Traveling Dog Lady

Friday, November 2, 2018

Cat Café Book Launch Blog Hop

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I did receive a free copy of Mollie Hunt's new e-book Cat Café The 5th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery so I could write this interview and book review. 


Hello dearest readers! It sure has been a long time since I've posted, and I have much to tell... but not today!

Today, I am grateful to Mollie Hunt for including me in her blog hop to launch her latest book Cat Café - The 5th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery  featuring crazy cat lady, shelter volunteer and super sleuth, Lynley Cannon, and her mom, Carol, of course, as trouble brews at a Portland, Oregon tea house, and of course they eventually solve a mystery.  Here's a synopsis of the plot line:

Sixty-something cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon always finds more trouble than a cat in catnip, but this time it’s not about her. Someone is targeting very senior citizens, and when Bea Landrew, elderly owner of the Blue Cat café turns up dead, Lynley’s mom Carol could be next.
Handsome Detective Devon is looking for a link between the victims when he makes a different sort of connection— with Lynley! It’s been a long time since the cat lady had romance in her life, but while her mom is in danger, the case comes first.
It appears the cat café will go the way of its deceased owner, but Bea’s grandson, a slick Miami businessman, steps in at the last minute. Arthur is not a cat person so why would he bother? Romeo, the big Russian Blue, senses ulterior motives, but who will listen to a cat?

A black cat rescue, an antique photograph, an elaborate payback. Is this killer seeking justice or vengeance? With death as the objective, the results are the same.



Cat Café launched October 29th, and I urge you to leap off your window perch and get it as soon as you can. I honestly couldn't put it down. I spent a couple weeks reading it at night in bed, and let me tell you it was tempting to read it all in one sitting, but I savored it, like a good cup of tea.

I had the disadvantage of not having read the previous four books in the series (where have I been?), but it didn't matter because Mollie writes in such a way that you can pick up the book and just pounce right on into the story. Mollie herself even says the books need not be read in order.

If you haven't read them already, I encourage everyone to grab all FIVE books, cuddle up with your favorite feline, and start reading. Winter is coming, after all. Hey, maybe a great holiday gift for somebody to give you!

Here are links to the first four books, available on Amazon:

Cats' Eyes (Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery Series Book 1) Look what the cat dragged in! When Lynley’s old kitty Fluffo discovers a stolen uncut diamond, Lynley finds herself accused of murdering the thieves.

Copy Cats (Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery Series Book 2)  When Lynley exposes a breed cat counterfeiting ring, she becomes the target of a serial killer who murders with a grisly cat-like claw.

Cat's Paw (Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery Series Book 3)  Two suspicious deaths at an elite art retreat send Lynley running back to Portland, but murder follows in her wake.

Cat Call (Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery Series Book 4)  Lynley takes over as cat handler for a TV pilot only to find the show is hexed and murder is waiting in the wings.

Aren't those titles and plot descriptions grrrrreat?!



And now, without further ado, I would like to share my recent interview with author Mollie Hunt:


Author Mollie Hunt and her cat Tinkerbelle

Since I'm working backwards, reading the 5th book in your series first (I promise, I will catch up afterwards!), I wanted to know what inspired you to include "cat facts" at the beginning of each chapter?
Thanks for bringing that up, Kathleen. I personally enjoy epigraphs in books; they give us a little something extra, a teaser before we dive into the new chapter text. Being a cat shelter volunteer and very much into cat health and welfare, I thought epigraphs were the perfect chance to impart educational information about cats without lecturing within the story. Topics broached in the book, such as TNR, kidney disease, and the plight of black cats in the shelter system deserve further discussion, and the epigraphs work well for that.
Have you used this feature in all five books, or is this unique to the Cat Café  story?
I’ve included epigraphs from the start, though I don’t remember consciously deciding to do it. It just sort of morphed into being when I was writing Cats’ Eyes, the first in the series.
You even manage to weave in this same kind of information in the dialogue and storytelling of the plot itself! 
I must admit in the first few books, my epigraphs were more random, something I found interesting about cats. (One of my personal favorites is: “If you think you smell cat pee, you probably do.” Cat’s Paw, Chapter 23.) Then it came to me that if I tied the epigraph in with the story, it would make more sense and have more impact.
It's a great way to educate the cat-loving public, while entertaining readers at the same time. Brilliant!

