Today my guest is Kat Otis, short fiction author, fellow Codexian, and cat owner:
1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.
I have two cats. Aurora is the calico (well, technically a “tortoiseshell-over-white”) and her favorite activities include climbing trees, climbing on her human, climbing on furniture, and chasing acorns.
(This gets my vote, by the way, for Most Photogenic Pet Photo)
Macavity is the black cat and his favorite activities include eating, napping, destroying cardboard boxes, and escaping to run amok through the neighbors’ yards. They both feature in my standard author bio as they are amazingly tolerant of my peripatetic lifestyle, which means they generally spend at least 10 hours a month in the car.
2) How do they help/hinder your writing?
Aurora is an accomplished author in her own right! She often steals my computer to edit my prose, visit chatrooms, Tweet, and write long, impassioned emails to her grandparents complaining that I don’t let her outside enough. She even ghost-wrote a few words for a friend’s story – for which she was of course paid professional rates of 6 cat treats per word. She’s also quite skilled in opening iTunes when I need inspiration and shutting down my laptop when it’s obviously time to take a break and pet her.
Macavity is less literarily-inclined but he has been known to prop up books for me when I’m researching. He would prefer to prop up something lighter – like an iPad – but unfortunately only his grandmother regularly reads e-books.
3) Do they appear in any of your works?
Neither of them appear in my works explicitly, but their personalities have snuck into a human character or two and the experiences they’ve put me through definitely inform some of the experiences my characters have. If you ever see a POV character panicking about another POV character being lost, injured, or dying, I’m probably drawing on my experience as a cat-mommy!
4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)
One of the hardest part of being a pet owner is knowing that you’re investing all your time, energy, and love in someone who is going to pre-decease you. Unless you have a pet tortoise, your pet is going to have a significantly lower life expectancy than humans. My fiction often grapples with questions of mortality and immortality – or at least extremely long lifespans – and how that shapes the relationships between my characters.
How does your immortal cope with the fact that most of the people around them are going to die and their relationships can’t be anything but fleeting? Do they withdraw from mortal society? Do they set themselves up as gods and see mortals as inferior? Do they bash themselves against the cliffs of loss until they’ve broken themselves entirely? And on the flip side, relationships between immortals must have thousands of years of history behind them. How do those relationships morph and change over the centuries? How much strife can they endure before they are irreparably broken? And is there such a thing as “never” when you’re going to live “forever”?
Kat Otis lives a peripatetic life with a pair of cats who enjoy riding in the car as long as there’s no country music involved. Her fiction has appeared in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and Flash Fiction Online. She can be found online at katotis.com or on Twitter as @kat_otis.
And about some of her recent work:
One of my favorite new stories, first published in 2015, is “Whistles and Trills”. In a fantastical version of World War II with giants, sea serpents, and intelligent birds, a plane goes down in a blizzard over the Alps. How will the passengers survive? Pick up World Weaver Press’s Corvidae anthology to find out!