What was your inspiration behind the book?
A girlfriend inspired me — actually, she dared me — to write this book. I was interested in telling the story of how I rescued 10 cats, and how these innocent, loving creatures helped me to find my true, unexpected calling in life.
What was the most rewarding part about writing the book?
Even though I never kept a diary when I embarked on my cat-rescuing mission, I was pleasantly surprised by how many details I remembered about taming, domesticating and ultimately adopting each of our 10 cats. Since the book was published, I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting fellow feline enthusiasts and hearing about their cats. In many ways, my chronicles are their own stories, too. We all speak the same language. I also am pleased to be partnering with animal-rescue organizations in Houston and giving back a portion of my personal proceeds to their causes.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
I work full time as the publications director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and we have a demanding schedule of producing illustrated art books. I was juggling the responsibility of editing and coordinating books by scholars with that of trying to bring my own book project to life. But, I had a strict, self-imposed writing schedule, and I discovered that writing early in the mornings and on weekends was a successful formula for me.
Share your process for selecting illustration for the book.
The illustrations in the book feature the work of various artists. The lovely endpapers and chapter openers are the work of Gabriella Gallerani, a Milan-based artist who drew pencil portraits based on my digital (strictly amateur) photos of our cats. I enjoyed doing photo research to find artworks of cats (often with their ladies), and many of these works come from famous museum collections worldwide. I chose some obvious fan favorites, but I also picked my own favorites to provide another window into my “worldview of felines!” I like to think that I assembled a mini-art gallery on paper of diverse felines that parallels my having brought together cats from all walks of life in Houston’s neighborhoods.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I spend a lot of time caring for our cats! In many ways, I consider being a Cat Lady my second career. If the cats give me some time off, I like to go antiquing and also to hunt for treasures in resale shops. I love vintage fashion. I also am hoping to catch up soon on reading a number of books that have been sitting on my bedside table for far too long.
Tell us about your pets!
Each one of our cats has a distinct personality. Lucius is the brooding alpha male, pure and simple. Lydia is a talkative, self-centered female who likes for “the guys” to worship her, which works well because she is the only girl kitty in our house. Leo is a soulful creature, shy and endearing. L.B. is, as I write in my book, a man’s man. He enjoys watching NFL football, honestly! Linus belongs on a cover of CAT FANCY because he is so adorable and one of the sweetest cats I have ever encountered. Alvar is a beautiful, exotic cat who bravely made his way into our already established multi-pet household. That’s the gang in the house proper. In the garage apartment, the bewitching Lillie has never relinquished her birthright as the extremely protective mama kitty of T.J., Perkins, and Miss Tommie. All four of these cats are quiet, non-demanding and grateful to have their own kitty pad.
What is your favorite thing about cats?
Cats have so many qualities that I admire: their never-a-hair-out-of-place appearance, their survivor’s instinct and their silent means of communicating. My favorite thing is that they are extremely focused, and I am inspired by their ability to zoom in on everything.
Are you planning on writing more books?
I have a number of ideas percolating in my head. It is very important to me to watch the Cat Lady Nation grow!
If you could tell your readers one thing, what would it be?
It’s a good thing to be a Cat Lady, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!