Monday, October 27, 2008

Tuesday's Special Is ... Cries and Whiskers!

Cries and Whiskers by Clea Simon

Order here from Amazon.

Visit Clea's Website.

Clea Simon may be a dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrat who grew up coloring on the backs of Eugene McCarthy posters, but she also values monogamy. Despite her all too easy-to-stereotype reputation, she only lives with one cat at a time. She likes the focus, the undivided attention, that slitted stare that says, "You're mine."

Why the reputation? Among numerous other books and stories, Clea has authored four cat caper cozies. Cries and Whiskers, which Booklist pegs as "Highly recommended," is number three. Number four, Probable Claws, is due out in April.

As for influences, Hilary Mantel and Anthony Trollop's writing had none on her own writing style, but she's still a huge fan of theirs. Oh, and the multi-talented Clea once played bass semi-professionally. Perhaps you heard her play in bands such as Wake Up Screaming or the Liggers? No?
But wait! Animal lover, musician, patron of a black-and-white tuxedo kitty named Musetta … Is Cries and Whiskers really a memoir camouflaged as a novel? Hmmm … Read this excerpt and see what you think. Then answer the questions for your chance to win an autographed copy of Clea's latest memoir novel.


(The heroine Theda's beloved house cat, Musetta, has gone missing in a wild winter storm. She feels terrible, thinks that Musetta got out because of her negligence. But after searching, setting humane traps, and posting "missing pet" posters, her friends tell her she needs to go home and eat.)

I wasn’t hungry. I felt like someone had slammed me full on into a wall. But I let him talk to me as if I still cared about meals and by the time we got off the phone, I’d humored him by making a turkey sandwich that tasted like paste.

“I love you, darling. Do you have something to keep your mind busy tonight?” I thought of that stupid tape, the column that was due, and grunted.

“Well, whatever it is, try not to worry too much.” Like that was going to happen. But he must have heard my silence. “Try to get some sleep, okay?”

“I’ll try, Bill. I love you, too. Thanks.”

I made a stab at transcribing the tape then, though the work goes slowly when you turn off the machine at every noise. But there were no calls, and no familiar mews kept me from finishing every fatuous word of it. God, the Swann’s Way guys were full of themselves. Writing would have been impossible, and by then my eyes were barely focusing. The bed was too empty for comfort, but I must have dozed off on the sofa. When the phone finally rang, I found myself tangled in the afghan that usually lies along the back. I nearly ripped it in my haste to grab the big, old phone’s receiver.

“Hello? Hello? I’m here!” Please, god, let it be someone with news of Musetta.

“We have your cat.” I went dizzy with relief.

“Oh, thank god! Where did you find her? Where are you? I’ll come out and pick her up.” I reached for my glasses and started looking around for a pair of dry shoes.

“No, you don’t understand.” The male voice on the line was muffled but clear. Still, his words confused me. “We have your cat. Back off with all the questions, and she’ll be all right.”

The line went dead in my hand and I was left staring, the only sound the buzz of the phone and the soft patter of wet snow against the window.


1) Name another food besides a turkey sandwich that tastes like paste in a time of crisis.
2) How many afghans does Clea own, and are any of them dogs?
3) What does Clea do to keep herself busy when she's trying not to worry?

Special Treat: We'll be posting Chapter One this weekend!


Phoenix said...

Kitty in danger! Mystery! I know I'm hooked.

Welcome Clea!

laughingwolf said...

welcome clea... catnapped for ransom? not cool :(

1. wet cat food, of course :O lol

2. clea owns just one afghan, and it IS a dog... from fighting over it with musetta, but it still keeps both of them warm, especially in times of cises

3. to keep busy, clea weaves wondrous tales of feline delight

laughingwolf said...

crises... grrrrrrr

Shona Snowden said...

Oh, we're on Tuesday already.


It was the dog that did it.

All food tastes like paste in a crisis. Especially if I'm the one having a crisis while I make it.

peggy said...

Awesome, a Kitty person! Wow..this sure looks great! I have all my kittie sitting here with me, as I read them the excerpt all they can say is "Well, purrpurr..did she get her back? What did the bad guys do to her? We;'ll end out a sos if you don't tell us!" So now I Have to get the book or they'll be no living with them! Oh the questions..
1) Name another food besides a turkey sandwich that tastes like paste in a time of crisis.
A mouse smoothie!
2) How many afghans does Clea own, and are any of them dogs?
8, one for everyplace Musetta sleeps, which is anywhere she wants!
3) What does Clea do to keep herself busy when she's trying not to worry?
Change the litter boxes..again. Or maybe, make a PB&N sandwich

peggy said...

