Catch Up With Author Jennifer Freed

Learn more about the inspiration behind her book, "Lessons From Stanley the Cat: Nine Lives of Everyday Wisdom."

By Stacy N. Hackett | Posted: September 8, 2010, 3 p.m. EDT

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Jennifer Freed and cat Stanley
Jennifer Freed with Stanely, whom she called the love of her life.

What was the catalyst that led you to write the book?
Stanley was with me for 19 years, and he was the love of my life — other than my spouse. When he passed away two years ago, I was in such grief. I wondered how I could honor him and all that he taught me. I sent an e-mail to 15 friends, listing all the things Stanley had taught me about life. At least 10 of those 15 people responded to my e-mail, recommending that I write a book.

I knew then I needed to find an artist to illustrate the individual lessons. I had a friend who lived in Sweden, whom I had met in Spanish classes in Venezuela. She is a very creative artist and graphic designer, and was a great match for the project.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
The most difficult part was wanting to do Stanley justice. I wanted to honor him with the words and pictures. I wanted to make sure the tone and the voice would be something that Stanley would be pleased with. I absolutely believe I achieved that. The book captures his spirit beautifully.

What was the most rewarding part of writing the book?
Two things made writing this book truly rewarding. The first was capturing the love I shared with Stanley and feeling the love I had for him reflected and represented in the words and art. The second was the response I received when sharing the words with my friends, my agent, my editor and the folks at Penguin. People felt about the book the way I did. The book transcends people and animals; it is truly a book about lessons in life.

What type of feedback have you received so far?
The feedback so far has been universally positive. My adult stepson, who is typically quite cynical, read the copy and was cracking up. He really enjoyed it. His reaction emphasizes that this book really is for everyone, even someone who is not usually a “cat book” type of person.

What is your writing process?
I spend every day between 7 and 11 a.m. writing, four to five days every week. Sometimes when I really get into it, I come back to it in the evening. I am a morning person, and I wake up with lots of ideas that I want to express. I have an urgency to communicate those ideas.

Have you written any other books?
As a psychotherapist and a writer, I have written several books on a number of topics. The titles include “The Ultimate Personality Guide,” “A New Moon” and a succession of four workbooks titled the “Become Your Best Self” series. “Lessons From Stanley” is my seventh book.
Do you currently own a cat or other pets? Tell us about them!

I live with Maui, Stanley’s “wife,” an 11-year-old female cat. We adopted her as a companion for Stanley when she was just a kitten. She is gorgeous; if she were a woman, everyone would open doors for her. She is really white with tan markings and big blue eyes. She is quite elegant and really a head turner. She talks incessantly.

Maui and Stanley were very close, and she was very upset when he passed. She’s finally starting to come into her own lately.

Does your cat participate in your writing process?
Before I go into the office to start writing, I feed Maui, and then she comes upstairs with me. She’ll get up on the desk and sit there, meowing at me. I’ve learned to tune her out as she chatters all the time. Soon she’ll get down and explore the office, playing with her toys, then will come back to meow at me again. Often she’ll take a nap.

When she gets fed up with me working on the computer, she’ll walk across the keyboard or climb into my lap. She needs a lot of attention!

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Catch Up With Author Jennifer Freed

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Jennifer    Littleton, CO

9/28/2010 8:44:38 AM

I'm another Jennifer Fried (pronounced "Freed"), who was born in Youngstown, OH, and, until the last three years, have always had at least one cat, usually two. I luv'd reading this small excerpt. it was great!

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