Sneaky Interviews Elvira from Susan Lynn Solomon’s Emlyn Goode Mysteries

Wow, Meow. Just looking at the guest whose tail wagged in, I see this will be an interesting interview. What is your name and your author’s name, Miss?

Hello, hello, Sneaky. Elvira here. I’m sure you know me—I’m the real heroine of Susan Lynn Solomon’s stories. You just can’t imagine the trouble my human, Emlyn Goode and her friend, Rebecca Nurse, would have gotten into if I hadn’t adopted Emlyn the day she showed up at Rebecca’s shop. I mean, who else has been around to save their bacon… Speaking of bacon… ahhh. Oh, sorry. It’s just that the thought of the food Emlyn cooks up—if that isn’t witchcraft, I don’t know what is.

Food certainly casts a spell for us cats.  What book(s) have you appeared in? Please list them and their genre.

Susan Lynn Solomon human has told of four times I had to step in to pull Emlyn back before she stepped over the edge of a cliff. Solomon calls each of these stories an Emlyn Goode Mystery… Harrumph! I call them examples of human’s foolishness.

The first story—a novel—was The Magic of Murder. This book tells how I met Emlyn. She’s a writer, you see, and she was working on a short story about a woman who wants to use the “old ways” to keep a man from abusing her—leave it to humans to treat each other that way! Emlyn didn’t know anything about witchcraft, so she went to Rebecca’s shop (Rebecca sells all kinds of things related to the craft and knows how to use them… sort of). I was in the shop waiting for the human I was supposed to be with. Cat god help me, that turned out to be Emlyn! I mean, she didn’t even know she was a direct descendent of Sarah Goode, a witch hanged in Salem! I had to push her to learn about that. And then a Niagara Falls detective—the partner of her boyfriend, Roger Frey—was murdered, and Emlyn thought she knew enough magic to find out who did it. Goodness, she nearly got us both killed!

The second time Emlyn decided to solve a murder is in the short story called Bella Vita. This time, Emlyn found car burning in the lot behind Bella Vita Hair Salon. Could Emlyn keep her nose out of this? Of course not.

Then, in a novel called Dead Again, Emlyn’s mother came back from Florida for a high school reunion, and got accused of a murder that happened 40 years ago. I couldn’t let Emlyn’s mother be arrested—hey, I liked the woman! So, I pushed Emlyn to find out who did do it, and when the killer came after her, who was there to save her? Me, that’s who!

Now there’s a new novelette called The Day the Music Died. I’ll tell you more about this later.

Pawsome. You are quite accomplished.

Are you in a series? If so, please give information about it.

From what I’ve just told you, Sneaky, you can see the Emlyn Goode Mysteries is a series of stories featuring yours truly. But, as Susan Lynn Solomon says, they don’t have to be read in any order to learn about me and the job I do to protect my human—and believe me when I say it isn’t easy. In The Magic of Murder, without any training Emlyn tried a spell that told the killer who she was. Do I need to say what happened after that? A bottle bomb came flying through her window. Well, at least almost getting me killed taught my human how much she needs me.

Then, in Dead Again, her google-eyes at Roger Frey got his estranged wife all jealous… You know, Sneaky, I can’t really blame Emlyn for that—Roger’s kind of a hunk, if you know what I mean. If I were human… Anyhow, when the woman came after Emlyn and Rebecca, it’s a good thing I slowed her down until Roger got there.

Now in The Day the Music Died, another killer—the one who murdered Amanda Stone, a 1980s rock icon who was a friend of Emlyn’s mother—found out Emlyn had what he wanted, and the only reason that guy didn’t shoot Emlyn and Rebecca is because I went after him—and got my leg broken in the process.

Very mice.

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

To be quite honest, I live in Susan Lynn Solomon’s memory. I’m the cat that adopted her when she was a child. Yes, I had white fur, but I wasn’t albino. And pink eyes? Pull-ese! I have no idea where she came up with that. And putting me into the middle of murders? I was a peaceful cat. I liked to sun in the window, eat anything someone put in my bowl, and sleep. Susan, on the other hand, was something of a brat. Into everything. When her mother would see a mess she’d made, she would point at me, as if I had left those fingerprints on the walls and ceilings. Often the mess she’d make was in the kitchen, where she hummed while mixing all kinds of things in a bowl. Come to think of it, she was always a bit of a witch. But, I guess she comes by it naturally—I knew her grandmother.

Interesting. I look a bit like Debbie’s cat because we are both Siamese, but I don’t think we are exactly the same. I am much younger and more handsome IMFO (In my furry opinion).

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

Of course, I’m involved in almost every scene in these stories, and frequently the detectives ask for my help. This scene describes one of those times:

As soon as I heard Roger’s Trailblazer back out of my driveway, I pushed myself up from the chair (my ribs heavily bandaged, I couldn’t rise gracefully). At the kitchen counter, I grabbed my purse. “Come on,” I said to Rebecca.

