Kathy: PJ has a unique ability. Like her mother before her, when night falls, she turns into a cat. Would you like to possess that ability?
CW: Sure! I think that would be fun. It would be great to be able to talk with my cats and really see what their view of the world is like. It would also be fun to be able to roam around outside at night and not worry about what people have to worry about (mostly other people, that is). Of course I’d have to be careful of other animals, but in the book PJ speaks canine and squirrel and other animal languages; that would be the icing on the cake.
Kathy: I currently live with three cats. Do you have pet cats of your own?
CW: Three cats, that is probably a lot of fun. We do have cats, we have two cats. We have an intrepid young black cat named Yellow. His name suits not only his big yellow eyes but also the fact that when we first saw him he and his two brothers wore color-coded collars and his was yellow. We also have a grey tabby named Brucee. He is a bit older and awfully odd. He likes to play fetch with Christmas bows. He also steals my daughter’s stuffed animals and carries them around the house meowing. Both cats are wonderful and I can’t imagine life without cats.
Kathy: Clara is the county's prime cat rescuer. Is she based on a real person or group? Are you involved with any local rescue organizations?
CW: Clara is the canonical crazy cat lady, except she takes good care of all her strays. I don’t know anyone like her. I’ve often wanted to get involved with local rescue organizations, for example being a foster parent for animals. My husband is not keen on filling our house with animals, and I don’t blame him. Still, I’d like to be more like Clara.
Kathy: In human form PJ is a reporter and photographer. In fact, even when young she was known for her candid and "impossible" photos. Do you have an interest in photography yourself? Do you tend to take lots of snapshots of everyday life?
CW: I studied photography in high school and really enjoyed it. I do still like to take pictures and it is facilitated by the fact we all have cell phones with high resolution cameras. I like taking the pictures and then looking back at our everyday life. There is so much in life, and even little things can give great joy so I try to capture some of that feeling.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
CW: Cozy mysteries are harmless fun. There’s something about a story that’s inoffensive and universally appealing that is hard to resist. I grew up reading Agatha Christies so that’s shaped my ideas of what good mysteries are. Eyeshine was particularly fun to write. I did wonder about including references to a meth lab, but I refrain from any gory details. That’s the challenge: how to make it interesting and contemporary while still remaining cozy.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
CW: I also write thrillers, hard-boiled mysteries, and science fiction.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
CW: EYESHINE is the first book in the series about PJ, a freelance reporter by day and a cat by night. Every day at sundown, PJ turns into a cat. She wears a camera when she’s a feline and captures some great shots from unusual angles and places. Her brother is the sole FBI agent in Mayhap, Indiana’s field office and helps her stay down to earth while she investigates local crime.
DIMORPHIC is the first book in a series about Judith, a woman who inherits her twin brother’s braindead body. When she falls asleep, she switches bodies. She decides to use this power for the pursuit of evil and DIMORPHIC is the story of how she goes about becoming a superhero. She finds a mentor, sidekicks, and bad guys to chase.
My other series is about Inspector Richter, a detective in the San Francisco police department. Richter is a classic loner, but has a bionic eye. Using this eye, he can see the same information as a lie detector test: heartrate, blood pressure, galvanic temperature, etc. So Richter is a walking polygraph. What advantages does this give him? He still has to work within the confines of the law. His word carries a lot but ultimately he needs proof. His eye simply leads him in the right direction, the rest is up to him.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
CW: I like PJ. She is plucky and genuine. She views the world a little differently because she spends half her time as a cat. I would think this makes her more straightforward and honest to a fault. She is also a little arrogant, but she knows it and I think that adds to her appeal.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
CW: I like the Lilian Jackson Braun Cat Who mysteries. I also like the Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries. I realized mysteries where cats played a role were popular and thought, what about an amateur detective who is a cat? I meant that not as personifying animals, but somehow about someone who turns into a cat. Thus was born the idea of PJ, a woman who turns into a cat at sundown and back into a person at sunrise. She has to shape her life around her ability so she is not found out.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
CW: Really what got me into self-publishing was Joe Konrath’s blog about it. He was very persuasive that going with a big publisher isn’t in the bests interests of an author any more. It is ironic, since his first books were published canonically. I like the idea of self-publishing, but am finding it difficult to carry out further steps, in particular marketing. Getting yourself known is the big issue. Whether one does that via the canonical route or a self-directed route is less important, I think. The big publishers have the advantage of having publicists and contacts. Anyway, I’m glad I self-published. It has been an enlightening experience.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
CW: I would invite Agatha Christie, Michael Connolly, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Hugh Howey. That would be an interesting party. I’d say that is all of my favorite genres represented: cozy mysteries, darker mysteries, classical literature, and science fiction. I’d love to hear the conversation they would strike up. I would have to prepare in advance so I had some pithy questions memorized to start us off. I would also hope there would be time for some one-on-ones, that would be perfect.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
CW: At the moment I am reading both the Hugh Howey silo series and a Connolly book starring detective Bosch called THE BLACK BOX. I really like the Bosch series. I haven’t read any of Connolly’s Lincoln lawyer series, but will have to try those as well at some point. Connolly is a master. If I could write half as well as he does, I would be doing great. The Hugh Howey series is partly in preparation for a science fiction book I want to write. I wanted to see what contemporary science fiction was at its best. And I can see why Howey is very popular, the series is very good.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
CW: Other than writing, I like online gaming. I play World of Warcraft too much. Heck, I like games of most every sort. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of chess with my daughter. That is fun and rewarding to see her improving leaps and bounds at the game. We also play Yahtzee, Life, Uno, and Settlers of Catan. It is nice to have games to play in the late afternoon when she’s home from school and done her homework, but before we go out to her extracurricular classes.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
CW: Milk, for sure. We are big milk drinkers and go through around a quart a day so we always have a large supply of it. In the freezer I always have spanakopita, which makes a nice quick dinner when I don’t have any other ideas. In the pantry I always have cereal bars and fruit rollups for my daughter to have as snacks.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
CW: I’m currently working on a science fiction book. The premise is that the practice of preferring male babies that happens in, for example, India and China, has made it into the DNA and now males outnumber females 100 to 1 in a race called the Vuor. The story is about the clash in values and culture that ensues when the Vuor contact Earth. And, of course, there’s a war hanging in the balance. I’ll see how it goes.
I do plan to write a second book in the Eyeshine series. I am working out a plot, probably involving murder at a county chili cook-off. It sounds like a suitably fun scenario for the background of a crime, and something that everyone can relate to.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
CW: I like being able to write my own schedule and use my time the way I see fit. On the other hand, it gives me enough rope to hang myself and I often find it difficult to write during the long alone times when my daughter is at school and husband is at work. It helps to have writer’s groups to belong to and be able to go to write ins with other Indianapolis area authors. There is a thriving group spun off from the NaNoWriMo group and I’m privileged to be a part of it. I guess that is also one of my favorite things about being an author: being with other authors.
by Cy Wyss
on Tour March 1-31, 2016
Book Details:Genre: Cozy Mystery Published by: Nighttime Dog Press, LLC Publication Date: November 2015 Number of Pages: 200 ASIN: B017WD3WWU Purchase Links: