I'm pleased to welcome Eileen Watkins to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Eileen writes the Cat Groomer Mystery series. CLAW & DISORDER is the fifth book in the series and will be released January 26, 2020.
Kathy: In CLAW AND DISORDER cat groomer Cassie McGlone deals with two very different people, a wealthy perfectionist and a hoarder with financial difficulties. If you were in Cassie's shoes, which one would you prefer to deal with?
EW: Probably the hoarder, because he’s a nicer person! I felt a lot of empathy for Chester. I knew a couple in my old neighborhood who had a similar problem. The woman was a professional crafter, but her health was failing, and her house and yard were filled with crafting materials she never got around to using. And when I myself moved, three years ago, I became aware of how easy it is to become attached to mementos from your past, even when you really have no room to keep them.
Kathy: Gillian Foster is orchestrating the restoration of her family's nineteenth-century home and needs to board her cat. Have you ever had to deal with remodeling your home?
EW: Not on the same scale as Gillian, but I lived in a 1922 home for 18 years. I brought certain things up to date during that time, but before I sold it a lot still had to be fixed. As a vintage buff, I’d been able to put up with the house as it was, but I knew most buyers would not want to! Also, I sometimes did renovation stories as part of my newspaper job, and I still watch a lot of HGTV.
Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?
EW: Yes, I started with the perfectionist, who is based on someone I dealt with years ago, on my newspaper job. My description of Gillian’s super-authentic Early American house, and of her personality, sticks very closely to that reality. (I’ve changed her name, location, and other details.) I could tell the woman’s interior designer was terrified of her! After I’d done the interview, she even emailed my boss and tried to tell him how the story should be written. I filed her away in my memory bank, determined to use as a character someday. I do hope she doesn’t follow your blog! 😊
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Cassie?
EW: In my 2022 book, tentatively titled NIGHT OF THE WOLF-CAT, Cassie gets into possibly her most dangerous jam so far. She’s even been held at gunpoint a couple of times, but in Book #6 she becomes, shall we say, her own worst enemy. I’m having a lot of fun with this one because it’s got a symbolic wolf theme running throughout, starting with a purebred but scary-looking Maine Coon cat that comes to board with Cassie.
Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps--plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pantsers, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or do you fall somewhere in between?
EW: By nature, I fall somewhere in between. When I was writing for a smaller publisher, with no deadline, I would write a few chapters to get into the story, then outline a little ahead, and so on. These days I need to submit a fairly detailed outline to my publisher early in the game, so I try to conceptualize as much as possible ahead of time. I still keep it a bit loose, because setting things in stone too early can be bad for the story—I might get a new idea, halfway through, that will make things much more exciting! But if that happens, I let my editor know ASAP, because it can affect the back-cover and promotional copy.
Kathy: Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing, especially for a new release. What's your favorite part of marketing your work? What do you dislike about marketing?
EW: Bad luck for me, especially these days, but I dislike marketing through social media. I don’t Tweet (“don’t ask me…”) or create clever Instagram ads or do giveaways and contests. I am grateful to the folks who do those things, and will join in when I’m invited, but technology and I have a love/hate relationship. I prefer going to writers’ conferences, cat- and book-related conventions, and library events, where I can talk to people in person. It’s ironic, because I’m a definite introvert, but I get enthusiastic about my books and I think that helps sell them. I’ve even done well at street fairs and gift-and-craft shows, where people don’t expect to see an author selling her own books.
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
EW: The Wolf-Cat mystery is next on the horizon. Though it will come out in late January of 2022, it’s set at Halloween, my favorite holiday. I had a great time “decorating” the fictional town of Chadwick, NJ, for the season, and describing the entries in a pet costume contest. For Cassie, crime hits close to home this time, when the veterinary clinic is robbed of its anesthetic drugs. Her veterinarian boyfriend Mark and his whole staff fall under suspicion, and she gets involved by trying to clear them. Then the thief is found murdered, hinting at an even more dangerous boss behind the operation. We finally meet Avery Lathrop, the mystery man behind the town’s “revival” movie theater, and Cassie encounters a handsome newcomer who, for the first time, really tests her devotion to Mark. I’m just wrapping up that one now!
The Fifth Cat Groomer Mystery
It's nice when people think so highly of your services that they recommend you to others. But for cat groomer Cassie McGlone two recent recommendations land her right in the litter box! Cassie's first referral leads her to wealthy Gillian Foster who needs to board her purebred Himalayan. Dealing with this exacting woman is kitten play when compared to the second referral. Cassie is asked to help an elderly couple in a ramshackle home who are hoarders. With the husband, Chester, seeming to be suffering from dementia and his wife having multiple medical issues they are unable to properly care for the multiple cats living with them. Hoping to convince them to relinquish at least some of the cats, Cassie is saddened to hear that the wife suddenly died. While the police suspect that she may have been smothered by her husband or the cats, Cassie is doubtful. Will she be able to prove the innocence of both Chester and the cats?
Cassie McGlone navigates two disparate worlds in the fifth Cat Groomer mystery. From a wealthy, dysfunctional family to a loving couple struggling with hoarding and other health issues Cassie finds herself as a confidant as people involved keep her abreast of what's happening. While her boyfriend cautions her not to get too involved, Cassie's friendliness as well as her curiosity keeps her in the middle of everything!
While the two storylines didn't intersect, their themes were similar and I appreciated how Cassie dealt with two very different sets of people. I appreciate how the hoarding issue was handled, with care and compassion as opposed to exploitation and derision. I got a not so pleasant vibe from Mark in CLAW & DISORDER. I love his new hobby as well as his reaction to the sultry songstress of the group, but perhaps its his warnings to Cassie that gave me a wonky vibe. While he's not wrong, something is off. Meanwhile I love Sarah even more.
CLAW & DISORDER is a mystery of perceptions. Interesting characters, both human and feline, who really care, but don't take any guff either, live in these pages and I love spending time with them.