, Atilla who, as he got older, slowly lost his sight. I didn’t realize until I took him in for a checkup, and the doctor asked me if I knew my cat was blind. I’d had no idea. Atilla continued functioning the same as he always did. Cats are stoic. They accept their changes.”

Move on from tragedy.

“I had Barry with me for a mere six days, but his will to thrive remains in my heart and mind forever. In spite of having endured terrible experiences, unending pain, and life in a hopeless situation, he was ready to change and learn. His love (and curiosity) overcame the ordeals of his past.”

Be yourself.

“Cats don’t require social niceties. Living with cats had shown me I didn’t have to put on airs. I only needed to be myself because really that’s all I was and ever would be.”

Photo by Yaopey Yong on Unsplash

Take a time-out.

“The week at the beach doing nothing had allowed my anxiety and depression to recede. Often that’s what it took. Better than medication, better than therapists—a period of time spent in seclusion, not burdening my mind with have-to-do’s and should-do’s, keeping the outside stress to a minimum and vanquishing inside stress with meditation, prayer, and whatever else it took to feel whole again. Cats teach us these things every day of their lives.”

Be your own center.

“Look at a cat as he relaxes into a nap. Watch his body language and listen to his breathing. Tyler is a perfect example. After years as a street stray, he’s always very much aware of himself, whether he’s awake and running zoomies around the house or enjoying one of his many daily naps. He is his own center. He takes care of himself. If he needs sleep, he sleeps; if he needs exercise, he runs, jumps, and plays. If he needs companionship, he gets up beside me and curls into a warm, purring ball.”

Worry is a waste.

“Cats don’t worry the way humans do. Though Tyler carries the memories of hard times, he doesn’t bring them forward into today. Today he slits his eyes and settles to rest, acknowledging the safety of his immediate surroundings. He hasn’t forgotten there is danger in the world; he’s merely accepted that today is not dangerous.”

We all have bad times.

“The fourth of February was a day of mourning for me and always would be, but instead of letting it make me feel defeated and small, I concentrated on Jaimz’s needs. There was a correlation between my and Jaimz’s misfortunes. We’d both endured horrific physical and mental damage, but Jaimz showed me how to accept it. Tragedy is part of life—for everyone.”

Resilience is strength.

“With love and time, Jaimz regained his equilibrium and was a happy cat once more. His ability to bounce back was remarkable and set a precedent that I felt dutybound to follow.”

~Jaimz~

Wishing you many cats and much hope as we paw our way into a new year.

 

 

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THREE PINES: A Not-Review

Amazon’s Three Pines: Masterpiece or Travesty?

I consider mystery writer Louise Penny nothing short of a genius when it comes to her fiction stories, so when I heard there was going to be an Amazon Prime film adaptation of her Gamache series, I was excited. I couldn’t wait and tuned into the trailer for Three Pines as soon as it aired.

Then I began to watch.

That’s not Gamache, I said to myself when actor Alfred Molina came on the screen, but I wanted to give it a chance, so I continued on. A new stranger took the stage, a character whom I didn’t recognize at all. Next was the old poet Ruth, obvious only by the duck in her arms, but aside from the bird, I saw little of Ruth Zardo in the meticulously-disheveled actress made up to look like a Hallmark Movie’s idea of old.

A thought began to form in my head—Maybe this series is not for me after all.

I’m not saying it’s bad. The ratings have been excellent, and besides, I can’t begin to judge its quality by that clipped minute of the trailer. But for those of us who love Penny’s work, who have read every one of her eighteen books and wait excitedly for the next, Three Pines might not make the grade.

Penny’s Gamache books are multi-layered, image-filled, and as beautifully tuned as a violin string. Her words ring like poetry that can’t help but create vivid images in the reader’s mind. Unless done by a filmmaker with equal genius, as well as an empathetic understanding of Penny’s work, any attempt to make the series into a movie would be understandably two-dimensional.

I haven’t watched the show, so I could be wrong about Three Pines. Maybe, like the Hobbit movies, it manages to portray the aura of the books. Or maybe it takes a different but equally as brilliant approach as did the Battlestar Galactica remake and the new Sherlock. Maybe someday I will decide to watch it.

So don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and enjoy this incarnation of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Three Pines, Quebec. But please, read the books too.

