In the continuing study of why authors need animal assistance, today my guest is Laura Pearlman, so let’s get right to it!
1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.
I have two cats, Thunder and Seffie. Thunder’s eleven years old; I’ve had him since he was a ten-week-old kitten. One of the first things I noticed about him was that he was loud: his meow was loud, his purr was loud, and whenever he ran across my wooden living-room floor, he sounded like a herd of wildebeest. So I named him after something loud.
Thunder’s worst habit is chewing on plastic–I have to keep anything plastic out of his reach. His favorite toy is anything that looks like it’s trying to hide from him; he likes it when I push a toy mouse a few inches under the couch, so he can reach it but has to work for it. He also loves treats, but I make the cats work for them. I scatter their treats on an “activity board”, and they have to maneuver around obstacles to get them out.
Thunder’s other favorite activity is cuddling with me and/or Seffie. I’ve had Seffie for three years; she was about six or eight months old when I adopted her. Seffie is short for Purrsephone: she divides her time between the sunny areas of the house and the dark nether regions of my closet, so I named after Persephone from Greek mythology (the “Purr” is because she purrs a lot). Her favorite things are cuddling, being petted, chasing the laser pointer, and playing with a plastic spring toy. One of her previous favorite activities was dropping her toys into her water bowl, but she seems to have outgrown that.
The two cats get along pretty well; they’ll often cuddle and groom each other, and they never really fight–but that’s mostly because, any time a dispute seems to be brewing, Seffie will back off. Seffie’s a little fearful in general, but she seems to be slowly growing more confident. Seffie and Thunder cuddle together and play separately; they almost never play together.
2) How do they help/hinder your writing?
Thunder is very assertive when he wants something; he’ll meow, paw at me, paw at my laptop, jump on the keyboard–anything to get my attention.
(Yes, this looks like an assertive cat.)
So that’s a bit of a hindrance. Seffie will also jump on me and start purring, which leaves me no choice but to stop whatever I’m doing and pet her. On the other hand, sometimes they’re the perfect writer’s cats, curling up next to me or nearby.
3) Do they appear in any of your works?
Thunder was in my first publication, sort of. The McSweeney’s humor website ran a list I wrote of overly wordy LOLcat captions, one of which was inspired by a picture of Thunder.
The cat in “In the End, You Get Clarity”* was a composite of several cats from my past.
I also sometimes write about my cats on my blog, but that doesn’t count.
4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)
After I adopted Seffie, I started volunteering at a cat shelter. Most of the cats live in communal cat rooms, and it’s a no-kill shelter, so some of the cats have been living together for years. Observing those relationships (and how they change over time) often reminds me that social structures can be much more complex than they appear at first.
*Laura’s most recent publication, her darkly humorous short story “In the End, You Get Clarity” in the anthology Unidentified Funny Objects 4.
Laura writes stories about revenge, radishes,and regret. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Shimmer, Flash Fiction Online, the Drabblecast, Unidentified Funny Objects 4, Daily Science Fiction, and Mothership Zeta.