Blog tour: Street Cat Blues

A huge welcome to the Street Cat Blues blog tour, presented by Rachel’s RandomResources!

Today it’s my turn to introduce you to Aubrey the tabby cat and the rest of the team, both human and feline. However, before I do that, I am super excited to have author AlisonO’Leary answer my questions about her new book!

Hi Alison! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of Street Cat Blues! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: The novel opens with the death of Mr Telling who may be the latest victim of a serial killer who appears to be targeting the elderly. Aubrey, and some of the other cats in the neighbourhood, are upset because Mr Telling was a mate of theirs. Aubrey and his crew Vincent, a street-wise cat, and Moses, loveable but dim, decide to do a little investigating.

Although there is a cast of cats in the book it is set very firmly in the human world. I think it could probably best be described as ‘cosy crime’ but it has a definite darker edge. 

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?

A: I had an outline in my mind but, as I guess happens with many writers, the characters kind of took over. Also, some I hadn’t even thought of suddenly appeared, like Moses the little cat who hangs out with Vincent and Aubrey. 

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the roles of Molly and Jeremy Goodman?

A: That’s a really interesting question and I’ve thought long and hard about the answer. I really don’t know! When answering this question, I was going to describe how I think they look, etc but I’d be really interested to know what readers think – how do they see Molly and Jeremy?

Is there a cat in your life that was your inspiration for Aubrey?

A: There was. The real Aubrey was named because my husband John was reading John Aubrey’s Brief Lives at the time (thank goodness he wasn’t called Brief!). Like his namesake in the book, Aubrey was a large male tabby and he had been the longest at the rescue centre. Apparently, he’d been found wandering around Aylesbury but we suspected that he was found before he was lost. Wherever he had been, he was certainly used to living in a house and knew how to use the cat flap straight away. He was loving and affectionate from the very first. He lived to a good age, sixteen, and died peacefully in his favourite place – the rug in front of the fire. He was one of those cats that always seemed to have a sense of purpose. The idea for the book came when John was watching Aubrey strolling around the garden and he turned to me and said, ‘do you know, that cat always looks as though he’s got a bit of admin to catch up on …’

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: Some of the scenes involving Carlos, particularly those that relate to his mother, were close to my heart. Carlos and his mother, Maria, are outsiders in every sense.

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: Loads! I think originally, I had planned it to revolve around a property scam but that fell by the wayside.

This book was a long time coming. When I was trying to get published, I wrote other things and had a couple of near misses but this was the one I kept coming back to. 

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: I’m currently working on a sequel to Street Cat Blues, in which Molly, Jeremy, Aubrey and Carlos move to the country. The working title is Country Cat Blues and not surprisingly, it isn’t long before dark goings on start to happen.

What are you reading at the moment?

A: I’m currently reading Manhunt by Colin Sutton, which is a non-fiction account of the events leading up to the arrest and conviction of Levi Bellfield. I studied Criminology as part of my degree as well as teaching it.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: When I was offered publication of Street Cat Blues, I thought that was it. Bingo. All I had to do was write the next one. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I’m not sure which, I had previously had little to do with social media. It was just something that I’d never really got into. So, I came to it all very much as the new kid on the block. In a way that was a good thing as I had a blank sheet to work with.

However, initially I must admit that I was daunted. But as Muhammad Ali said to George Foreman when he was on the ropes in the famous Rumble in the Jungle fight – ‘this ain’t no time to get tired’.

I’ve learnt that it’s important not to get overwhelmed and to schedule time for social media rather than going for a scatter shot approach. As for interacting with readers, I love it. I had one reader tell me that she’d used Street Cat in a creative writing lesson as an example of how to use alternative narrative. I was enormously flattered.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Don’t despair. If you get rejected and, unless you’re very lucky, you probably will get rejected, remember that it’s subjective. Your writing may be fine, it’s just not to the taste of the person who read it or it’s not the type of book that they’re currently publishing. In spite of what some would have us believe, there are an awful lot of opportunities for publication. With the rise of the ebook, many small independent publishers will now take a chance on a new author that they may not have taken before.

Thank you for your time!

And thank you for giving me something to look forward to. I already can’t wait to the sequel of Street Cat Blues! When I first received the invitation to the blog tour in my inbox, my fingers couldn’t hit the ‘reply’ button fast enough. I do love a noir but, above all, I do love cats. Combine the two and you have perfection!

Because of this, I had very high expectations when I started the book and they were all met and exceeded. I found myself making theories and sitting on the edge of my chair waiting to find out more. While this novel had everything I was looking for in terms of crime writing, what really did it for me was the unique, feline point of view.

I was drawn in from the very first page and I can’t remember reading a novel like this before, where one minute you’re observing the events among a crowd of fellow humans and the next you’re hiding under a car or behind the curtains on a windowsill to get a whole new perspective.

I could gush more about this book but I feel like I’d be wasting time you could be spending by going to buy it! And if I haven’t convinced you yet, please do browse the contributions of the other bloggers on the tour:


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