Patricia Fry has been writing for publication for 45 years, having had hundreds of her articles appear in about 300 different magazines and newsletters, including Writer’s Digest, Cat Fancy, Cats Magazine, Health, Entrepreneur, Woman’s Own, ASPCA Animal Watch, The Toastmaster and others. She has 71 books to her credit and 29 in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. She started writing the series in 2012, after a long career writing nonfiction. The latest book in the series is, according to Patricia: “… somewhat unorthodox as it’s the memoirs—Meowmoirs, if you will—of Rags, the Klepto Cat staring in my series.” Patricia lives in Ojai, CA with 2 cats and has 9 great-grandchildren who each help to make up several groupings of 5-generations within her family—the youngest being three months and the oldest (Patricia’s mother) 96.
My guest today is Patricia Fry, author of the Klepto Cat Mystery series.
~You have a new book out, “Meowmoirs of a Klepto Cat.” Tell us a little about it.
A: This is the life story of Rags, the amazing, precocious cat who stars in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. You’ll read about his precarious kittenhood, marvel at some of his intriguing and touching teenage escapades, and delight in revisiting many of his more recent adventures. Rags is a cat with a purpose. While some people believe it’s to cause chaos, others see this feline as a knight in furry armor. If we could get into Rags’s head, however, we’d probably see that it’s filled with butterflies and trinkets. Yes, he marches to the beat of a different drummer and leaves behind an assortment of reactions. Is Rags clever or naïve, intuitive or fluky, smart or lucky? And does it really matter? One thing’s for sure, he makes an impression wherever he goes and that’s just the way his fans like it.
~Like me, you are a member of the Cat Writers’ Association, demonstrating your true dedication to cats. How many cats do you have? Do they help with your writing?
A: We currently have two, Lily and Sophie. Lily was one of 15 kittens born to three feral mother cats eight years ago. She was born in an abandoned Volkswagen. Shhhh. Don’t tell her she’s feral, she really never got the hang of shying away from people. She’s a sweet, sweet torbie, a tabby with splashes of soft orange in her fur. At a very young age she was diagnosed with kidney disease. We’ve had some rough times with her—she’s seriously allergic to some of the feline vaccines. And it took us a while to get her on a good low protein diet for her disease. Presently, she’s 8 years old and holding her own very nicely. We just had another blood draw this week and it shows that she’s maintaining her 12 pound figure and, although her kidney values are rising, it’s very slow and the veterinarian believes that because it’s rising so slowly at this point, her body is able to handle it. We don’t know what’s in Lily’s future, but for now she’s every bit a healthy cat and we adore her to pieces.
Lily is one reason for the Klepto Cat theme in my series. She has several small stuffed animals that she loves to carry around in her mouth. She delivers a stuffed hedgehog, kitty, bunny, owl, moose or lamb to me practically every day. Sometimes she brings me my slippers.
Sophie is a tortie. She was found hanging out in a colony. Someone trapped her when she was around10-weeks old and took her to a veterinarian to be spayed. We knew the vet tech and she knew we’d just lost our beloved 17-year-old Himalayan, so she called to tell us that she was pretty sure this kitten would make a wonderful pet if someone would just show her some love. They were right. Sophie still has many of her original feral fears, but she has come a long way and boy does she love a good lap cuddle.
As for the cats helping me with my writing—oh yes, practically every day they provide me with support and ideas. They entertain me and remind me to take breaks (to feed them or to snuggle). And as you can see, Lily’s even been known to help me write a crucial scene.
~Tell us your favorite real or fictional cat story.
A: Oh my goodness. There are so many. I just finished writing Book 30 of the Klepto Cat Mystery series (to be published later this month). Plus I have a book of true cat tales—Catscapades—which features 25 amazing stories. I’ve posted five blogs per week for about seven years now—so you know I have stories. Here’s one with a message for everyone who loves their cats. Yes, it’s a true story:
My friend Johanna one day asked me if I’d take care of her cats should something happen to her. I laughed. Johanna was 55 years old and in excellent health. She had four beloved cats—all having come to her from dire situations. She told me that day, “I want to arrange for my cats’ care just in case. It’s important to me.” She also said, “I know that you have four cats of your own (yes I did at the time) and you can’t take them into your home. I’ve set aside a bank account for you in case you need money to donate to a shelter that will take them or in case they need medical treatment.”
Wow! What was I to say? Of course I agreed—knowing that Johanna would certainly outlive all of her cats and probably me.
A year later, Johanna died of a brain aneurism suffered while on a tropical vacation with her fiancé. And I became responsible for 4 more cats. I was already caring for Johanna’s cats in her absence. But now what? Who would take on these adult cats? It had to be the sort of situation Johanna would want for her treasured kitties.
Do you believe in Divine intervention? I do. They’d flown Johanna to a local hospital in a coma and, as I left the hospital the day she died, a nurse said, “I believe one of the nurses would like to take one of her cats.”
Sure enough, this nurse knew Johanna and was aware of her deep love for her cats. She wanted to continue caring for one of them, so we introduced her to Lilly—a plump gray-and-black tabby—the sweetest of the bunch. It was love at first pet.
After the funeral, Johanna’s brother wanted to meet his sister’s cats and he decided to adopt Charlie.
My good friend, Virginia, took Goldie and thoroughly enjoyed her for as long as she lived.
It took a while, but Johanna’s fiancé finally decided he had to have Nikki, Johanna’s favorite and the shyest of them all.
Since then, I have written articles on the importance of arranging for God parents for your cats long before you plan to “retire” from this earth plane—another gift to cats and their people.
~What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in the cat world? And your greatest disappointment?
A: Interesting question. Throughout my long writing/publishing career, I’ve felt good each time I found a publisher for an article or a book with a helping or educational aspect. And this is true whether it was designed to help cats, horses, children, entrepreneurs, women, authors, etc. I loved knowing that my piece on how to help the feral cat in your backyard, how to teach children responsibility through gentle pet care, how to successfully introduce a new cat into the family, and so forth might have helped many cats have a better life. This is still a priority for me, so I continue to educate, inform, and entertain on behalf of cats through my Catscapades blog. But I was delighted to learn that I’m helping even more cats through my Klepto Cat Mystery series.
I had no idea, when I started writing this series, how much of my seemingly natural tendency to teach about and support cats would seep into my stories. But here I am sometimes using a journalistic approach while delivering a tantalizing mystery. As most novelists know, there has to be truth in fiction and I still strive to educate and even change minds with truths that are wrapped up nicely in sometimes exquisite, mostly tantalizing, and usually complex storylines. Sharing concepts that help us to better serve our cat populations and be better cat parents is extremely satisfying to me.
However, I must say that my cat star, Rags, doesn’t always make it easy to do the right thing by him. He’s a renegade who marches to a different drummer and who seems to be a magnet for trouble. He also pretty much always comes out on top of the heap with clues that help to solve the current mystery. He’s a klepto cat, after all.
As for my greatest disappointment: despite all that we’re doing and have been doing over the years to educate pet owners and to reverse the outrageous numbers of abandoned cats, it still isn’t enough. There are hundreds of shelters and thousands of volunteers working hard in the trenches to save and protect cats and still the number of homeless cats is horrendously out of control.
My step-Grandmother Kathleen was ahead of her time in this effort. She was known in our small town as the cat lady and anyone with a cat or a litter of unwanted kittens dropped them off at her home. She had a running bill with the local veterinarian for spaying and neutering these cats and keeping them healthy. Many cats had the run of her house, but most lived in a series of huge pens in her backyard. I don’t believe she ever let one go. She didn’t trust anyone to care for her cats as well as she could.
I think she’d be pleased to know that I’m doing what I can to help cats. Not only do I attempt to educate people about cat care and rescue through my daily blog and my books, I rescue. Both of our current kitties are rescues and there have been several before them.
~What five words would you use to describe yourself?