Leaning on her crutch, she scratched her chin. “Come on where?”

“To Amanda Stone’s house, of course. There has to be something the cops missed.”

“It’s a crime scene. It’s probably roped-off. If we go in, we’ll get arrested.”

I grumbled. “If you’re afraid of something like that, I’ll go alone.”

I took a few slow steps, then stopped. My pink-eyed fur-ball was parked in the doorway. “Get out of my way, animal,” I snarled.

The cat hissed at me. I’m certain she’d said, Who are you calling an animal?

I refused to be deterred. “I said, move over!”

Elvira shook her head.

I stomped my foot. “What are you doing, cat?”

Behind me, Rebecca laugh. When I turned my head to her, she said, “Roger told Elvira to keep you from getting in trouble.”

I tried to lean down and shove my cat aside, then abruptly stood up, holding my ribs.

Still laughing, Rebecca said, “That’s the other reason we can’t go anywhere.”

“What is?”

“You’re not able to drive, and neither am I. And you can’t call a cab, because I saw Roger pocket your wallet.” She took the purse from my hand, and put it back on the counter. “That’s why the guys didn’t worry about leaving us here. So, come into the living room, and pour us some wine.”

“I can’t just waste the evening drinking,” I whined. “I have to do something. I feel as though my life’s been dropped on its head. Did Amanda lie? If she didn’t, after all these years, why’d she show up now? I need to know.”

She took my arm, and thumbed away the tears that formed. “I know. And I want to help you. But this time we’ll have to figure it out here.” She smiled at me. “Armchair detectives, like the kind you always read about. Do that, and maybe we won’t almost get killed again.”

I sniffed. “Okay, you win. I’ll get the wine. You get Sarah’s book from my desk. See if she wrote something that might get my brain working.”

I might have been wrong, but I thought I heard my cat sigh with relief.

Two glasses of a good chardonnay I’d purchased last summer during a tasting at Arrowhead Spring Vineyard did little to calm the quivering in my chest. Each sip recalled the wine we’d had in Amanda Stone’s living room that afternoon. Pressed in a corner of my sofa with Elvira snuggled tight at my side, I stared into the darkness on the other side of the French door.

Fortunately, Rebecca was able to focus. In the overstuffed chair next to my bookcases, she carefully turned the brittle pages of Sarah Goode’s Book of Shadows.

“Here’s something that could make you feel a little better.” She looked up from the old calf-bound book. “Sandalwood chips, red carnation petals, and rosemary leaves, crushed in a green glass jar that’s then filled with olive oil. Sarah wrote that she used this to ease the anxiety of a farmer named Henry Clark during an extended dry period.”

Elvira sat up, and nodded—at least, it looked like she did.

I sighed. “Did it work?”

Rebecca glanced down, turned the page, then turned back to the page she’d been reading. “It doesn’t say. Apparently Sarah got hanged a few days after she wrote this entry.”

“Great,” I said, while refilling my glass. “Rub that tincture all over my body, and whoever killed Amanda will smell me as soon as he turns onto River Road. Then, he’ll know exactly what house to break into next, and come here and hang me.”

Rebecca closed the book. With her head still down, she raised her eyes. “I’m trying to help.”

I closed my eyes and took a breath. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“Look, Emlyn, Amanda Stone probably lied when she claimed to be your mother. I mean, what proof did she have?”

“I don’t know…” I groaned. “And now that she’s dead I’ll never know.”

Wow! That was the cat’s meow. I am clapping my paws together.

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

There’s a lot I like. I get fed—Emlyn’s a good cook—for a human. In a new book I got to eat shrimp Alfredo… Yummm. I think her cooking is why Roger Frey loves her.  Also, I have the run of Emlyn’s house, and everyone knows that the overstuffed wingback chair next to her bookcases is my place. No one is allowed to sit there unless I let them.

Most of all, I like that when the humans are going bonkers, it’s me that gets them back in control. And, when they get in the kind of trouble that could get them killed, I’m there to protect them. Why shouldn’t that be my role? I always know what’s going on before the humans do. That kind of magic is in my genetic makeup because my cat ancestors go back as far as Emlyn’s and Rebecca’s. My ancestor was there the day Sarah Goode got hanged. The people in Salem called her a witch just because she knew about plants and herbs, used then to help her neighbors. Because my ancestor couldn’t stop the craziness in 1692 is why Emlyn’s the human I waited for in Rebecca Nurse’s shop—the human I’m supposed to be with. My job is to keep what happened to old Sarah from happening to Emlyn.

You have a pawsome genealogy and a great instinct for saving your human characters.

