Through my work as a copy editor at Lyrical Press, Inc. I've had the pleasure of working with author Sheryl Nantus, whose novel, What God and Cats Know is releasing early next year. It would appear that her star is on the up and up, because she's also been offered a contract with Samhain Publishing for another novel.
What sparked the idea for What God and Cats Know?
I've always loved to read about shapeshifters and cat people, but wondered about problems within the family unit. What if you fell in love with a human? What would your children have to deal with? How would other "cat people" deal with a half-human, half-cat person? And what if you had to leave the family unit for some reason—how do you fit in a world that isn't yours?
Did the novel take a long time to write and did you face any obstacles?
To be honest, What God and Cats Know originated as a NaNoWriMo novel—2007 to be specific. I ploughed through the first 50 000 words in the month allowed then finished it up and let it sit for a few weeks until going back to edit, edit, edit! The toughest thing I had to do was walk away from the novel and let it age for a time before going back with a clear head and able to look at it with a relatively unbiased eye. It's hard to hurt your babies, but it's a necessary evil if you want to produce good work.
Tell us about the cats in your life.
Ah, now... I have known many wonderful fuzzaloids and loved them all dearly. The one in the book, Jazz, was a real cat who was given to me by my sister, who found the kitten pressed against her basement window in the middle of a roaring rainstorm. She moved in with me and lived a long, and I hope, happy life. She passed on three years ago and I still get weepy thinking about her. A white puffball, she had a lot of attitude and loved to snuggle.
Razzmatazz was around at the same time as Jazz and was a tortoiseshell street cat who ripped the screen door open the first night she stayed in my apartment and went out. Came back the next morning with the usual demands for food and we reached an agreement. The two of them were a very interesting pair, with their "cat fu", which consisted of lying on the ground facing each other, swatting with their paws. Lazy, yes.
Right now I'm living with Mitchell, a shelter cat who has to be the biggest cat I've ever seen. Well over twenty pounds, he's a tabby who won't shut up and merps for everything, and is the biggest baby and coward in the world. But he's a sweetie and always demands lap time, especially when I'm working on a book. Go figure.
Describe What God and Cats Know in three words.
Cat. People. Sex.
Who are some of your favourite authors, and why?
First, I have to give a shout out to Rudyard Kipling—yes, he's an oldie, but I still love to curl up with a copy of The Jungle Book and enjoy the stories. There's so much in Rikki Tikki Tavi and The White Seal that I keep finding on each reading.
Present-day, I love Patricia Briggs and her Mercy Thompson series. I like the way she puts a different spin on the werewolf myth and really creates a world you can see happening. And the woman can write!
Julia Spencer-Fleming's one of my favorite authors with her Miller's Kill series, involving a priest and a policeman who are in love, but can't act on it—at least not for the first few books. It's a really good series if you love mysteries and well-developed characters who tug at your heart.
Care to tell us about some of your existing and/or forthcoming projects?
Right now I'm launching into the production of Blaze of Glory, coming out from Samhain Publishing in April, 2010!
Here's the story!
Saving the world is easy for a superhero—unless you’re a fraud.
Jo Tanis is a superhero, fighting evil on the city streets, using her ability to feed off electromagnetic energy and fire off charges—and it’s all just a show. The Agency captures her and others like her when their powers begin to manifest, pitting them against each other in staged, gladiatorial fights. An explosive implant on the back of her neck assures she’ll keep right on smiling for the camera and beating up the bad guys.
When Earth comes under attack, suddenly the show becomes deadly real. Unable to deal with a real alien, the “supers” are falling in droves. Millions of innocent civilians are going to die…unless Jo can cobble together a team from among the fake heroes and villains the Agency enslaved. Including Hunter, who not only promises to show her how to deactivate the implants, but seems to know more than he should about how the mysterious Agency operates.
Forcing a rag-tag bunch of former enemies to work together is the least of Jo’s problems. The trick is determining if Hunter is friend or foe—and becoming the hero everyone thought she was before the world is destroyed for real.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write, write, write. Read, read, read. Do not be a snob about different genres, get out there and read a mystery, a romance, a fantasy book, nonfiction books, read everything. You'll learn so much by varying your reading than if you keep to the same old, same old.
Any useful links?
The Absolute Write Forums—here you'll find agents, publishers and authors giving tips and advice about the industry. You can check on possible frauds and get good information. Don't leave home without it!