Meet Author Shirley Rousseau-Murphy
Learn more about the woman behind the Joe Grey mystery series, including the latest installment, Cat Pay the Devil.
Stacy N. Hackett
Why did you begin writing the Joe Grey series?
|Author Shirley Rousseau-Murphy with her cat ELT. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Rousseau-Murphy)
It all started with a little, stray calico cat in our neighborhood. Nobody wanted her, so of course, she found a home with us. She was so like a person. She became the inspiration for The Catsworld Portal. I was so happy with that book that I started the Joe Grey series.
Joe was based on a real cat, a rescued cat full of personality and lots of lip. He was the perfect choice. Choosing the setting for the series was easy. California was a natural choice, as it’s our home (though we were living in Georgia at the time). Carmel was the inspiration for the city because of all the unique rooflines and trees. The rooftops are a great thing — they’re perfect for cats to use to get around.
What is your inspiration for the next installment in the series?
The next book will be a Christmas book, called Cat Deck the Halls. It will be released in late November, in time for Christmas. I always start a book with an image in my head. Once I see the image, I have to go with it. For this next book, I had a powerful image of a dead man under a Christmas tree with a young girl by his side.
What is your writing process?
It always starts with the image in my head. Once I have that, I outline for a few chapters. I try to weave several storylines together, and I just let the process happen. I write early in the day, and when I’m really into it, I’ll write for six to seven hours, four or five days a week.
Which is your favorite book in the series? Why?
I want to skip this question! The newest book, or the book I’m currently writing, is always my favorite. I also enjoy Cat Cross the Graves.
What has the feedback been on the book so far?
The most powerful, most frequent thing readers say about the books is that they wish their cats could talk like Joe Grey and Dulcie. Many readers say that they are sure their cats are talking behind their backs! Many people also say that they are cheered by reading my books, and I love to hear that.
Are you a cat owner? How many do you have? Tell us about them!
I have two cats now — they run the house! I have a longhaired tortie named ELT, short for “emergency locator transmitter.” My husband found her at the local airport just howling her head off! She is the model for Kitt, just as wild, crazy and tender as the character in the book. I also have a little black and white girl named Lucy. She’s very shy and retiring but very tender.
Do your cats influence your writing? How so?
They influence my writing quite a lot. All the cats we’ve owned have influenced me in some way. I love to watch them and try to figure out how it feels to act as a cat. How does it feel to jump from rooftop to rooftop? I so enjoy trying to get inside their heads.
What can we expect next from Joe Grey and his feline friends?
I can’t tell you because I don’t know myself yet. It evolves as I’m working on it. I’m curious myself!
Stacy N. Hackett is a contributing web editor for CatChannel.com and the former editor of Pet Product News magazine. She lives in Southern California with her husband, James, children, Kayla and Parker, and two adorable Cornish Rex cats, Evita and Carson.
In August 2007’s CAT FANCY:
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Meet Author Shirley Rousseau-Murphy