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

I don’t talk, at least not the way humans do. I meeeowww, and growl, and hiss, and snort, and throw looks. Still, Emlyn and Rebecca understand exactly what I’m saying… most of the time. Also, Roger is beginning to understand me. But, Emlyn sometimes tells people I’ve meowed one thing when I’ve very clearly told her something completely different. She’s only a human, you see, and lacks the intelligence and sophistication we cats have, so I can forgive her.

I agree. Human cat characters are just as limited in reading cat characters as real humans are deciphering real cat sounds.

What advice would you give other cat characters?

Let me see. Oh, I think the most important thing is that they have to be kind to their humans. After all, humans are such simple souls, and they need their cats to guide them. Also, humans need a lot of affection. Purring and rubbing against them is soothing—and it gets us fed and gives us time to do more important things. Finally, cats need to take good care of our human pets, keep them properly groomed. You just can’t believe what a mess humans can make of themselves.

MOL (Meow Out Loud). So true.

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

Actually, my latest book—a novelette, really—came out just a few weeks ago. It’s called, The Day the Music Died. I mentioned it earlier. This is what I told Susan Lynn Solomon happened:

Amanda Stone, a rock and roll icon, vanished at the peak of her career in 1986. She surfaces in her hometown of Niagara Falls soon after the death of Emlyn Goode’s mother. Stone asks to see Emlyn, she says, to share memories of her high school friend, Anne Goode. What Stone actually tells her bounces Emlyn’s life on its head. When later that day Stone is murdered, a shaken Emlyn must use her ancient relative’s craft to solve the crime by disinterring the secret of what drove Stone from the spotlight thirty years before. If Emlyn fails, she’ll never know if what Stone told her is true.

Humans can find this story, on a thing called Amazon, and see the burden I carry protecting Emlyn Goode from herself:

https://www.amazon.com/Day-Music-Died-Emlyn-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0747V1DPT

And, even as we speak, Sneaky, I’m dictating a new novel to Susan Lynn Solomon—this one is about the trouble I had to pull my human out of when someone started murdering members of her writers’ group.

That sounds pawsome. Debbie is planning to start a new Cobble Cove mystery soon, and I’m sending her some ideas for it. She doesn’t always heed my advice, but I did purr-suade her to add my photo to the cover of our latest book, Written in Stone. and now I caught a glimpse of her notes and see she’s holding a Name that Kitten contest for a new kitten that she plans to add to Cobble Cove. I can’t wait.especially since the kitten will be a girl cat.

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

My author is on social media. She can be found at these places:

http://www.susanlynnsolomon.com

http://www.facebook.com/susanlynnsolomon

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-solomon-8183b129

Great! Thanks for the interview, Elvira, and best whiskers to you and your author on your future books and stories.

 

Sneaky’s Interview of Carlos, Star of A.B. Funkhauser’s New Release, SHELL GAME

Good day, dark-haired fellow. What is your name and your author’s name?

I have many names, but for the purpose of this exercise I’ll answer to ‘Carlos.’ A.B. Funkhauser, the author who happened upon my tale, took it upon herself to exaggerate certain facts. Asserting that I am ‘Wonderful’ is a case in point. Though I found this amusing, it is also quite ludicrous.

Mice to meet you, Carlos. What book(s) have you appeared in? Please list them and their genre.

I can only admit to one—Funkhauser’s current SHELL GAME—which hints at other worldly qualities that I won’t deny. The writer calls it a “cat dramedy with death and laughs.” Her publisher calls it “dark humor.” I see it more as biographical, though the humans featured are quite insane, and therefore strain credulity. Like her other books, SHELL GAME is a “gonzo” piece which means that the humans are exaggerated to get specific points across. Funky (my name for her) believes that she must make difficult things humorous in order for humans to access the themes and subtexts without the emotional baggage and cultural markers humans seem to get so caught up on.

I love your nickname for your author. I must think of one for Debbie. Your book certainly sounds unique.

Are you in a series? If so, please give information about it.

Funkhauser calls SHELL GAME a “black cat novel,” which tells me that she might have more planned. A black cat named “Mausie” appears in her as yet released POOR UNDERTAKER, but that story begins in 1937. If you believe that Mausie is me, then I’ll allow you to think it.

Cat characters have a way of transcending time and place and can easily change names. I, however, am the only main cat character in Debbie’s Cobble Cove mysteries, even though she’s featured a variety of other felines in her short stories and novella.

