I’m super excited to introduce my next guest on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? Not only is Amy Shojai one of the founding members of the CWA, but she has been active in the organization since 1992. Hers was a vision of a place cat people and the general public could find good information about cats. Since then, and with the help of members like Amy, CWA has grown to encompass “a wide variety of (cat-themed) talent, supporting evolving mediums and platforms such as Fine Arts, Journalism, Social Media, Graphic Design, Writing, Radio, Television, Videography, Podcasts, Websites, Blogs, Photography, Illustration, Cartoons, and so much more!”—About CWA, the CWA Website
Amy, tell us a bit about your writing career.
I write prescriptive nonfiction books and blogs. To date, I’ve had about 35+ books published (traditionally and now independent). I also write blogs/articles for several clients, including FearFreePets.com, ReadersDigest.com, and other major pet product companies.
Switching creative hats, I also write music and am a produced/published playwright. One show, STRAYS, THE MUSICAL, channels your “inner cat and dog” to share how pets perceive their world. Also, I’ve launched a pet-centric thriller series that features a PTSD service dog, and a trained cat that tracks lost kitties. Each of the books in the thriller series includes winners of a NAME THAT CAT/DOG contest, nominated by readers, so the reader’s pet becomes one of the heroes in the story line. Oh, I also have a home recording studio and voice my own audiobooks. Guess I’m a control freak!
Now for four extremely arbitrary questions. ..
- How do cats inspire your creativity?
Cats (and dogs) gave me my career. I first worked as a veterinary technician. My first experiences in vet clinics, helping to treat cats (or even assist in surgery), inspired my first published work in the “pet press.” I didn’t have a cat, but loved interacting with cat patients. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I wrote dozens of personal experience stories about the cats at the clinic. I yearned for a community of colleagues who wrote on similar topics, and didn’t laugh at me for focusing on felines and canines. Cats inspired me to write and gave me my first publishing bylines. Ultimately, cats inspired the idea of forming the CWA.
I’ve always felt fascinated by animal behavior, wanting not just to recognize what a behavior means but WHY an animal acts/reacts in certain ways. That inspired me to pursue become a certified animal behavior consultant. Now the more I know about them, the more they inspire my work. In fiction and plays, I felt inspired to speak in their “voice” in a way I never thought possible when I first started this journey.
2. Have you taken a cat first aid course?
I worked as a vet tech for several years and learned a lot on the job. One of my best-selling books covers the topic: The First-Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats. A couple of years ago, I also updated my knowledge when I took a course with Arden Moore. I highly recommend her course!
3. Where are you sitting right now? From where you are, how many cat-themed objects can you see? How many cats?
I’m standing in front of my desk (I have a desk/treadmill), in my home office. My Karma-Kat has stretched out on the floor at my feet. Cat-themed objects? Ooooh so many, let’s see:
6 cat paintings
Mirror with cats climbing on it (the Fear Free award *s*)
2 big cat statues
Cat-theme ceramic glass
Various glass or wood carved cat figurines (about 9…one for each life?)
Lifelike calico Persian stuffie
And a couple of cat-theme rings (I can’t seem my earrings, but there, too)
4. What’s the craziest thing your cat’s ever done?
My first cat, Seren-Kitty, used to answer my phone. Back in the day of landlines, if left alone in my office, she’d hook a paw under the receiver when the phone rang. I had more than one editor tell me a cat meowed an answer when they called. I also had to shove an empty box over the top of my fax machine, because Seren liked to stand on top and make the buttons beep. She’d take the fax offline, and I missed several important messages before I figured it out.
Tell us a bit about your cats. (I love this picture so much!)
Seren-Kitty(rb) was a petite warrior cat, a Siamese wannabe with blue jean-colored eyes. She lived nearly to age 22. My current kitty muse, Karma-Kat, boasts a chunky man-cat physique. He’s a silver shaded tabby with blue eyes and the sweetest disposition, and just celebrated his ninth birthday. He adores dogs.
Find out more about Amy Shojai: