I’m pleased today to host my friend and colleague Mollie Hunt, author of the popular Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series. If you love cats, adore mysteries, and enjoy reading a fun series, you’re in for a treat!
Who Is Mollie Hunt?
Native Oregonian Mollie Hunt has always had an affinity for cats, so it was a short step for her to become a cat writer. Mollie is the author of the Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series, including CATS’ EYES, COPY CATS, CAT’S PAW, CAT CALL, and now, CAT CAFÉ. The series features Portland native Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. Mollie also published a non-cat mystery, PLACID RIVER RUNS DEEP, which delves into murder, obsession, and the challenge of chronic illness in bucolic southwest Washington. Two of her short cat stories have been published in anthologies, one of which, THE DREAM SPINNER, won the prestigious CWA Muse Medallion this year.
Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, Willamette Writers, the Cat Writers’ Association, and the Northwest Independent Writers Association. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a varying number of cats. Like Lynley, she is a grateful shelter volunteer.
Find out more about Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer on her website here.
Q & A With Mollie Hunt, Cozy Mystery Author
Hi, Amy! Thanks so much for having me over to your blog site to celebrate the launch of the 5th Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery, CAT CAFE. I see you have some questions for me. I love questions, and I’m happy to answer them.
Why fiction? and why a cozy cat mystery series?
Mollie: The short answer is that I write what I read. My favorite genre is the cozy cat mystery. I find cozy mysteries especially comforting in these times of trouble, and though I don’t ignore what is going on in the world, I also don’t need to stress myself further by reading disturbing material in my downtime.
Fiction is where my heart is. As a fiction writer, I can change the world, right wrongs, make peace, have happy endings. I can also dish out justice as I see fit and even kill off my enemies. (Tee hee!) But it’s not all about entertainment. My Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series features cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon, and through her, I’m able to sneak in a bit of cat information as well.
Tell us more about Lynley.
Lynley finds herself in many cat-related circumstances. In Copy Cats, she intercepts a cat counterfeiting scam and a cat breeder gone bad. In Cat’s Paw, she attends an art retreat at an animal sanctuary on its own secluded island. She takes over as a cat handler for a television pilot in Cat Call. In Cat Café, aside from discovering a series of bizarre murders, Lynley goes on a TNR outing for the first time, so I get to tell the reader about the Trap-Neuter-Return program for feral cats. She also adopts a cat with feline cerebellar hypoplasia*, a neurological birth defect that results in walking and balance problems, so we discuss these special cats as well.
As to why mysteries? It’s all about the puzzle. Who done it? The clues are there but hopefully laid out in such a way the reader doesn’t guess the outcome until the end. By the way, often I, myself, don’t know who the murderer is until they reveal themselves as I write.
*Feline cerebellar hypoplasia is a non-progressive, non-contagious condition, caused by the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls fine motor skills and coordination, is underdeveloped at birth. “CH” cats are often called “wobbly cats.”
Who is your favorite character?
My favorite character from my own series or from someone else’s?
In my Crazy Cat Lady series, it would be hard to say. Of course, I love my hero Lynley, but there are so many others. Her fearless eighty-two-year-old mother Carol, her lovely teenage granddaughter Seleia, her shelter buddy Frannie, her MacKay clan mate, lesbian lawyer Halle, and her friend and often-savior, the hunky animal cop, Special Agent Denny Paris. But the human element aside, my fave would have to be Tinkerbelle, the floofy black matron kitty who, in spite of being tiny, is absolutely fearless. Tink is a senior cat who, among other things, has been trained as a therapy cat, and accompanies Lynley to assisted living facilities and memory care units, as well as visiting hospice patients. Tinkerbelle is modeled from my real-life kitty of the same name. I enjoy putting my own cats in the story, though since Lynley has eight and I only have three, some are entirely fictional.
My favorite character from another series is Joe Grey, from the Joe Grey mysteries by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. He is a talking cat, descended from mysterious Celtic ancestors. He is also very good at sleuthing out the bad guys.
