News

More witch cats to come!

It’s official! A Cat on the Case, the third Witch Cats of Cambridge cozy mystery, will be published by Polis Books on Jan. 16, 2021, and can be pre-ordered now.


When a panicked stranger shows up at Charm and Cherish, Becca Colwin feels compelled to help. But when that stranger then disappears, leaving behind her heirloom violin the aspiring witch detective is drawn further into a web of deceit and intrigue complicated by a history that only Becca’s three magical cats truly understand. 

January 2021? Maybe I’ll even be able to visit bookstores by then…

“Spell” in paperback

Yes! Just in time for holiday reading (and giving), A Spell of Murder is out in trade paperback. Same adorable cover, but lighter weight – and a bit less expensive too. Want a signed copy? Email me and we’ll figure it out!

“Simon expertly casts suspicion…”

Fellow authors have long talked about the “Kirkus kick” – this review publication’s reputation for zinging all but the most flawless books. That’s why I was a bit breathless when I got the email from my editor, alerting me to a Kirkus review for my upcoming An Incantation of Cats. I should explain – I’m reading the page proofs now. I can easily imagine a thousand things they would pick at (including many that I’m changing that will be corrected in the finished book)!

Me being me, I skimmed through the summary-type review – one reason for these advance reviews is to let libraries and bookstores know what a book is about – to the conclusion. You can imagine my surprise when I read:

Simon expertly casts suspicion on one member of her tiny human cast after another,

And the Kirkus kick? It’s this line:

but this series is really for readers who want all cats, all the time.

The three paranormally empowered feline detectives carve out a niche within a niche.

Ha! Some critic might think that’s a negative. I know it’s simple truth – and that my readers for this series are serious cat people! . And so I’m quite happy with it.

The full review is online here.

The Witch Detective of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has two clients knocking at her door, each one evidently suspicious of the other.

Since losing her job with the Cambridge Historical Society, Becca Colwin has been hoping that the paranormal powers she’s advertised in venues like Charm and Cherish, the New Age boutique that offers one-stop shopping for the local Wiccan community, will help turn her fledgling detective agency into a moneymaker. Among all the other difficulties of launching such a questionable venture, two are especially troubling. One is that minutes after Gaia Linquist, an aspiring herbalist who works at Charm and Cherish, leaves after asking her help in determining who left poisonous wolf’s bane in her coffee mug, Becca gets a visit from Margaret Cross, the co-owner of Charm and Cherish, who wants her to get the goods on the person who’s been stealing money from the till for the past three weeks—a thief she strongly suspects is Gaia Linquist. This question of how to decide between the two cases or how to juggle them both is daunting enough, but the second problem would be even more vexing if Becca had the slightest awareness of it. She doesn’t have any special powers at all; whatever success she’s enjoyed as a crime solver (A Spell of Murder, 2018) is due entirely to her three cats, littermates who actually do have them. Harriet can conjure physical objects; Laurel can manipulate human minds; and Clara can leap through solid objects. Although the mystery soon deepens to include the death of Margaret’s philandering husband, car dealer Frank Cross, it’s not at all clear whether he was felled by his heart condition or poisoned by wolf’s bane. Simon expertly casts suspicion on one member of her tiny human cast after another, but this series is really for readers who want all cats, all the time.

The three paranormally empowered feline detectives carve out a niche within a niche.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2020ISBN: 978-1-947993-80-8Page count: 288ppPublisher: Polis BooksReview Posted Online: Oct. 27th, 2019Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2019


                            AN INCANTATION OF CATS by Clea Simon

AN INCANTATION OF CATS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Witch Detective of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has two clients knocking at her door, each one evidently suspicious of the other.

Since losing her job with the Cambridge Historical Society, Becca Colwin has been hoping that the paranormal powers she’s advertised in venues like Charm and Cherish, the New Age boutique that offers one-stop shopping for the local Wiccan community, will help turn her fledgling detective agency into a moneymaker. Among all the other difficulties of launching such a questionable venture, two are especially troubling. One is that minutes after Gaia Linquist, an aspiring herbalist who works at Charm and Cherish, leaves after asking her help in determining who left poisonous wolf’s bane in her coffee mug, Becca gets a visit from Margaret Cross, the co-owner of Charm and Cherish, who wants her to get the goods on the person who’s been stealing money from the till for the past three weeks—a thief she strongly suspects is Gaia Linquist. This question of how to decide between the two cases or how to juggle them both is daunting enough, but the second problem would be even more vexing if Becca had the slightest awareness of it. She doesn’t have any special powers at all; whatever success she’s enjoyed as a crime solver (A Spell of Murder, 2018) is due entirely to her three cats, littermates who actually do have them. Harriet can conjure physical objects; Laurel can manipulate human minds; and Clara can leap through solid objects. Although the mystery soon deepens to include the death of Margaret’s philandering husband, car dealer Frank Cross, it’s not at all clear whether he was felled by his heart condition or poisoned by wolf’s bane. Simon expertly casts suspicion on one member of her tiny human cast after another, but this series is really for readers who want all cats, all the time.

The three paranormally empowered feline detectives carve out a niche within a niche.