A: Passionate (about cats, writing, and life—always have been always will be). Impatient (when it comes to most things that take time, from technology glitches to molasses). Silly (I see nothing wrong with silliness in the right place at the right time—or not—even at my advanced age—78 and counting). Family-oriented (well, who isn’t? I thoroughly enjoy my three daughters, six grandchildren and all of their spouses. The crowning glory in our family are my nine great grandchildren.) Health-Conscious (I take a power walk almost every day and have done so since recovering from a back injury about forty years ago. I’m also always adjusting my diet for optimal health).
~What is the most useful writing tip you’ve ever been given?
A: Having been in the writing game for 45 years and having started my writing career and my publishing company long before it was fashionable or convenient, I’m generally the tip-giver. Before my new life as a fiction-writer, I traveled all over the US speaking to would be authors at writers’ conferences and club meetings. The question I’m asked more than any other is “How do you find time to write?” This is closely followed by “How do you organize your time—get it all done?”
I try to convince these folks that it all boils down to their personal motivation. I was motivated to build a business around my writing because of my passion for writing and my strong desire to spend my days writing. In order to stay at home and write, I had to find a way for the writing to pay the bills. There’s also a part of me who wants to be heard—or, in this case, read. Those motivating factors are so strong for me that, even against some difficult odds, I have been able to create a business from my writing and make it pay.
Some authors/writers might be motivated to help others through their writing. Yes, that’s part of my motivation as well, as is evident in the types of articles and books I’ve had published over the years. Additional motivations might be to prove something to yourself and/or others, simply the joy of seeing your words in print, or achieving recognition as an expert in your field. For some, the simple motivation isn’t enough to keep them on track, so they set up a rewards system—if you write for an hour, you can take a walk or call a friend or play with the cat, for example. Once you’ve met a certain writing goal, you’ve earned a night out with your best gal/guy, an overnighter with your grandchild, or a new plant for your garden.
The thing most writers learn only with time is that each of us has a different level of motivation and passion. Our goals are not the same and our approach to our writing projects also differ. So hanging out with other writers and picking the brains of those who are successful is a positive move, but it’s still up to you to find your way in this highly competitive, amazingly enjoyable world of writing.
~Add something you would like to tell us just for fun.
People get a kick out of some of my writing techniques—or I should say my story-organizing techniques. For example, I’ll watch my cats and make notes and take photographs, then practice using terms and words to describe some of their actions. I once got down on the floor into some interesting contortions while trying to find the terms to describe a physical confrontation occurring in one of my stories. They say seeing is believing, so it’s important to create the scene so it is believable, don’t you think so?
~I do, and I have pictures of me cuffed with zip ties to prove it!
~My chat with you today is part of your promotional book tour. Where else will the tour take us?
~Besides your new book, do you have any big news coming up soon?
A: Hopefully. This blog tour is big and exciting. So far this year, I’ve had the opportunity to speak about my Klepto Cat Mysteries at a quaint local bookstore—once a church. I spoke outdoors under a beautiful stand of oaks, then signed books as guests enjoyed refreshments. It was fun. I also spoke to a group of authors and hopeful authors south of here about successfully transitioning from nonfiction to fiction. I was on a panel discussing research for fiction—a hugely important topic—at the Cat Writers’ Association Conference in Houston last month. I’m always seeking out and accepting opportunities to speak. It’s what you do when you want to make friends and fans.
~What is the best way to keep up with you?
www.matilijapress.com/Catscapades (my everything-cat blog)
~Thank you for being with us today and best of luck, Patricia.
The Klepto Cat Mystery series covers are painted specifically for Patricia by cat artist and CWA member Bernadette E. Kazmarski, who has won multiple Muse Medallions for her artwork.
Rags’s Memoirs, book 29 in the Klepto Cat Mystery series, is now available in print and Kindle format. Order yours here.
Order the Kindle or print version of Meowmoirs of a Klepto Cat or any of the other 28 Klepto Cat Mysteries at Amazon.com.