Catch Up With Author Rita Mae Brown

Learn more about the inspiration behind her book, Hiss of Death.

Posted: April 6, 2011, 3 a.m.

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What was your inspiration behind the book?
I pretty much just do what the cat tells me. I’ve had a lot of friends come down with cancer, and it just seemed like the right thing to write about.

What do you like about writing mysteries?
There’s a format to them, like a sonnet. I like how there’s a certain structure. They’re fun to write, and they force me to pay attention to plot and all the details.

Your book contains a rich cast of characters – who would you pick as your favorite?
It’s always the cat. Well, there’s two of them: Sneaky Pie and Pewter. They live with me, so I don’t have to imagine very much. Sneaky Pie is 17 years old, and Pewter is 23. Veterinary medicine, like human medicine, has advanced so much. Pets live a lot longer these days.

Which character in your book do you most relate to?
I really like the animals, rather than the humans. It’s all about the animals. What was the most difficult part about writing the book? It wasn’t really the research – that wasn’t difficult. It was remembering about the people I lost to cancer – most of these people were in their 30s. I really think there’s a cancer epidemic in America that no one wants to address.

What was the most rewarding part about writing the book?
It all turns out well for Harry. She learned a lot and grew a lot. One of the most wonderful things is the cancer support group. These groups do so much good for the patients and the spouses. They have someone to talk to who’s going through the same thing.

Tell us about your pets.
Besides the cats, we have horses and dogs. I don’t consider the cattle pets. I’m on a big farm, and I do a lot of rescue work. I’ve got a lot of dogs that nobody wants – it’s the thing I do that I love the most. I just had a dog that had nine puppies. I also have Foxhounds and Bassets. We go on hunts (we just chase and don’t kill anything) – it’s really what I live for. There’s a lot of space here, so we’re not overcrowded.

What have you learned from your pets?
I learn a lot from them. Life is immediate for animals. I love how they don’t worry about the past or the future. We humans worry so much about the things we can’t control. So why not just say, “The heck with it?”

Are you planning on writing more books?
I’m always writing a book – I just can’t stop. If I’m not writing the Sneaky Pie Brown books, I like to work on the Sister Jane books. If I don’t write, I’ll get in trouble. Writing keeps me occupied. The great thing about writing and farming is there’s always something to do.

If you could tell your readers one thing, what would it be?
I’d like to ask the pet lovers out there to go to the local SPCA or shelter to adopt a cat or dog. If they can’t adopt, I’d ask them to give $10 to help feed an animal – you know, just to help out.

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