Friday, March 1, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Pop Culture Mystery Author Maya Pruett

Maya Pruett, Author

If you enjoy humor, you’ll want to meet Maya Pruett and her book, THE CAT FOOD CHRONICLES, a mystery about two psychic sisters and a psychic cat. Yes, it’s a mystery – although not in the traditional sense of mysteries.  She offers this warning: “This book is not a cozy formulaic type mystery. It is completely ridiculous.” Fellow fans of The City will be pleased to know it is set in San Francisco. Yay!

In addition to her writing, Maya is an actress and make-up artist. She has been professionally entertaining people for over 25 years. She received the 2008 Santa Barbara Writers Conference Endowed Scholarship Award, launched by the late great Ray Bradbury. She writes in many genres. 

Don't miss the excerpt following the interview.

Q: What inspired you to write about “two psychic sisters and a psychic cat” solving a mystery from the perspective of the cat?

Well, my friend Tom who was a serious cat lover, who by the way just passed … Hi Tom luv ya! Anywho, Tom kept chiding me to take care of this little cat named Puka, who needed a guardian for a bit while its mom was away. So, one day I was hanging out and this Puka came up to me looking all cute and fluffy. I remember (and this is all true) but I remember saying to her, “You ain’t suckin me in little kitty!”

Well, she ignored me and laid down by my side and started purring her love right into my rib cage. It was a really trippy feeling and I took it as a sign to let her into my life.

 So basically, Puk’s was the inspiration for the book, but the book started out as a poem called Pukahontas and can be found on my website. From the poem it turned into a book after I met this cat named Spooky, who by the way does have hair like I describe in the book. Interesting note, both these cats were owned by my friend Lily who was my inspiration for one of the twins.

Anyway, to make a short story long, Puky and I hung out for two years. She was so unusual and would follow me everywhere. For instance, one day I went down to the corner store, then on to Kaimana Beach, a beach that I used to hang out at. Later that night about midnight one of my friends asked, “Where’s Puky?”

I looked around and then remembered she had followed me to the store that afternoon. I threw on some shoes and walked down to the store and sure enough, Puky jumps down from a tree and comes over and rubs on my leg. She had been waiting there all day thinking I was coming back from the store. She was such a trip, and boy do I miss her. Puky was really something. I’m quite sure she was sent to watch over me and ultimately inspire me to write this series.

Q: Why a six-part serial rather than a book?

It's both, meaning that I have a complete novel up as well. Still, I wanted to do parts because of the book’s title and also I wanted to give people a chance to buy the first part at a price-point that was super affordable. I charge $1.99 per part, but if you want to get the complete novel you can purchase that for $9.99 and save $2.00!

The book is really ridiculous and way out there. I really suggest people look inside and read some of it before they buy it. I am getting some very interesting feedback and have found, either people love it or hate it. I even put a warning disclaimer at the beginning of the description on Amazon. I did this because some people are expecting it to be a cozy formulaic style mystery, and it is far from that.

It's rather unusual, with a Hunter S. Thompson sort of stream of consciousness type narration and there is some strong to mild language as well. I tell people, if you like the show 30 Rock or authors like Christopher Moore and Carl Hiaasen then you've come to the right place.

Q: How helpful is San Francisco as a setting?

A lot. I was raised in California and my family lives in the Bay Area, so San Fran is forever ingrained in my memories of growing up. It's such a neat town, with neat people, and neat smells. I remember wondering one time when I was younger ... just exactly what kind of people pull into a harbor and see hill after hill that look like a rollercoaster and say, “Let's build a city here.”

Of course, now as an adult, I realize that the pioneers that built that majestic city are my kind of people, and really, how could you not build there, I mean look at the back drop one had to work with. Redwoods, mountains, and the pacific ocean. Not bad huh?

 Q: What makes your characters credible and compelling? What makes your readers care about your characters?

I think what makes them compelling is that they are funny and honest. They are not afraid to debate politics, tell long winded stories, or tell each other off. The lead character, a psychic cat named Spooky Sinclair, is a nut but she's really quite personable so you feel like she is someone you could dance with, drink with, eat with, and solve a crime with.

As for credible, the only semblance of credibility these clowns have is their humanity. Because there is something quite real about a perimenopausal twin yelling insults at a cat.

Q: In a fantasy world, what pulls in your readers? Characters? Back story? Suspense? How important is believability?

