Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is excited to shine our Friday Spotlight on Clea Simon, the first of four Mystery Writers we will be bringing in to the store for our exciting Mystery Book Celebration on Sunday, May 19th from 2:00 – 5:00 PM.
When we asked Clea how she wanted to be introduced, she said:
“I’m the author of more than two dozen mysteries, most of which involve cats, and three nonfiction books. My most recent mystery is A Spell of Murder, which features a young woman who wants to be a witch – and her three cats, who really have magical powers. This is the first in my new “Witch Cats of Cambridge” series.”
Thanks so much for joining us, Clea! My first question is, Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)
Indie bookstores across New England have been great to me – as well as the usual online sites. You can find links to your closest indie (and those online sites) at my website, www.CleaSimon.com (you can also read a bit about each book there too).
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
Please sign up for my newsletter at www.CleaSimon.com – and if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, I’m there too, as Clea Simon Author and @Clea_Simon
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from A Spell of Murder?
I write a range of mysteries. Most of them involve cats, but not all. I used to be a rock music critic, and that world is the setting of my 2017 mystery, World Enough (Severn House), which is a dark psychological suspense book – kind of about growing older and wondering how much of what you remember is true, and how much was just what you wanted to be true. Even my cat books are all over the place – my Blackie and Care series focuses on the relationship of a girl and her cat, but it is kind of grim. The story takes place in an unnamed dystopian city, Care (the girl) is homeless and trying to make her way as a private detective, while Blackie (the cat) looks after her. My latest mystery, A Spell of Murder, is much gentler. After writing something dark, I really need something light and fun – and A Spell of Murder is that. Basically, Becca has just lost her job and her boyfriend and so she’s hoping to reclaim some agency over her life by becoming a witch. She joins a coven and, sure enough, the trouble starts. The good news is that the three cats she’s adopted – sisters from the same litter – really do have magical powers, and they band together to save the human they love.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I am thrilled to share that the “Witch Cats of Cambridge” series is continuing! I’ve just turned in the second book, An Incantation of Cats, which explores the history of the three cats and presents another mystery to solve. That will be out in December 2019.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
I really love to cook and I collect cookbooks. Some of these are from places I’ve traveled (from Louisiana to Bali), many from places where I’ve taken cooking classes (a great way to get to know a culture! Plus … you get to eat what you cook!). Even if I don’t ever cook those dishes again, the cookbooks keep the tastes fresh in my mind. I also find that cooking is a great retreat from writing. You work and work all day on something that may be published in a year, but then you shop and work for a little while – and you get to share and eat the result that night!
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
I don’t think I could write without a cat by my side. Not only do they inspire the fictional felines in my book, they keep me company in the lonely business of writing. When my beloved Musetta – my little muse – died in the fall of 2017, I was bereft. But then, last spring, we heard about a rescue bringing kittens up from West Virginia. A rescue group down there had been doing trap, neuter, return, but the winter had been so cold, they had decided to take the kittens in and socialize them. So now we have Thisbe, a longhair tortoiseshell kitty who has taken charge of our house. She still has the spunk of a West Virginia street cat, but she has taken to the life of a pampered house cat quite well. She’s in charge of keeping me in line and making sure I hit my daily word count.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
That what we write may ultimately be art, but the way we get there is through discipline. I have learned that when I’m creating a draft I have to be strict with myself – write every day and write to word count (usually 1,000 or 1,500 words a day, depending on various factors, including when a manuscript is due). And when I’m revising, I have to be ruthless. If something doesn’t work, take it out or rework it until it does. The point is to get it so smooth that it looks like it just flowed out of you – and it takes a lot of sweat to get it to that point. There’s a poem by William Butler Yeats, Adam’s Curse, in which a poet says, “A line will take us hours maybe, but if it seems more than a moment’s thought, our stitching and unstitching is for naught.” That says it all.
Clea, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions. Clea, Julia Henry, Liz Mugavero and Lisa Shea will be giving a multi-author panel talk and book signing of their mystery titles. They’ll be here to discuss their writing, answer questions about publishing, give insight into characters, and bring the world of mystery novels to tantalizing life! Light refreshments will be available. Come to Annie’s on May 19th to see these wonderful authors!