After grilling dozens of authors, it’s only fair I answer my own questions, right? And with my new An Incantation of Cats (Polis Books) out tomorrow, now is as good a time as any. This is the second in my “Witch Cats of Cambridge” cozy series, so expect the return of Becca, a would-be human witch, and the three magical cats who love her.
How does a book start for you?
May I be evasive about my own question? I kind of have to be, because the truth is, it changes from book to book. Often (as with my very first mystery, Mew is for Murder) I see a problem I want to write about (in that case, I realized that if a cat hoarder were killed, there would be so many subjects – and also that I’d want to re-home all her cats). With An Incantation of Cats, I was more involved with the characters. I’d introduced them in the previous book, https://www.cleasimon.com/book/a-spell-of-murder A Spell of Murder, and I really wanted them to grow. In particular, I wanted the cats Harriet and Laurel to show that they multifaceted characters and I very much wanted to deepen their relationship with their littermate Clara. I also wanted to explore the friendship between my human protagonist Becca and her skeptical bestie Maddy.
Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?
All these secondary characters – they really came through for me! I found a deep well of love in Maddy, Harriet, and Laurel that I didn’t entirely expect. I mean, they all stay true to their characters – Harriet, in particular, remains quite imperious – but they showed a sweetness and depth of feeling that was quite wonderful to me.
When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?
It is set, like its predecessor, in Cambridge, Massachusetts -– the formerly funky college town where I lived for many years (I’m now right next door in Somerville, Mass.). Even though Cambridge has become increasingly gentrified (“luxury condos” are now the standard), it still has that counterculture edge – so, yes, I could easily imagine a coven of witches hanging a sign in the local laundromat looking for prospective members. In fact, I briefly attended a Wiccan circle that met right in Harvard Square in the Unitarian Universalist church. (Yeah, that last sentence pretty much sums up Cambridge in a nutshell.)
What are you working on now?
Another witch cat book! I adore these characters and want to see how much further they can go. Of course, I also have some other projects in the works … including some non-cozies.
Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?
“Why haven’t you written Thisbe into a book yet?” At least, that’s what she’s been asking, when she isn’t napping in her basket. The only answer I have is that there are still books to come…
The author of more than two dozen cozy/amateur sleuth mysteries featuring cats, three nonfiction books, and one punk rock urban noir, World Enough (Severn House), Clea Simon likes to keep busy. The Boston Globe best-selling author’s most recent mysteries range from the dark black-cat narrated Cross My Path (Severn House) (Blackie & Care mystery #3) and the snarky pet noir Fear on Four Paws (Poisoned Pen) (Pru Marlowe #7) to the cozy An Incantation of Cats (Witch Cats of Cambridge mystery #2). Clea lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband and one cat. She can be reached at www.cleasimon.com