Sneaky Interviews Oliver and Max, the Cat Characters of J. Schlenker

Oliver by J. Schlenker
Max by J. Schlenker

I have the honor of interviewing two cats today. One shares the namesake of my author’s cat, Oliver, and the other is named Max. Good day, lads. Welcome to my blog. Can please you share with my readers the name of your author and what books you’ve both appeared in?


Max meows: Our author is J. Schlenker. She wrote “The Mysterious Butler and Other Life Mysteries” (A Collection of Short Stories). Oliver and I are in the story, Nine Lives, in that book.

Are you based on a real cat such as your author’s? If so, please give further details.

Oliver says:  One of my lives, the one of Buddha, is based partially on a true story about my author’s cat.

Can you share an excerpt from one of your books that features you in an important scene? If so, please include it.

Oliver announces:  This is me starting to tell my tale.

Nine Lives

“You look old,” the white fuzz ball of a kitten said, keeping a cautious distance from the fat cat. The old cat, almost the same color as himself, but marked with age, sat curled up next to a bowl of milk.

“If you’re looking to get some of my milk, that’s no way to go about it,” the fat cat replied with a sluggish raise of his eyelids.

“No, still nursing. Have no need of your milk.”

“Ugh,” the fat cat grunted, dropping his eyelids back down to a narrow slit.

The small kitten edged closer but toppled over on the fat cat after being distracted by a butterfly.

“Meow,” came the gruff voice of the fat cat. “Why are you still here? Why don’t you go somewhere else to play? Find another cat to bother.”

“You don’t have to be mean,” the kitten said, jumping back and sliding over on its side.

“I saw your brothers and sisters earlier. Why aren’t you off playing with them?”

“I didn’t want to. Besides I’m the runt. They ran off and left me.”

“Oh, you want to bother me then, do you?”

“No, not bother. I came to ask you questions. My name is Max.”

“Well, Max, could you kindly come back after my nap?”

“When will that be?” asked Max.

“How about tomorrow? No, make that next week,” the big fat cat said, hardly moving his lips, as it took up far too much energy. But Max just sat there silently, staring.

The big cat half-opened an eye and cringed. “You still here?” Max sat in silence, all wide-eyed.

“What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue?” The big cat almost laughed, but his rheumatism was acting up, so he stifled the urge for any kind of movement, even his mouth.

“No, the cat doesn’t have my tongue. My mama said be respectful because you’re old, and she said you were wise.” Max stiffened in reverence. “She said you were on the last of your lives. She said you are called Oliver, but before that was called Buddha.”

“Your mom knows about me, does she?”

Max nodded with wide-eyed awe and waited for Oliver to speak, but nothing came but a low snore. Max ever so lightly touched Oliver’s leg with his paw. Nothing. Max tapped harder until Oliver jumped up in a growl. “What is it, you young whippersnapper?”

“I just want to know,” Max said, keeping his position, remembering what his mama said, show no fear.

“Know what?” Oliver snapped.

“About your lives?”

“You’re a persistent chap, aren’t you? Hmm, well, I’ve been persistent in my day. Don’t get to nine lives without being persistent.” Oliver repositioned himself and took a slurp of milk. “Well, I guess since you’re here. Nothing else to do these days. Might as well make yourself comfortable.” Oliver looked young Max up and down. “This your first life?”

“Yeah, how did you know?”

“Written all over you.”

Oliver took another slurp of milk. “I go back, way back. Ever hear of the pyramids?”

Max shook his head.

“Well, they’re in Egypt, a far piece from here. That was where I spent my first life. Barely weaned when an Egyptian princess took a fancy to me. In the nick of time, too. I was orphaned.”

“Oh?” Max questioned in awe.

“Yes, my mama was hit by a huge obelisk. Faulty construction. Happened back then, too.”

Max looked puzzled. “It’s a huge pillar. Well, never mind. Not really pertinent to the story. There were human lives lost, too. Not that there wasn’t law suits. Shifty lawyers back then, too. But being a cat, I had no recourse. All I cared about was that I lost my mama, along with all my brothers and sisters. But, like you, being the runt, I tagged behind. That saved my life. Maybe it was karma. I don’t remember my lives before being a cat. Maybe it was just dumb, blind luck. I didn’t think so at first. I just curled up into a ball and whimpered until someone picked me up. It was the princess who saved me from a life of begging.”

“A real-life princess? Wow,” said Max. “Was she beautiful?”

“No, not in the least.”

Max looked down in disappointment.

“But not being beautiful was a good thing. At least for me. Now her sister, Neffie, as everyone called her, was drop dead gorgeous, but no, Miffen, was a little on the pudgy side. I’m sorry to say that people called her Muffin behind her back. But Muffin, I mean Miffen, had the biggest heart.”

“Why was not being a beautiful princess good?” Max interjected.

“Because not everyone can be beautiful. Like I said, she was kind. She didn’t have any toms all over her like beautiful women. Her attention wasn’t divided on this or that, not the trivial things that interest most women, hair brushes, hair ornaments, lip rouge and the like. Time goes on, but humans change little. She lavished most of her attention on me, at least for a long time. Oh, she took in other strays from time to time, but I was her first and was always dearest to her heart, until…”

“Until?” Max perked up.

“She fell in love. Not with a prince but with a lowly worker, a stonecutter. Well, at first I thought no worries. But then, one day, she scrambled off to spy him through the reeds. He saw her. He knew how she felt. They lost all abandon.”

Max sat up straighter.

That was pawsome. Thanks for that purrfect excerpt, Oliver. You and Max are great cat actors.

What do you like most about your role in your authors’ books?

Oliver answers: Educating Max. Possibly he can avoid some of my mistakes.

You are doing a great job. I’m sure he appreciates that.

Are you a talking cat in your books or just a silent one like I am who just meows occasionally?

Oliver replies: Really, I’m not much of a talker or a meower, mostly a lounger in my old age.

I see. With age, comes wisdom.

What advice would you give other cat characters?

Oliver states: Not all dogs are bad.

Very true. My co-partner in the Cobble Cove mysteries is Fido, a golden retriever. He’s a nice guy but not all that sharp. I’ve also just started featuring dogs and other animals on this blog. I still think cats are the superior species, though.

Do you have any new books coming out? Please give dates and details.

Max explains: Our author J. Schlenker’s  current project is Sally. It will be fictional history, based on a woman she met when she was eight years of age. She was born into slavery in 1858. She lived to be 110 years old. Our author projects it will be out in late spring or early summer.

That sounds very interesting. I will tell my readers to keep an eye out for it.

Are you and/or your author on social media? If so, please list your links.

Max indicates: Here are our author’s links. You can contact us through any of them:

Thanks for the interview, guys. Paws-up to you and your author on your future books and best whiskers also to your author on her participation in Mystery Thriller Week.

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