Kathy: While I have not read a lot of Noir novels, I have seen several Noir films. How did you become interested in Noir? Why choose that subgenre for your mysteries?
CS: I have always written cozy or traditional mysteries, and the truth is my “pet noir” mysteries are really cozies. But I was reading a lot of the new women-centered noir, books by Megan Abbott and Linda L. Richards, and I thought, I’d love to write one of those. So I came up with a tough-girl heroine. The problem was, as I started writing her, she ended up having an even tougher tabby. And pet noir was born.
Kathy: Pru Marlowe has a special gift. She can hear the thoughts of animals. I would love to have that gift,would you? How did you decide to add this touch of the paranormal to your series?
CS: Well, don’t all of us who have pets think we can understand them – or that we should. I mean, so many times, my cat will look at me, like, “What is wrong with you, Clea? Why aren’t you doing as I command?” And so Pru’s gift seemed quite natural.
Kathy: I have a multi-species home. I'm lucky in that, while my furkids have had their issues, I haven't encountered anything necessitating a call to an animal behaviorist. Have you ever worked with one with any of your animals?
CS: I have interviewed several, and a good friend of mine writes about wildlife. So Pru’s work is based on their real-life studies and practices. And so much of this is very basic and yet important to know: like that working animals, such as most dogs, NEED to be doing something. If they get bored, they get into trouble.
Kathy: I'm a firm believer in reading mystery series in order. While it's true that in many series, you can read the books out of order, or not start at the beginning of the series, but you generally get get so much more out the book when you have started at the beginning and read in order. The books in your Pet Noir series are described as being stand alone mysteries. Is each book a fully contained story, or will readers see a progression?
CS: Each book works as a standalone mystery, but if you start at the beginning - with “Dogs Don’t Lie” - you’ll get a bigger story about Pru and Wallis and her family and romantic interests.
Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?
CS: I love the stories and that they bring everything together in the end.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
CS: I used to write nonfiction – I have three nonfiction books in print. I’m a former journalist. But now this is it.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
CS: The Pru Marlowe pet noir mysteries feature a bad-girl animal behaviorist who was living a pretty wild life in the city when she became seriously ill. In a half-delirious state, she heard someone urging her to drink some water and to seek help. That someone, it turned out, was her cat. When she realized she could hear what all animals think, she left the city and came home to her small town in the Berkshires. But she’s still trying to make peace with her new “gift.” Luckily her cat, Wallis, is here to help her.
I also write the Dulcie Schwartz mysteries. Dulce is a graduate student studying the Gothic literature of the late 18th Century, which is full of ghosts and the paranormal. She considers herself very rational - unlike her hippie mother, who is convinced she is psychic – but Dulcie does have one special spectral visitor: the ghost of her late, great cat, Mr. Grey.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
CS: I always related to the character Toad of Toad Hall in “The Wind and the Willows.” He gets in trouble constantly because of his enthusiasms. There’s a lot of Mr. Toad in me, though I do hope I’m more considerate of others than he is.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
CS: I am inspired by real-life events and all the pets and people that I know.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
CS: I’m reading “Dead Water,” a Benjamin January mystery by Barbra Hambly. I love her work - it’s historical, featuring a free man of color in pre-Civil War New Orleans.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
CS: I love to cook and collect cookbooks! I also adore live music - rock, zydeco, Cajun, jazz….
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
CS: mustard, olive oil, garlic, and … mmmm.. probably Goslings diet Ginger Beer.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
CS: Yes, I am currently working on the next Pru, “When Bunnies Go Bad,” and then it will be onto the next Dulcie!
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
CS: I get to make up adventures and spend time with my characters.
Kittens Can Kill
by Clea Simon
on Tour June 2015
Synopsis:The dead don’t keep pets. So when animal behaviorist expert Pru Marlowe gets a call about a kitten, she doesn’t expect to find the cuddly creature playing beside the cooling body of prominent Beauville lawyer David Canaday. Heart attack? His three adult daughters angrily blame drug interactions, feline allergies—and each other. And begin to feud over their father, his considerable estate, and that cute ball of fluff. While the cause of death is pending, each sister has an axe to grind—with arguments that escalate when David’s partner reads out the will.
Pru’s special sensitivity to animals, which caused her to flee the cacophony of Manhattan for the quiet Berkshires, adds further problems. The local vet is overwhelmed as the animal hospital’s money runs out. There’s a needy Sheltie and some invasive squirrels, too. But the dead man’s kitten, his former partner, and his troublesome family keep drawing “wild-girl animal psychic Pru back in. Despite the wry observations of her trusty tabby Wallis, now the wrongfully accused kitten’s guardian, and the grudging compliance of her cop lover, this may be one time when Pru can’t solve the mystery or save the kitten she wants to believe is innocent. A single witness knows the truth about that bright spring morning. How far can Pru investigate without risking her own hidden tale?
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: 03/03/2015
Number of Pages: 434
Series: Pru Marlowe Pet Noir #5 (Each is a Stand Alone Mystery)