In #MeToo era, we don’t need to make nice

As many of my writer friends know, I’ve been working on a darker-than-my-usual crime novel that deals with, among other things, the aftermath of violence, the funny tricks denial can play on memory, and how a single act can permanently alter the trajectory of a woman’s life. PTSD and recovery, particularly from sexual assault, are important topics for me – they are also very complex in a way that I don’t think are always understood. That’s one reason I wrote this op-ed, which ran in today’s Boston Globe, (though the other will be clear as soon as you start reading) and why I’ll keep writing about these topics, even after my mystery-in-process is published.

I hope you’ll take this journey with me. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we need to face the darkness first.

Thanks.

Clea

(The Globe op-ed may be behind a subscription paywall. I encourage everyone to subscribe to all your local papers! But in this case… )

OPINION | CLEA SIMON

In #MeToo era, we don’t need to make nice

By Clea Simon

As a victim of sexual assault, my first impulse is to make nice. Some of that is the survival instinct: Don’t invite any further violence. Slip away and disappear.

But recently, I learned again that making nice has its own price. Rage, like grief, has its own season, and recovery cannot be rushed.

I learned — relearned — this lesson when I received an e-mail from a college classmate who was the roommate of the man who raped me our freshman year. He was writing after 40 years of silence with an offer to talk. His roommate had told him “distressing” things about a “night” with me at the time, he said. “I regret never having discussed it before,” he wrote.

To say this e-mail shook me would be an understatement. Although I’ve healed considerably through therapy, and I’ve written extensively in both fiction and nonfiction about how sexual trauma can play out in a woman’s life, this awakened something. As other survivors know, we often cling a little bit to denial: It wasn’t that bad. We had some role, and therefore some control. Maybe it didn’t happen at all. This e-mail was proof, once again, that it did.

Several friends advised me not to respond. But once the strange vertigo of denial passed, I realized I had questions. The first was for him: Why now? The answer boiled down to his awareness of #MeToo and a reappraisal of his own past.

I then moved onto the specific queries that had long bothered me. No, his roommate didn’t use drugs, just a bottle of over-proof rum, which he kept solely to push on vulnerable women. Yes, there were other women. No, he was never prosecuted, as far as his former roommate knew. These answers were disturbing but ultimately useful. Old questions answered. Throughout, he kept reassuring me that he didn’t participate and that he didn’t like this roommate.

But his e-mails also signified that he still didn’t get it. For one, even though I called what happened rape, he didn’t. Instead, he talked about how his roommate would use alcohol “to try to have sex with women.” At one point, he said he thought I might want to “let bygones be bygones.” He also noted that I never reached out to talk to him, as if contact with someone who lived with the man who assaulted me was something I would seek.

He also was not, I came to believe, candid about what he really wanted. Absolution. Points for being a good guy, all these years later.

That’s when I realized why my friends had cautioned me about replying. That this was about him, not me, and by responding to his prompt, I was giving him something. I was entering into some kind of cooperative agreement or relationship — on his terms and on his timetable.

And I don’t have to. I don’t owe him any particular reaction — or a response at all. In her memoir, “Know My Name,” Chanel Miller talks about reclaiming power after being cast purely as the victim of assault. For me, this is part of that reclamation.

This e-mail out of the blue shook me. It sparked a lot of feelings, including anger. I’m trying to be OK with that. What I’m not OK with is for anyone else — particularly a man who was at least passively complicit — seeking reconciliation or some resolution now that he wants one.

Too often, making nice made us vulnerable to abuse. We didn’t protest, we played along. I’m now trying to fight that impulse. I’m pushing back. My anger is my own, and I — we — will let go of it when our time is right.


Clea Simon’s most recent novel is “A Spell of Murder.” She can be reached at www.CleaSimon.com.

If anyone wants to reach me, I’m reachable via this website. I am not going to read the comments.

Thanks

PW loves “Incantation”!

“In Simon’s entertaining sequel to 2018’s A Spell of Murder…  Becca’s cats, each with a distinctive personality, use their individual magical skills in their efforts to solve the case and keep Becca safe. Fans of talking cat cozies will have fun.” – Publishers Weekly

An Incantation of Cats: A Witch Cats of Cambridge Mystery

Clea Simon. Polis, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-947993-80-8

In Simon’s entertaining sequel to 2018’s A Spell of Murder, Becca Colwin has already declared herself a witch detective to her friends and coven. With the help of her three cats, known as familiars in the Wiccan world, Becca sets out to discover who’s trying to kill her client Gaia Linquist, a clerk at the Wiccan boutique in Cambridge, Mass. Gaia suspects the culprit may be her boss, Margaret Cross, who believes Gaia’s having an affair with Margaret’s husband, Frank. But when Frank ends up dead, both Gaia and Margaret become suspects in his possible murder, until someone tries to kill Gaia. Gaia thinks her boyfriend, Tiger, is assisting Becca as she combs the streets of Cambridge for clues. Then the police tell Gaia that Tiger claims he has never met Becca, and Gaia realizes that he’s not who he says he is. Becca’s cats, each with a distinctive personality, use their individual magical skills in their efforts to solve the case and keep Becca safe. Fans of talking cat cozies will have fun.