“You have to be able to separate the books (they are the greatest mystery books ever written) from the TV series.  If you can, I think you will love it…” —IMDb Reviewer

You can find more about Louise Penny’s bestselling and award winning book series as well as about Amazon Prime’s Three Pines here.

 

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Who Are The Cat Writers’ Association? MARY TURZILLO

My guest today on Who Are The Cat Writers’ Association is science fiction writer (& fencer) Mary Turzillo.

Mary, what can you tell us about your amazing writing career?

I publish science fiction, fantasy, and horror, in magazines like Analog, Space and Time, or The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I have always been very fond of cats, starting with Little Lightning, the black kitten my mother murdered.

Wow, that’s terrible about your kitten! I wonder if that’s what started you on the path to sci-fi and horror writing? How do you think cats inspire your creativity now?

I feel their personalities, and I love to include them as characters in my work (although not all of my stories actually include cats). I am also fascinated with the scientific research on cats. One of my stories, “Steak Tartare and the Cats of Gari Babakin,” now in my Cosmic Cats & Fantastic Furballs story collection from WordFire, riffs on the unusual psychological effects of toxoplasmosis, which alters the brains of rats and also the personalities of human beings. 

They also inspire me by sitting on shoulders while I’m writing. Warm. Comforting. Bossy.

What do you enjoy about belonging to CWA?

I am just delighted with the writers I’ve met and the new work that I learn about by the writers. Also, I learn so much about cat behavior, literature, history. And I have acquired so much knowledge from workshops. I wish I’d joined, and participated, years ago!

Please answer any of the following questions. You may be as brief, wordy, serious, humorous, or creative as you wish.

  1. Did you grow up with cats?

As I mentioned above, my sister, Jane Turzillo (also an author) and I had a black kitten we called Little Lightning. A real estate agent, trying to sell my parents a home, gave him to us.  He was so sweet. We adored him. We had no idea how to take care of him. I believe we tried to feed him corn on the cob.  My grandmother must have stepped in and taken care somehow. 

My mother had him euthanized because he got the zoomies, and, well, she didn’t like cats. Even though her middle name was Leonia. And even though she had personally had a kitten named CreamPuff when she was a child. Brrrr.

2. What crosses your mind when someone tells you they don’t like cats?

I feel sorry for them. And a little distrustful. A friend of mine has an aphorism: “Men who don’t like cats also don’t like women.”

3. What does your cat think of you? 

What a fun question!  Scaramouche thinks I am a mean cat-mommy because I won’t stop making human dinner to play fishpole with him. He also thinks it’s appropriate for him to jump up on the bathroom sink and demand that I brush his teeth, even though he hates having his teeth brushed. I have no idea why he has this love-hate relationship with cat toothpaste. 

4. Tell us a true cat story. 

“SWISHY” by Mary Turzillo

            The roadkilled pizza box lies scrunched, part flattened by tire treads.  Late for class, you see pink-gray petal-pointy ears.  You slam on brakes.

            You will hit the horn but the lid of the box will only stir and when you roll down the window you hear heartbroken tiny screams and thinking oh, how could they? you jam the car in park.

            The kitten will scream louder now he sees you and when you move the box, you see he is bleeding, hind quarters maybe paralyzed.

            Avoiding filthy brown and bloody smears you scoop him onto the box lid and he will scream at you help me! leave me alone! you’re killing me! help help HELP!

            Okay, the blood later turns out to be pizza sauce.

            And even later, after his miraculous cure by leftover swordfish, it will it occur to you that he sent out for you, had you boxed and delivered, and he gets to keep the tip.

5. Tell us a fictional cat story.

“Dinosaurs May Be Ancestors of More than Birds”

Paleontologist Dr. Felix Stalker today unveiled three specimens thought to prey on ancestors of birds.

“Logic says,” according to Stalker, “where there’s birds, there’s got to be cats.”

First specimen: Acatasaurus. Originally thought vegetarian, this long-necked ancestor of the Siamese probably fed on early fish. Early aquariums may be discovered on future digs.

Second: Velocimouser. This quick-witted swift catosaur captured prey by silent stalking, then pouncing. Clever and voracious, it may have gone extinct because caught off guard taking naps after dismembering small mammals.

Most controversial specimen: Purranosaurus Rex. Note long, rapacious teeth. Also called Thunder Catosaur because of low rumbling sound emitted after devouring prey or shredding furniture. Small front limbs may not have been as useless as they look.

