What was your inspiration behind the book?
When I heard that The Dalai Lama used to have a cat, it sparked my imagination. I began thinking about what an amazing life the cat must lead – all those fascinating people that come to visit His Holiness – the celebrities, the world leaders, the meditation masters. Imagine what intriguing conversations our feline friend would overhear! And what must it be like living with The Dalai Lama, whose simple presence is enough to make you melt with happiness? That really was the start of the idea.
What was the most rewarding part about writing the book?
I love cats and I am also an enthusiastic, if not especially proficient, Buddhist practitioner. Being able to combine both of these passions in a single book was a wonderful opportunity.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
What do you enjoy doing on your free time?
I meditate a fair bit and also enjoy traveling – both in my imagination, through the books I read, as well as venturing to other countries. I am originally from Africa, lived in London for 10 years, and am now based in Australia. I feel it is one of the great privileges of being alive at this time that it has never been more possible to experience different cultures and ways of life.
Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
I have always been an animal lover and wanted to be a vet until my teenage years. Growing up in Africa, as well as the usual family dogs, cat, rabbit, guinea pig and cockatiels, I also had the chance to get up close and personal with lion cubs, baby elephants, warthogs and other wildlife working at our local lion and cheetah park. Since moving to Perth, my wife and I have been adopted by two cats, one a gorgeous Himalayan, on whom the mischievous Dalai Lama’s Cat is based, and the other a magnificent mackeral tabby, who also makes an appearance in the book.
What is your favorite thing about cats?
I love the fact that they are both discriminating and enigmatic. When a cat becomes your friend it isn’t just because you feed her or give her a home. It’s because she chooses to trust you. That is a great honor!
Are you planning on writing more books?
I am already busy on a sequel to The Dalai Lama’s Cat.
If you could tell your readers one thing, what would it be?
As little Snow Lion learns from The Dalai Lama, the best way to achieve happiness for yourself is to give happiness to others. This is the paradox of being wisely selfish.