Friday, May 4, 2012

"Cat Girl's Day Off": Interview with Kimberly Pauley

Being able to communicate with cats would make my life so much easier. Who wouldn’t want to know when their cats are actually hungry, when the litter box is too dirty to use, or when someone is not giving kitty enough attention.  In Kimberly Pauley’s new book, Cat Girl’s Day Off, she explores the life of Natalie Ng, whose ‘Talent’ is being able to talk to cats.

Set in present day Chicago, Cat Girl’s Day Off starts off with Natalie and her cat Meep discussing the Class A Talents of Nat’s family. Dad has super smell, Mom has laser vision and ability to retain extraneous information; twelve-year-old sister Emmy has the highest IQ in the Western Hemisphere, and older sister Viv has truth divination, levitation and X-ray vision. Viv and her dad work at the Bureau of Extrasensory Regulation and Management (BERM). All Nat can do is talk to cats, a “Class D – as in totally dumb – talent,” as she puts it. However, Nat’s talent sure comes in handy when a well known blogger, Easton West, goes missing…and the only one who can help Nat find her is Easton’s cat, Tiddlywinks.

Cover of the book. Image from Facebook.
Being a huge reader, and a fan of Kimberly Pauley’s Sucks to be Me series, I ordered Cat Girl’s Day Off when Amazon emailed me a recommendation for it. After finishing the book and absolutely loving it, I got to interview Kimberly Pauley and pick her brain about Cat Girl’s Day Off!

Cat Girl’s Day Off has a plot line based on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, what inspired the Ferris Bueller take?
“Um…my random brain? Seriously, the original nugget of an idea didn’t have anything to do with Ferris Bueller or movies or anything. It went through several iterations until I finally chanced upon the idea of working in Ferris (which is one of the most awesome movies of all time). Then it really took off,” said Pauley.
“I was living in the Chicago suburbs (like Ferris) at the time and knew I wanted to set the book there and then once I figured out how Nat (the main character) was going to get pulled into this crazy madcap adventure, the movie led me to the locations where the action was going to take place. Most of it wound up at Wrigley Field, but I’d thought about incorporating some of the other movie locations as well originally.” She said.
I love the idea of “Talents.” Did you always wish you could understand what cats think?
“The talent was actually the first thing I had. The original idea was to think up some “useless” super powers and then go from there. I was thinking about a whole series of books, each told from a different person’s point of view and all of them having a really “stupid” power. I would actually love to be able to talk to cats. I think they’d have lots of things to say about…well, about everything,” Pauley said.
My cat Pearl wishes she could hang out with Meep, Rufus and PD!
In Cat Girl’s Day Off because Nat can talk to cats, the readers learn that the cats have an actual name, and the name given to them by their people. Readers learn that Easton’s cat, Tiddlywinks, is really named Rufus Brutus the Third.
How did you come up with the idea of cats being called a name by their person, but having a different name – such as Tiddlywinks being Rufus Brutus the Third?
“I can’t say I came up with that originally. It was T.S. Eliot that said that cats had three names: one everyday name, one particular/peculiar name and lastly:
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
   And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover -
   But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
   The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
   Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
       His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Image from Facebook.
That’s from the poem The Naming of Cats from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. You know the Broadway play Cats? It’s based on that collection of poetry. Definitely worth a read for cat lovers,” said Pauley.
The main cats in the book, Meep, Rufus and Purr Daddy always have great, witty banter between them. Did you find it hard to write in the voice of the cats? Is there anything you did to prepare to write in their voices?
“Perhaps sadly (just ask my husband), I had no trouble been cat-snarky. I’m probably part cat myself,” she said. No worries Kimberly, we all like to think we know what our cats would say if they could talk!
It seems that all authors put a part of themselves in their books, in which character do you most identify yourself?
Well, like Nat, I am also half-Chinese. And short. And a bit quirky. So probably her. Though I do SO love Oscar. He’s based on a few friends of mine that I knew in high school and college. Some people will probably think he’s a bit over the top, but he’s actually pretty tame compared to some of the friends I had…
 Is there a question that you’ve wanted to be asked in interviews, but have never been asked before?

Yes. “Would you like to have dinner with Johnny Depp?” I’m sure you can guess what the answer to that question would be.

Only kind of kidding…always seemed like he would be an interesting guy to talk with (at least based on his choice of movie roles and you gotta love a guy who’s not afraid of eyeliner and wears so many hats so well). Though I did have dinner once with Harry Harrison (one of the grand masters of science fiction) at a convention and I’d love to do that again. He’s awesome.

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This review is solely my opinion. I was not given a copy of this book to review, but did so of my own accord.


  1. Fantastic job Rachel!! Thoroughly engrossing!! I adored the book as well and Kimberly sounds like someone I would love to go to dinner with...she seems incredibly interesting!!

    This was PURRFECT!