Dr. Stalker showed bone fragments of other catosaurs “too early to categorize,” he said. “But tentatively named Triwhiskerops (note pointed structures either side its head), Meowasaurus, good mother catosaur, Prrtadactyl, Kittycoatlus, and Architsbackterix, evolutionary blind alleys nature abandoned when catosaurs found they could not leap forty feet. And finally the ancestor of the domestic feline: Ankylorubbosaur.

Dr. Stalker plans next summer to seek fossils of a species believed to prey on catosaurs: the Fidonychus.

(This story originally appeared as a poem in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine)

6. What cat-themed item is sitting on your desk right now?

An 18 inch aluminum cat & kitten sculpture by Don Drumm, Akron sculptor, known for many awards, but also for having one of the National Guard bullets punch through a steel sculpture by him (Solar Totem #10) at Kent State May 4, 1970. Don Drumm does lots of cat sculptures.

7. What is one thing you will only do in front of your cats?

Come on! If I won’t tell anybody else, would I really put this out on the web???

Mahsamahtman, who is now part of the feline shadow world

8. Does cat love run in your family?

Not really. My sister likes cats, but she only owns dogs. And my mother despised them.

9. What famous cat or cat person have you met?

I was privileged to be in a workshop run by Blind Homer’s mom, the brilliant and amazing Gwen Cooper. This was another perk of being in CWA.

My husband and I also are friends with Nnedi Okorafor. Nnedi is a prolific author, including Who Fears Death, and graphic novel Black Panther: Long Live the King.  I’m waiting for her Space Cats, with Tana Ford, featuring her real-life cats, Siamese Pumpernickel Pickle Periwinkle Chukwu, and her Sphynx, Neptune.

10. Do your cats get along with each other?

Yes! On my birthday in 2016, my husband Geoff Landis told me he wanted to give me a kitten for my birthday. We searched and searched. We wanted a fairly young kitten, preferably mixed breed. The rescue organizations all had kittens that weren’t quite ready, plus they (sensibly, I know) want to neuter them before offering them to forever homes. I have read that it’s best to wait until the cat is about five or six months old (one of my son’s cats, Tyrael the Spanish Inquisitor, was neutered too young and had urinary problems his whole life).

We finally found a litter of kittens who had been born in a dresser drawer in an abandoned house. Two were marmalade toms. Both seemed to be the friendliest of the batch. We cuddled each (the black female was having none of us) and I looked up at my husband and said, “Couldn’t we take two of them?”

How could he resist? 

We took the two home and they were INSEPARABLE. The second week, one of them wandered away for awhile, and his brother cried inconsolably until we reunited them.  They had been together FROM CONCEPTION.

Today, six years later, they have a ritual: Scaramouche tries to mount Samurai or bite one of his ears, they fight, then they fall to grooming each other. It is so DANG CUTE!

I always tell people, adopt litter-mates, if you can.

11. What would your life be without cats?

I shudder to think.

12. Have you ever seen a ghost cat?

Maybe. I’m definitely a believer.

13. “Adopt, Foster, Volunteer, Donate, Educate” is a common slogan for animal rescue. What do you like to do?

Educate. Proselytize.

14. How would you identify your cat in a lineup?

T Marmalade cats all look very similar.  I can tell Samurai from Scaramouche most of the time, but it’s only by the crook of Scar’s tail and the size of the white medallion under their chins. But they are chipped. So I would have to take them to a vet. But I do think they would come to me. Without being called. 

15. What is your favorite cat-song?

My husband and I have a cat play-list. I won’t post the whole thing, but here are two:

“Delilah,” by Freddie Mercury

“Gatto Matto” by Roberto Angelini

MY CATS:

  • Scaramouche: Orange tom. Very smart, can solve lots of problems. But goofy. Wants very much to play with me, especially if I’m busy. He’s the dominant of the pair. 
  • Samurai: Orange tom, a little darker coat, a little chubbier than his brother. Laid back. Also quite intelligent, but a goofball. Likes to sit on my husband. But then, they are both real cuddle buddies.  

My neighbor’s, kitten, Oscar. He is now a huge snarly, slippery misanthrope

 

You can find Mary at http://www.maryturzillo.com/

and in Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Turzillo

 

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