Itching for a funny cat book? If you’re waiting for the sequel, prequel? of the runaway bestseller I Could Pee on This, we have an exclusive Q & A with author Francesco Marciuliano to tide you over. I Knead My Mommy and Other Poem By Kittens with their feline words of wisdom will be released on August 5. Run and snap up a copy. It’s as good if not better than I Could Pee On This with its LOL mix of sweet and sardonic kitty poems and pics will brighten any day. If not, you may want reconsider your cat lover status.
We have winners! Three lucky Cat Wisdom 101 readers won a copy of I Knead My Mommy and Other Poem By Kittens. Congratulations to Connie, Deb Barnes and Skeeter & Izzy. Please look for an email from Cat Wisdom 101 requesting your shipping address.
Q.& A. With Francesco Marciuliano by Layla Morgan Wilde
LMW: In your pet poetry series of books: cats, dogs and now kittens, how do you creatively shift gears from one species to another? Are cats or dogs easier to write about. Are puppies next?
PM: I’ve been very fortunate to have both cats and dogs (and birds, turtles, fish, and more cats) as pets. I think to write in a particular pet’s voice is a matter of determining how they express their thoughts. Cats are quiet and reflective, so their poems are made to appear as if they were letting you in on a secret. Dogs, however, are far more vocal and publicly emphatic in their thoughts. So their verse exuberantly shares how, what, and why you must toss that ball RIGHT NOW. As for I Knead My Mommy and Other Poems by Kittens, the voice is all about discovery, questioning, and feeling out their new world. Kittens are highly energetic but also inquisitive, so the hope was to capture both their outgoing personality and inner world. Puppy poetry will be out quite soon. But another cat book is also on the way, in which they write prose for the first time. (They demanded such in their contract.) And should the readers continue to be so kind then there’s always the chance this series will run completely off the rails and eventually we’ll have book 12 in the series as voles and hedgehogs write poetry for British gardeners.
LMW: The kitten poems are truth tellers with sweet and dark, subtle and not so subtle messages. What’s the biggest core message?
FM: I think when people see a kitten their first thought is “AWWWWW.” Their second thought is “Should it be happily hanging upside down from the screen door like that while trying to make a leap to the top bookshelf?” Kittens are indeed adorable but they are also both overly delighted and often overwhelmed by their new surroundings as they operate on almost pure kinetic energy. They can be brave, they can be timid, they can explore it all, and they can choose a couch cushion to hide behind all the day. But mostly they are carving out an identity and we need to remember that they are highly intelligent and individual creatures, not just unbelievably cute ones.
LMW: Besides books, you write the syndicated comic strip Sally Forth, a webcomic Medium Large; how do you juggle multiple projects and what feeds your muse?
FM: Never underestimate the highly motivating power of deadlines and fear of irked editors when it comes to working on multiple projects at once. But really, what I like to do more than almost anything is write. (Except for those times when I can’t think of a damn thing to write, in which case it’s the one thing that’s killing me). I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living and I always keep that in mind even when I don’t have a single idea and stress causes me to snap and see The Great Gazoo from “The Flintstones.” Then I ask him to help me out but he keeps going on and on about “mental collapse” and “troubling hallucinations” and I just go back to writing again. The moral of the story is that invisible aliens are not quick thinkers when it comes to comic strip punchlines.
In truth I do most of my writing while walking, usually between six and eight miles a day in NYC. The result is like being a fugitive who keeps returning to his home address every night.
LMW: All your books are beautifully designed by Emily Dubin. After your writing is submitted, do you collaborate with her at all?
FM: Emily has done an absolutely incredible job each and every time and I am so proud of how they look both in execution and on a bookshelf. My input comes when Emily sends me some photos to pick from for each poem, after she has already culled through hundreds upon hundreds of cat or dog pictures. I make my suggestions based on those options and Emily goes forth to work her magic both inside the book and on the cover.
LMW: What do you think is the biggest myth or misconception about kittens?
FM: We’ve all heard people say “I like kittens but I don’t like cats,” usually in reference to how a kitten is full of spunk and cuddles while for some a cat seems to be independent to the point that they wouldn’t even friend their person on Facebook. But while cats may not be as demonstrative as dogs in their affections, they are supremely loving and loyal, rushing to you in an instant when you need their presence. Meanwhile, kittens should not be seen just in terms of their cuteness because I think that may cause some to overlook how complicated, engaging, thoughtful, and still very much in need of love and respect they are. Actually, in terms of pets and wildlife alike “respect” should always be the watch word.
LMW: What have you learned about pet love and pet lovers since I Could Pee on This was published in 2012?
FM: One of the great things to come from the books is hearing from cat and dog people about how the poems speak so much about their own relationships with their pets. Not because I’m thinking in terms of the writing but because it makes me very happy to hear others getting to share so many loving years, just like I did with my cats Boris and Natasha.
LMW: Are you currently pet-free and if so, how do you get your kitty fix?
FM: I am without pet right now but hope to cure myself of such an ailment by early this fall. Luckily, in the meantime the Internet remains 98% cat (with the other 2% asking, “What’s with all the cats?), so no one need go without the magic of cats and kitties for too long.