Sisters in Crime is a wonderful and welcoming organization for writers of all genders, published or not-yet. Among its many functions, this international organization introduces us to each other. Here’s a brief interview I did with my local chapter, Sisters in Crime New England. Feel free to post your own questions either below or (preferably) on the SinCNE blog!

Q&A: Clea Simon, A CAT ON THE CASEBy Kathryn Gandek-Tighe

Clea Simon updates us on her newest Witch Cats of Cambridge Mystery that was just released!

Writers usually hate writing book summaries. Will you share with us your real book blurb or one you wish you could have used? 

The holidays are over. Winter is here and it’s horrible. Don’t you want to escape with some magical cats for a while?

What was the a-ha moment that made you write this story? 

I don’t want to give too much away, but I spent a lot of time thinking through my plot. I really wanted an engaging and complicated plot – but I wanted it to make sense, too. For that, it had to involve my human heroine but also had to engage both the feline senses and the magical powers of my three witch cats. I was out taking a walk one day, talking the story over with my husband, and he asked me one simple question and – a-ha! I realized that there was a simple switch that would make everything work. You could say it was my “dog that didn’t bark” moment. Only the book has no dog. And the cats don’t bark either.

What excited you most about writing this story? 

I really love my characters. I love Becca and Clara, her devoted calico cat. But I also love Clara’s two littermates – the two other cats, who can be very annoying but who really have good points to make (and important roles in the plot). Plus, I’ve come to rely on Becca’s friend Maddy. She’s the voice of reason in Becca’s life. We all wish she’d have a little more faith in Becca, but really, she sees the world for what it is.

Which of your skill sets were useful constructing the plot? 

I really got to draw on some diverse skill sets for A CAT ON THE CASE. My experience with Wicca – both reading a ton and also participating, for a while, in a Wiccan circle – is crucial to the series. But for this book, I also got to draw on my background as a musician. I’m a bass player, and I played string bass in community orchestras for years. Plus, my husband picked up violin as an adult, so that got to take me back. Thinking about playing, having instruments in the house to examine and refer to, and revisiting those years gave me the character of Ruby, the foreign student, who is at the center of this case.

What meal and drink do you think would pair well with your book?

This is definitely a hot cocoa kind of book! But because we’re all adults here, I wouldn’t complain if you jazzed up that cocoa with a shot of Grand Marnier. Something cozy that you can sip while reading, but with a little mystery and magic, too!

A former journalist, Clea Simon is the Boston Globe-bestselling author of nearly 30 mysteries. These alternate between cozies like her new A Cat on the Case, the third witch cat of Cambridge mystery, and darker psychological suspense, (Hold Me Down, coming Oct. 5). She can be reached at