With the photograph of Carol and her friends as teenagers as the centerpiece of this story, I have to know if a photo of someone in your life sparked the idea. I ask because I am packing up my house to move, and found all of my parents' photos in the process. 
No, not directly, but I am blessed (or cursed) with caretaking the bulk of my family’s ephemera, including numerous photographs going all the way back to the civil war. But looking back on the past isn’t always a pleasant experience. Here, Lynley’s mom Carol in confronted with the photo:
….she upended the envelope and slipped its contents into her lap, a grainy eight-by-ten photograph sandwiched between squares of cardboard backing.
Her hand froze midair as she stared at the photo. So quickly as to be clumsy, she shoved it back into its packing and clasped it to her breast.
“What is it, Mum? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Without speaking, she rose and quick-stepped out of the room. A minute later, I heard her bedroom door open then shut with a slam.
“What just happened?” Devon asked me.
I shrugged, clueless.
“Did you see what was in the photograph?”
“No, not really. People. Black and white. It looked old.”
We both turned to the hallway as if my mother might suddenly reappear to explain her actions.
She didn’t.
Candy came in from the kitchen, a tray of drinks and wine glasses filled with rich, cinnamony rice pudding. She stopped in confusion when she saw Carol’s empty place. Then she sighed and pasted on a big smile.
“Refreshments, anyone?”
Cat Café, chapter 11.




I found it interesting that the generation is "our parents" (those in their 80s right now) and "us" (boomers), so I am curious if maybe you were going through photos one day, found one of 80-somethings as a teenagers, and that inspired you.
Sometimes I take it for granted that everyone knows what their parents looked like throughout their lives, but it isn’t true. The fact that I have photos of parents, grandparents, and even some great grandparents from babies all the way through to old age is exceptional. One of my favorite photos is of my mother in college with long hair tumbling down her back doing yoga. I certainly never saw her that way.

Since I am 66, the idea of a parent in their 80s  seemed fitting. 80-somethings don’t get nearly enough face-time in current stories.

They sure don't! It's great that you're featuring that generation in your series.
Since you live in Portland, Oregon, how does your real-life location impact your writing of the Crazy Cat Lady mystery series? Do you use real places, restaurants, street names, and so forth?  Is there really a Cat Cafe nearby, for instance?
I locate my stories in Portland partially because I am proud of my town and partly because I’m lazy. The old saying, “write what you know”, applies here. I am a rare bird, a Portland native, and have watched Portland grow from a bigish town to a huge city. I can offer that experience to the advantage of my stories.
I use a mixture of real and fictional places. For example, the Belmont neighborhood, where the Blue Cat café is located, is a real place, not far from my own home. The businesses— Cupcake City , The Florist Shop, and alas, the Blue Cat— are entirely fictional. Coincidentally a bookstore called Belmont Books just opened up a few weeks ago, and it’s very near the location of the bookstore in Cat Café!

Your stories are reminiscent of a few other series I'm familiar with.  It's "Murder She Wrote meets Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries". And I mean this as a compliment! I wish I could write fiction, my attempts have always become too obviously autobiographical. Are any parts of your characters autobiographical, and if you don't mind sharing, which ones?
My hero, Lynley Cannon, is indeed semi-autobiographical. Beyond age and demographics, Lynley and I are both Trekkies, both have an anxiety disorder, and both love volunteering and fostering cats. Lynley is much more outgoing than I am, however, and she has a lot more cats.
Other characters vary, some being based on people I know or have known, and some being purely fictional. Thankfully, all the villains are fictional!

Like you and Lynley, I too have anxiety disorder, love volunteering and [living with] cats. Not fostering yet... I still have too many of my own.
In the case where the themes and characters aren't autobiographical, how did the ideas come to you? Songwriters say they sometimes get a "muse" that visits them and they act on that and can't help but write the songs -- they just seem to "flow" and they can't stop it (and wouldn't try!). Is it that same process occurring when you create characters and plot lines for your fictional series?
Yes, that very well describes my writing process. I compare it to reading, only slower. The words come, as if on a page. Often they are accompanied by pictures which I see vividly and can then describe in detail. I usually begin a book with something very basic, such as the title and tagline, and then the story blossoms on its own from there.