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

The cat I am based on and the cat that I am are one and the same. Like Carlos, I have many names: Puma, Panther, Klara (?), and Carlos are but a few. But my birth name, to use a Homo sap label, is Kobe, so named for a basketball star, I believe. Like the character in the story, I began my life in one home and then moved on to another and another. This is quite natural for me, as the book will show. I credit Funky with taking the real human issue of indoor v. outdoor cats by the horns. Not all of us were meant for confinement. I love my humans very much, but I need to be free too. Human beings, in their desire to protect me from what I am, have tried to hobble me, confine me, and deny my true nature. Luckily for me, I found not one but two writers—Bri Volinz, wrote a lovely Foreward to SHELL GAME detailing some of the aforementioned views, and Funkhauser. Both understand what a cat is and what humans could be if they would only follow our lead.

It’s great to have progressive human writers speaking for you (and catkind) in their works.

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

SHELL GAME looks at a community coping with unwanted change. The mechanisms used range from silly to life-threatening. In this scene, I escape captivity along with my confrères:

In the melee, Carlos made out other shapes—the American Shorthair, Maine Coon, Scottish Rag Doll, Sphinx, and Peterbald, along with a Common, like himself, though snipped at the tail to look like a Manx—all employed in the service of the kooky humans.

“Gimme a Himalayan,” a throaty female with a smoker’s rasp gasped, as the sweet Munchkin dragged across her back gave out, exhausted from its efforts.

“Blood letting is essential to our beliefs,” a hooded freak with a blue YoYo explained to a quivering couple. Clearly “new,” Carlos could not discern if they were excited or fearful.

“We don’t force religious beliefs on anyone, per se,” YoYo continued, as he rocked the cradle with the spinning orb, “but it helps if you have a healthy appreciation for the beauty that is cat.”

***

When muffled voices, signifying meal-time, bled under the door, Carlos made ready. He had no compunction about dying from exposure after a life outdoors. Heck, he’d even go gracefully under the wheels of a careless driver if given a choice. What he would not do was succumb to this perverse charade.

He was tired of being a loofa.

Maybe it was the darkness of the windowless hole he’d been placed in that gave him the advantage, or maybe it was human arrogance that presupposed the feline’s reluctance to fight back. But fight back he did. With a snap of his powerful hind legs, he vaulted at the hooded figure that removed the top of his cage, catching the fool on his left eye with claws grown too long in captivity.

The idiot responded with a prolonged howl that did not bring friends to assist, but a large ladder and a pair of two by fours propped against the wall instead. Freeing themselves from their pitiless moorings, the second-grade planks gave way, bringing the ladder along with it, each falling with enough force to set the cages on edge like dominoes in a free fall.

If his compatriots could have talked, they would have sung his praises. If they could have voted, they would have elected him to office. They were free!

Carlos the Wonder Cat had done a great thing. He was just getting started.

Pawsome writing on your author’s part and acting on yours.

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

It is gratifying to me that Funky settled on cats as opposed to dogs. Canines are valued for their fealty and their slavish desire to be taken care of. Whereas felines are prized for their calm, self-sufficiency. I don’t know if she is consciously aware of this, but in introducing cats like me into her novels, Funky has set up a perfect base of comparison between us and the humans: the stolid self-sufficiency of the cat versus the pitiless second guessing of the unquenchable human being. Some big cats live in prides, while others like me trip between family settings and the life of a solitary. If humans are to learn anything from me, it is that there is nothing shameful in being alone; nothing to apologize for in taking care of oneself. At the same time, care must be taken to look out for those who can’t figure it out for themselves. These ones, whatever their species, need a little push.

Well said, Carlos. I totally agree.

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

Like you, I meow and purr at the humans. They expect that. Amongst ourselves, we converse either ultra-sonically or through a series of chirps, chirrups, and hisses. Humans, as we all know, love to infer. A glance, a nuzzle, a stretch can mean the world to them, and I don’t mind letting them think their thoughts as long as they respect the laws of nature and don’t get too carried away with the laws of man.

Purr-cisely.

What advice would you give other cat characters?

Don’t act like a dog. Not ever.

Purrfect advice. I let my dog co-star Fido think his scenes are special when we all know it’s my feline acting is superior to any canine’s.

Do you have any new books coming out?

SHELL GAME will release as soon as my dear perfectionist Funky gives the book back to her publisher. She abhors spelling errors—they keep her awake at night—and so is committed to delivering the cleanest manuscript she can.

Best whiskers to you and your author on your upcoming release.

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

Social media is a human invention so you can only find me through Funky’s links and even then, I might not be able to answer, especially if I’m traveling. Please send all inquiries through her email: a.b.funkhauser@rogers.com or Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser. You can also follower her on Facebook (that makes her so happy): https://www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound/.

If you do write, Funky will always answer you. Letters make her happy too. Oh, and I mustn’t forget her Amazon author page. This is where all her books are listed: https://www.amazon.com/A.-B.-Funkhauser/e/B00WMRK4Q4/.

Thank you, Carlos. It’s been a pleasure having you here, and I know that the cat lovers out there who read this blog will be dying to get their paws on you and Funky’s book as soon as it hits the presses.