This guest interview of Gwen Cooper, a New York Times bestselling author of the memoirs “Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat” and “Homer: The Ninth Life of a Blind Wonder Cat”; the novel “Love Saves the Day”; and the crowd-sourced collection of cat selfies, “Kittenish”, 100% of the proceeds from which were donated to support animal rescue in Nepal following the 2015 earthquake is part of a series of interviews of the panelists appearing at the upcoming Cat Writer’s Association (CWA) Conference at Blogpaws ( June 23-25, 2016 in Chandler, AZ).
Gwen Cooper also manages Homer’s social-media community, which reaches nearly two million cat enthusiasts and rescuers around the world each day. Learn more about the process of getting published and getting past the “gate keepers” in the publishing industry who aren’t always convinced that cats make for a suitable book topic from Gwen Cooper at this year’s CWA 2016 Conference. Register here (http://blogpaws.com/events/2016-conference/).
Every cat writer has a story to tell about how they came to write about cats. What’s yours?
I’m afraid mine isn’t the world’s most interesting “origin story.” I had already written one book–a novel about South Beach- which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007. I was trying to figure out what my next book should be about, and I read an article in the paper about a library cat in Iowa whose human was writing a memoir about him. It had literally never occurred to me that it could be possible to write an entire book about a cat, or that other people might want to read it. But I remember looking over at Homer while I was reading this article and thinking, Homer’s a pretty cool cat. I’ll bet I could write an interesting book about him…
Do you have a favorite piece of work that you are most proud of?
I tend to be hyper-critical of just about everything I write, but I’m especially proud of the new sequel to “Homer’s Odyssey” that I wrote recently, and specifically proud of the chapter dealing with Homer’s passing in 2013. I never thought I’d be able to get past my grief enough to write about it coherently. It was a real challenge, but I’m proud of myself for being able to get through that part of the process.
What impact has social media played in your writing career?
Homer’s social-media accounts reach over 2 million people a day at this point, which is a huge audience! Candidly, it can be inhibiting sometimes-trying to keep up with everything doesn’t leave me as much time to write as I used to have. But, of course, when I do write something, I’m able to spread the word far more effectively than I would be without social media.
What will you be speaking about at the CWA blog paws conference?
I’ll be talking about the process of getting past those ever-vigilant “gate keepers” in the publishing industry who aren’t always convinced that cats make for a suitable book topic!
What do you hope attendees gain from your presentation?
There’s a lot of practical advice that I wish someone had been able to give me when I was starting out–the real nuts-and-bolts of creating enthusiasm in publishing circles for a cat story. Sometimes I think that, challenging as writing is, it’s almost the easy part when it comes to actually getting your work published. I hope people come away with a sense of how they can use their trying-to-get-published time effectively and efficiently, so that they can get their work out their and focus on creating new work.
What advice would you give someone considering adopting a cat with a disability?
I always say that a special-needs animal is just as capable of loving you and living a wonderful life as any other. You do want to take an honest, holistic look at your life before bringing a special-needs cat into it. Will your home be safe for this cat, do you have the time and energy to devote to him that he’ll need, will adopting him bring any undue imbalance to your family as it currently exists? But, overall, I think it’s one of the most rewarding experiences an animal lover can have!
Are there any projects you are currently working on?
Right this second I’m rebuilding Homer’s website and general online presence to make it a more effective fundraising vehicle–and I’m in a pretty much constant state of fundraising and visiting shelters around the country. At the moment, Homer’s Heroes are raising money for Shrek and Smurf in the UK, and this weekend I’m headed to Cooperstown to read at a shelter there.
Is there a chance your readers will get another Homer adventure/ Homer book?
I think I’ve written my last book about Homer (“Homer: The Ninth Life of a Blind Wonder Cat,” the sequel to “Homer’s Odyssey” that I published back in December.) But stay tuned for the continuing adventures of his little brother, Clayton the Tripod, and Clayton’s litter-mate, Fanny!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just how delighted I am to be joining my fellow cat writers this summer!
To learn more about the Cat Writers: Click Here
Connect with Gwen Cooper –
So happy to see this, albeit a bit late. Gwen has a generous soul. I asked her if she would consider applying as a speaker for the CWA conference and she agreed. She also wrote a beautiful blurb for my nonprofit anthology Black Cats Tell All, currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. It’s a rebranding of black cats to raise their low adoption rates.