Oh, ratts, wish we could edit our pots, it's suppose to be a PB&M sandwich. forgot the mouse!

Jackie B. said...

Had to answer for a chance to win this great sounding book!

1.Liver pate-actually I think it always tastes like paste!
2.She owns 4 afghans-two live ones and two couch covers.
3.Cleans cat hair off the furniture of course.

ChrisEldin said...

Good Morning! I'll be back later to read your excerpt...

Charles Gramlich said...

This is a great opening. I really enjoyed this. Below are my responses to the questions.

1. pretty much anything except chocolate.

2. three afghans, none of them dogs.

3. make paste

Clea Simon said...

Wow - just settled down with my coffee and you've all beat me here! I'll be back in a few after I wander around and count all those afghans (woof, woof...)

Clea Simon said...

So - ok - I have to ask! Have to! It's part of my oath as a card-carrying member of the Cat Writers Association (well, ok, it's not, but maybe I'll suggest it at the annual conference):

What pets do you cohabit with?

peggy said...

umm. me, I have 12 cats and a dog, various cockleroaches ( I made that up) I have a wierd husband, he's a pet. Gotta housebreak him though, I'm working on it. You'd think after smaking him on the nose for 38 yrs he'd get it figured out :)
Good morning!

Phoenix said...

Ooh, you would ask about furry, feathery, scaly companions. I have a list of co-habitors ;o)

* 3.5 kitties (the half kitty is feral and only hangs around at mealtimes) - the rest are strays who decided to stay full time
* 3 dogs - all strays and rescues
* 1 iguana - another rescue
* 2 goats - yes, strays (I think I have a neon sign up front that says, "homeless animals welcome")
* 4 miniature horses
* 30 chickens - only 1 a stray
* 16 parakeets
* 2 finches
* 1 duck
* And a mockingbird in a pear tree ;o)

Peggy, I'm glad I don't have a hubby - one of those sounds like way too much work!

Phoenix said...

Oops, left off the 3 guineas. And they're fussing about it...

peggy said...

What a grand Zoo you have! All of my kitties are strays that found me..I too must have a sign that says "Free food, mushy human" with an arrow pointing at me LOL

Clea Simon said...

Serious menageries!

Peggy - I say try treats. I can just about get my husband to stand up on command now (JOKE!)

And Phoenix - wow! A friend has a miniature horse, a rescue her husband brought home. It ate her entire garden, but now they seem to getting along.

peggy said...

How many critters do you have Clea?

Clea Simon said...

Right now, I cohabit only with Musetta (the kitty pictured) and my husband. Musetta is a bit of a scaredy cat and does best being an only cat. And of course that way I get all her attention!

Sarah Laurenson said...

2 dogs that are barking like mad right now as the gardeners are here. 1 cat who thinks he's a dog. 1 or 2 (or more) cats eating from the bowl outide, though I only see 1 regularly.

The beagle howls, as beagles do, but the min-pin mix has learned to howl in his own way. He sings a high pitched counterpoint to the deep throated howler. Having a phone conversation is tricky.

Love the excerpt! I'll be back later if I get the time.

Phoenix said...

Sarah - that cat who thinks it's a dog issue? Sounds like a good one for the nature vs nuture discussion we had yesterday!

Clea - which came first: Musetta the fictional cat or Musetta the kitty who's no doubt sitting on your keyboard right now?

peggy said...

Thats why she can't answe Musetta is sleeping peacefully on the keyboard, preventing her moving. Don't ya just hate that? maybe get her a keyboard of herown to nap on?

Clea Simon said...

Wouldn't work. She'd just claim them both! But she's now on the chair behind me, enjoying her beauty sleep (and supervising). To answer: Musetta the real kitty inspired Musetta the fictional kitty. Hey, if you can't put your own pets in your books, why write 'em?

However, the late lamented Cyrus (my eminence grise), who featured prominently in "The Feline Mystique," is referred to as "James" in the Theda mysteries (James was a cat I had as a child).

Clea Simon said...

Sarah - I have a fondness for species-confused cats. Does your cat fetch? I love cats who fetch. I guess you could say, I find them fetching. (oooh)

Clea Simon said...

So, hey, let me throw out another question: We've talked a bit about the cute and cuddly side. But these are murder mysteries.

So.... ever want to kill someone? Who? And how would you do it without getting caught?

peggy said...