With Cat Café, all I knew when I sat down with my laptop was that I wanted to write about a cat café. That’s it. A year later, it is a book.

As to characters, they have a life of their own. Scary, isn’t it?

Not at all! I love it! 
What projects are you working on next? Can we expect Crazy Cat Lady mystery number 6 any time soon?
I’m working on the third draft of Crazy Cat Lady #6, Cosmic Cat (“When a superhero cosplayer falls to his death at a comic con, Lynley is left holding the bag— and a cat!”), as well as the second run-through of a Christmas novella, Cat Noel, (“Lynley finds new meaning in Christmas when a wiccan’s familiar is cat-napped before the winter solstice festival and Lynley becomes her only hope.”), both of which I intend to publish next year. I’m on chapter eight of book #7, Cat Conundrum (“A locked room. A dead man. The cat is the only witness, and he isn’t talking.”) Lynley Cannon still has a lot of tales to tell.

I can't wait to read all of them. Keep going!
What else other than that? Either writing, or other projects and passions...
Of note, I am working on something completely different, the Cat Seasons tetralogy, a fantasy sci-fi series where cats save the world. I’ve finished the first book, Cat Summer (“Can one person change the world? Yes, with the help of a few stalwart cats.”) and am sending it to a publisher soon.
I am also putting together a book of cat poems, but I’m still looking for a title and can’t move ahead until I’ve found one. The only title I’ve come up with is Cat Poems, and there are already many volumes by that name. I need something fresh. Any ideas?


Meow! You are busy! How about "Purrfect Poetry"?! (lol!)
Moving along....What can you tell me about yourself that most people don't know? Or... are you an open book? (sorry! pun fully intended!)
I really am an open book, as you so aptly put it. At this point in my life, I mostly hang out in my house and write.
Briefly, I was born in Portland and grew up in the house my great grandfather built. At sixteen, I fell in with hippies and moved to British Columbia, where I stayed for ten years. Coming back to Portland, I got a degree in commercial art and became not-so-gainfully self-employed. In 1994, I took up writing again after a 30-year hiatus; in 1997, I married my soulmate; and in 2006, I began volunteering for the Oregon Humane Society. To sum up my life, books and cats covers the most of it.
I totally appreciate that. I think if I were stranded on a deserted island, books and cats would make it all ok.
Many thanks, Mollie for writing such great books, and for taking the time to be interviewed by Traveling Dog Lady and fellow crazy cat lady.
And thank you so much, Kathy, for having me over to your blogsite. I really enjoyed your questions; they made me think.
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Some additional words from Mollie Hunt:  Kathleen S. Mueller is the last stop on this week’s Cat Café Book Launch Blog Hop, but you can still visit the previous posts:

Oct. 29th- National Cat Day.
The 1st day of the hop starts with Dusty Rainbolt’s Jeffy Jeffy Bad Boy interviewing Lynley’s oldest cat, Dirty Harry. Old cats have all the secrets!
Dusty Rainbolt's Universe

Oct. 30th: Melissa Lapierre’s cat Mudpie interviews Lynley’s kitties, all 8 of them! (Little, Lynley’s favorite feline sleuth, is the spokes-cat)
Blogger, Mochas, Mysteries and Meows

Oct 31: Why Cat Café? Patricia Fry wants to know.
Catscapades

Nov. 1: Fun Questions with Amy Shojai, CABC
Amy Shojai, CABC


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Find out more about Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer:
@MollieHuntCats

Native Oregonian Mollie Hunt has always had an affinity for cats, so it was a short step for her to become a cat writer. Mollie is the author of THE CRAZY CAT LADY COZY MYSTERY SERIES, featuring Portland native Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. The 3rd in the series, CAT’S PAW, was a finalist for the 2016 Mystery & Mayhem Book Award. Mollie also published a non-cat mystery, PLACID RIVER RUNS DEEP, which delves into murder, obsession, and the challenge of chronic illness in bucolic southwest Washington. Two of her short cat stories have been published in anthologies, one of which, THE DREAM SPINNER, won the prestigious CWA Muse Medallion this year.

Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, Willamette Writers, the Cat Writers’ Association, and the Northwest Independent Writers Association. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a varying number of cats. Like Lynley, she is a grateful shelter volunteer.