With thanks to Red Dog Press and Alison O’Leary
Country Cat Blues is the second book of a series about Aubrey, a former street cat who has taken to solving crime. You can read about Aubrey’s first adventure in Street Cat Blues.
For the second book, Aubrey moves away from the town and into a sleepy rural village called Fallowfield, where he meets a whole new cast of characters, both human and cat. The story neatly runs both cat crime and human crime side by side and the cats are very useful in helping to solve both because they can slip through cat flaps and slide into houses unnoticed in a way that we humans cannot.
I really enjoyed this book. Although it seems a little unusual to have a cat narrating the story, you soon get used to his voice and he can see things that humans might miss. I found it well-written, with some nice comic touches and some great characters, both cat and human. I have not read the first book but found the family easy to get to know with some true-to-life connections between teens and parents. I was less clever than Aubrey as I did not know who the murderer was until near the end of the book, but there were red herrings along the way (much to the delight of the cats).
If you like crime novels and cats and never knew that you could read a book about both, then you will enjoy this book and getting to know Aubrey and his family.
Country Cat Blues is available from 23rd February at Amazon and on Kindle.
An Interview with the Author
I asked author, Alison O’Leary some questions about how she came to write Country Cat Blues and the prequel. She was kind enough to answer them:
- How long did it take you to write your first book?
I think it was about two years. It was written in longhand and, to be honest, it wasn’t very good. I only submitted it to one or two agents before stuffing it to the back of the cupboard. For me, the real achievement was in actually finishing it. I felt that I’d accomplished something and that I’d taken the first steps on my journey as a writer.
- How many unread but written books do you have in a drawer somewhere at home?
I have three, including the first one, but I’m considering revising one of them. It did attract some attention from agents but didn’t ultimately make it through to publication. I looked at it again the other day and, while it needs some work, I still like the basic idea. It’s a stand-alone psychological thriller which revolves around four women and one secret. Its working title is A Choice Of Enemies. As Oscar Wilde said: ‘A man cannot be too careful in his choice of enemies’ …
- Aubrey is a very knowing cat. Who was the inspiration for him?
The real Aubrey was a rescue cat, just like his namesake. He was named Aubrey because my partner was reading John Aubrey’s Brief Lives at the time. As Aubrey once said to me, it could have been worse – he could have been called Brief!
Aubrey was a large male tabby and he had been at the rescue centre far longer than any of the other cats. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was because he wasn’t cute like the kittens. We took to him immediately and it was a choice that we never regretted. He was the most loving, affectionate animal although it would be true to say that he never missed a food opportunity. When he used to stroll about the garden he often had a very purposeful look. The idea for the book came when my partner turned to me and said, ‘that cat always looks as though he’s got a bit of admin to sort out’. Or, maybe, a crime to solve …
What is your process when beginning to write a book?
Once I have an idea, I usually start by making notes, often on scrappy bits of paper, just odd bits and pieces as they occur to me. Then I make a rough plan, just an outline sketch of who does what and when. Once I start writing, I refer back to the notes and keep adding more. What I usually find though is that the book takes a direction of its own so that what started as a minor character develops into something much more significant. Sometimes things just come out of nowhere. For example, in Country Cat Blues there is a ghost called Maudie. I have no idea where she appeared from. She just sort of turned up and started joining in!
- Which crime author is your must-read immediately-the-book-comes-out favourite and why?
That’s quite difficult to answer – there are so many good crime writers out there! At one time I would have said Ruth Rendell and in fact I do go back and re-read some of hers from time to time. Now it’s quite eclectic. Elizabeth Haynes is very good, as is Erin Kelly. I used to teach law and criminology so I do read quite a lot of true crime as well. The most recent was The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury by Sean O’Connor which concerned a notorious murder trial in the 1930’s.
- Which crime book do you wish you had written and why?
Probably The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. It was first published in 1926 and was a real ground-breaker at the time.
Thank to you to Alison for such great answers. I always enjoy talking to authors and learning more about their process when they write a book and also their inspiration.