Hmmm, can't name names you know..statue limitations and such but..Hit em in the head with a rock and then bury them in the basement..see I don't have a basement but I do have a huge 12x10 room of some sort beneath the house,probably a cistrin (sp) then slowly but surely I'll fill the thing in with concrete, that would also stop the water seeping into the room. I solved, I mean I'd solve two problems with one stone. I mean Kill 2 birds with one stone. Yeah, thats how I'd do it.

Clea Simon said...

Hmm... and where would you do it? Could you lure him/her down into the basement, and do it there? Or if somewhere else - how would you transport the body? And clean up?

peggy said...

Well, I'd play my dumb blonde rountine...oh my kitty is stuck in this hole...could you help me:)
then, wham bam thank ya man.
No muss no fuss, nothing to clean up..sheesh even if he was still wiggley a good ole 22 with a silencer would hush him up. silncer you ask..a balloon over a 22..silent as can be..
Now, if I had to transport said victim, first our meeting would be a secret, I'd do it during deer season. Just stuff him inside the deer/( Elk is better) cavity, deposit said body inside same hole, pour said concret, which was ordered 2 weeks ago. Same problem solved..

Clea Simon said...

Sweet! I'd say you have a future in this (uh, let's keep it in fiction though, shall we?) I love the corpse-in-a-deer device. Very Jack London...

Phoenix said...

Fishing for plot lines for your next novel, are you, Clea? :o) Hehe.

Anyone else out there a slow-acting, ingestible poison fan? Your home, their home, picnic, diner, wherever. And you're away before the person's dead. No muss, no fuss.

Where do you get said poison? Lots of online pharmacies in deregulated countries are happy to provide some rather noxious toxins if taken at higher-than-recommended doses. No prescription required. Concentrate a liquid by boiling or centrifuging. Slip the result in something tangy, spicy or otherwise exotically flavored. And, of course, serve it with a smile.

Speaking of which, what can you tell us about your next book, Clea?

Clea Simon said...

I'd go for the household poison, Phoenix. Tylenol is as lethal as anything, and so much easier to explain away as an accidental overdose!!

And... thanks for asking! "Probable Claws" (okay, everybody groan) brings together a few of my favorite elements. First of all, cats are getting sick, and Theda wonders if we have another case of contaminated cat food (like the melamine-poisonings of a few years back). Then, someone is sending threatening letters to the area shelters. And somehow, when a dear friend ends up dead, Theda finds herself holding both the body and the bloody blade -- and is the likely suspect for murder!

Clea Simon said...

and never fear... no matter how many people I kill, I'll never hurt a cat!

McKoala said...

I have a dog and two fish, plus a wild bird of mysterious breed (looks like a cross magpie/kookaburra) that spends a lot of time on our deck and the kids have declared is also our pet.

Phoenix said...

Alrighty then, time to bring the kitties in and call this a roast.

Clea, if you could choose a winner, please, and announce them here.

Winner, please contact Clea through her website to arrange getting your claws on one purrfect cat cozy, "Cries and Whiskers".

Clea Simon said...

Cool, mckoala! Do you think maybe the bird thinks you are its (his? her?) pets?

Clea Simon said...

Oh this is difficult but... simply for her willingness to think through her own murder mystery, I'm naming Peggy!

Thank you all though!

(and for the record, I'm going to be giving away some ARCs of "Probable Claws" through my own blog soon, so please drop by there when you're in the mood: )

peggy said...

me? Oh my, I am so excited! Oh...I just can't wait to read it all. And maybe , just maybe I can write this mystery, since it's now stuck in my head :)
Thank you so very very much Clea and Musetta too

Phoenix said...

Woohoo, Peggy! Congrats!

And did I hear Clea say "ARCs"? Hie thee on over to her website, double time.

Clea, thank you and Musetta sooo much for hanging with us today. This was fun!

Clea Simon said...

Thank you all for coming on over today. This didn't hurt a bit!

(and for that ARC contest - check my blog in the next week or two. There is a link to my blog on my home site, but you can go directly to -- it's just easier for me to do stuff like this on my blog, rather than send it to my web dude, wait around, etc., etc., etc.)

Peggy - email me directly with your snail mail info and I'll get your CRIES & WHISKERS off to you!

Good night everyone, and thanks much!

Sarah Laurenson said...

My cats who knew they were cats played fetch - with crumpled up paper. This dog-cat plays with tennis balls, but he tends to eat the covering more than chase them.

He loves to chase his doggy brother and be chased by him. He comes when you call him. And he will chase a ball if you throw it, sometimes. He will also play with the other dog toys.

laughingwolf said...

grats peggy... and thx clea :D

Clea Simon said...

OK, Sarah, that is really doggy!

Hey, thanks everyone for showing up!