Blaize Clement is the author of Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund, Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof, Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues, and Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs. The latest book in the series, Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons, was released on January 4, 2011. Blaize has been a stay at home mom, dressmaker, caterer, family therapist, and writer, some of them all at the same time. She has never been a pet sitter, but has shared her home with dogs, cats, birds, fish, and neurotic gerbils. No snakes. She has a thing about snakes. She has written several parenting books, numerous essays and short stories and a play. Blaize lives in Sarasota, Florida.
I’m delighted to welcome Blaize to The Conscious Cat today.
How did you first come up with the idea for the Dixie Hemingway series?
Actually, I never thought, “I believe I’ll write a mystery series,” it just sort of happened. I lead a workshop every week in which we grab a word and write like crazy for five minutes without any plan. I don’t remember what the word was, but in one of those writing bursts I ended up with scene in which a man drowned in a cat’s water bowl. That became the start of Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, which was the first book in the series.
How much of yourself is in Dixie’s character?
Friends tell me that Dixie’s smart-alecky mouth is exactly like mine, but I’m sure they exaggerate. I do agree that she and I share a deep feeling about the importance of family and loyalty. We also share an appreciation for the differences between people’s races, religions, and sexual orientations. We both pretty much think the world would be a better place if people just minded their own business and respected one another.
I was first drawn to your books by the adorable covers. Anything with a cat on it will always get my attention! How important are covers to the success of cozy mysteries like yours?
I think cover art is important to the sales of any book. I’ve liked all the Dixie covers, but my favorite was the very first one on the hardback edition. That book shot up to the best-seller list as soon as it came out, and I think the cover had a lot to do with it.
What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
I usually start writing around ten in the morning, break for a quick lunch, and write until around four or five. During that time, of course, I may leave the computer to stir the soup or throw a load of laundry in the dryer, but mostly I’m writing. After I’m in bed, I think of ideas to insert into what I wrote during the day. I used to scribble those ideas on a post-it and stick it to my bedside table, but now I send it to myself on my laptop which is never away from my side. But I don’t do much actual writing at night because my brain is too tired. In the morning, I write in a journal before I get up. If I’m having plot problems, I may work then out in the journal and then take those ideas with me when I start on the manuscript again.
What do you love most about being a writer?
The writing. If I go a day without writing, I get antsy and weird. I’m sort of hard-wired to write. Part of my love of writing is a love of words. I can get gob-smacked over a new word that I’d never heard before, just awe-struck like other people get at seeing a rock star. I love sentences, too. Sometimes I read a book over and over just because I’m in love with the way the sentences march along in a wonderful rhythm.
What do you like least about being a writer?
The necessity of self-promotion. I don’t do that well, and half the time I forget that I’m supposed to be doing it at all. Some people are great at it, and I envy their talent. They blog and twitter and facebook and do virtual tours and send out cards and trailers, and I’m just amazed that they have the energy and know-how to do all that.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by writers like the poet David Whyte who are able to send word-arrows straight to the heart. I’m also inspired by philosophers and thinkers who rise above the petty, silly things we waste time with and remind us of what’s really important in life, like love and friendship and home. Some of those are contemporary and some have been around for centuries. When I’m writing, I always read some Greek classic, one of the tragedies or comedies, before I go to sleep at night. I want the largeness of those ideas to seep into my mind. I usually manage to slip a line from one of those classics into each Dixie story. It’s a little way of acknowledging those great minds and thanking them.
What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?
A young couple drove several hundred miles to bring me a framed plaque titled “The Official Dixie Hemingway Fan Club.” The plaque had photos of all their pets with their names and titles of President, VP, Secretary, etc, of the club. I was so touched that they’d gone to so much time and trouble to do that! The plaque hangs in my office and gives me a lift every time I look at it.
Tell us a little bit about your own pets.
My last pet was a beautiful Abyssinian who warmed my feet at night. At the moment, I have a grand-dog named Zoey. Zoey is two years old, and quite a character.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading a lovely new book by Bonnie Pemberton, a fellow member of Cat Writers of America. It’s titled The Cat Master, and is about the gulf between the Ferals and the Indoors. I’m not very far into it, but it promises to be a cat-hair raising adventure.
Are you working on another book?
I just finished the seventh book in the Dixie Hemingway series. I don’t know what the title will be, but it’s about the killing competition in the world of high fashion.
Thank you so much for your time, Blaize and much success with Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons!
You’re welcome, Ingrid! Thanks for inviting me.
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My review of Cat Sitter Among the Pidgeons