What is your writing process–from spark of an idea to published?
I’m not sure how the Crazy Cat Lady series originally came into my mind. I just started writing Cats’ Eyes one day when I was on vacation in Mazatlán, and it snowballed from there. I have so many ideas for stories that I’m currently in various phases of four more after Cat Café!
Once an idea comes to me, I give it a title and a tag-line. Cat Café’s tagline is “A body is discovered on the floor of the cat café, and all the black cats are missing!” These may change and evolve as the story unfolds, but it gives me a place to start.
My first draft is all about the story. For me, writing is like reading, only slower. Often I don’t know what’s going to happen, so this is an exciting phase for me. I skip over subjects that will require research and don’t worry much about getting the words right. If anyone read the first draft, they would never read my work again!
In the second draft, I plug in the research and polish the wording. I look for plot holes and inconsistencies. Then I print it out.
I read the print version and make edits. By the end, the pages are covered with red! Sometimes I read it aloud, which shows me how the words flow.
Once I make these changes, I give it to my beta reader with a set of questions for her to answer when she is finished, the first of which is “When did you guess the murderer?”
From there it goes to my editor, and once she gets through with it, I order a proof copy. Holding a physical book in my hand is incredibly revealing, and I make many changes at this point. For Cat Café, I did two entire proofs, and after all that, I suddenly saw that I needed to change the ending!
Why a series?
When I enjoy a story, I don’t want it to end, and I know many people feel the same way. A series allows for the characters to develop, learn, and change. I have written stand-alone books as well, and they have a quite different feel, more encapsulated and complete within one volume.
My Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series begins with Cats’ Eyes, where a fifty-eight-year-old Lynley is bemoaning her advancing age. When Lynley’s elderly kitty discovers a stolen uncut diamond, Lynley finds herself accused of murdering the thieves, and age becomes least of her concerns.
In book 2, Copy Cats, Lynley exposes a breed cat counterfeiting ring and becomes the target of a serial killer who murders with a grisly cat-like claw. The crimes are connected, taking crazy to a whole new level.
Cat’s Paw, book 3, finds Lynley attending an elite creative retreat at the world-famous Cloverleaf Animal Sanctuary in the San Juan Islands. Two suspicious deaths send Lynley running back to Portland, but murder follows in her wake.
By book 4, Cat Call, Lynley has passed the big six-oh and is no longer concerned about her age, so when a friend suffers a bizarre accident on the set of a television pilot, she takes over as cat handler without a second thought. Then she finds out the show is “hexed” and murder is waiting in the wings.
What’s the newest book in your series?
That brings us to Cat Café, the 5th installment in the series. Someone is targeting very senior citizens, and when the elderly owner of the Blue Cat café turns up murdered, Lynley’s mom could be next. A black cat rescue, an antique photograph, an elaborate payback. Is this killer seeking justice or vengeance? With death as the objective, the results are the same.
How are your stories different?
I have so many things for Lynley to do, and since she is a retiree, she has the time to do them all! In the book after this one, Cosmic Cat (releasing in 2019), she takes part in a Comic-con, and in Cat Conundrum (2020), a locked-room mystery, she travels to Long Beach, Washington for a Cat Summit. I try to keep her moving around. Though we love her familiar neighborhood with a reoccurring family of characters, doing new things keep the stories fresh.
Why do readers love your books?
It’s all about cats! I recently received a lovely review that said,
“…I knew this novel was about cats but its theme is cats! Cats are as much the main characters as the main character is!…”
Many supposedly cat-themed stories have only a passing cat or two; some, only a cat on the cover! My books run the opposite direction. For cat people, my books are satisfying as well as informative, since each chapter is prefaced with a cat fact, tip, or trick to tickle your feline friend’s fancy.
Thanks for stopping by! Where can readers find you?
Thanks again for your cat-like curiosity, and for participating in my Cat Café Book Launch Blog Hop. Tomorrow November 2, 2018 is the final stop on the hop:
Your readers can keep up with me at the following sites:
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