I want both my characters and story to pull you in. First my characters have to be interesting, which does not necessarily mean likeable. Of course, they have to have some redeeming qualities but I like characters that grow. I find it much more satisfying to start out with a few serious flaws and then make that arch that all good stories end with.

I have had some readers get turned off because they start thinking that when the story goes to a dark place, and mind you, nothing in this story is that dark, but they think that when the book diverts from its regular scheduled programming of funny, ha ha, C'est la vie  type attitude, they get uncomfortable. I really want to tell them, keep reading, it all comes round but most likely not the way you would expect, and I must say, I think that is absolutely what is good about the book, what makes it suspenseful and interesting.

For me believability is twofold because THE CAT FOOD CHRONICLES is so out there. It's comedy and good comedy has to be played straight. So yes, believability is important but you must not let it get in the way of your sense of fun.

Q: Do your characters push you around and make you write what they want? Or are you in control?

I'd say definitely, my characters are on their own program, which I love. Some characters really come to life. It's wild because you don't expect them to have such a strong voice. That's what happened to the character Tameron in this first book. I had no idea she was going to become so dominate. It was so unexpected and I really quite enjoyed it. I have fallen in love with her character and so I gave her a lot of good lines.

Q: What makes a hero/heroine? And on the flip side, what makes a villain?

I'll have to site Mick Jagger. Who by the way, is in the book, but I agree when he sings.
“Because every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints.”

I like heroes that aren't perfect but are trying. And I like my villains that way too. I don't like one note anything. Now, the degree in which a character can live with his or her actions, is to me, what's interesting.

Q: Tell us something about yourself. What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a muse? If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I'm like most writers, I love to hang out in book stores and libraries. I love movies and music, and I consider the universe my muse. I talk to it like my friend and I have raised my hand and asked it to send through some inspirational, creative concepts and ideas. So far so good!

Chapter One
I know this sounds weird, but I can read lips. Of course, you're probably thinking, why would a cat want to read lips? A fair question and the answer is I don't. The fact is, I can't hear so great. I can read minds though, how's that for a wing-dinger? Yep, I'm telepathic, so really the hearing impediment thing isn't much of a problem, and well, actually I tend to only read lips if I'm preoccupied. Guess who was preoccupied?
I was all curled up on the Lazyboy under the big palm watching my favorite show on the boob tube. Lily was on the phone, imagine that, and things were getting a little nutty for Batman and the Boy Wonder. It seems, Batman and the Boy Wonder were just about to be sawed in half when I happened to glance up to see Lily say that she needed a CAT Scan. At first, I thought she said cat scam, I mean who would she need me to scam? I'm not that kind of cat anyway, how dare she even insinuate such a thing. But then she said it again.
"Yes, I'm sure Holly, a CAT Scan!"
Holy scantonese noodles Batman, what the hell do you think I need to be scanned for? I've got all my shots. I've been de-wormed twice this year, and this is the fourth time I have made my claws grow back. I can make my claws grow back. I have serious mental powers, plus I read a book by Ernest Holmes called, The Science of the Mind which gave me some great ideas like growing my claws back. I'd recommend it to Oprah.
I hopped off the Lazyboy and went into the kitchen and circled around Lily's legs, but Lily just kept blabbing away about scanning me. I glanced at the TV where a giant maniacal saw was whirling steadily toward the dynamic duo. It was too much, I couldn't concentrate, CAT Scan overload, so I beat it out of there.
I sprinted out into the cool night air glad to be away from even the idea of a scanning. I was hungry as usual, which meant I needed a San Francisco treat, and let me tell you, I wasn't thinking about Rice a Roni. I licked my soon to be grubby little paws and made my way down the north-face fire escape.
I live in an area that many years ago housed dockworkers and fisherman. The area is called Telegraph Hill, and there are a lot of cats in the neighborhood. The building I live in is called The Old Brown. Lily and Holly inherited it. They're lucky as hell too boy, because this is prime San Francisco real estate. We more or less remodeled The Old Brown ourselves. It took us about twelve years. Holly lives up top and Lily lives bottom side.
I was thinking. It's always nice to get out of the house, when I came to The Greenwich Stairs. I looked around really good; the coast seemed clear, but just in case I shot down em like a rocket. The stairs are The Greenwich Street Stairs and they're famous. About three months ago some ass-lip kicked me down them, and my ribs still hurt from the tumble. Humans are often cruel. Anyway, I don't want to think about that. I want to think about Batman.
I luv Batman; he's hot, although he looks like a cat to me, in fact, he looks like this cat I know who lives down in Chinatown. This cat's got the longest ears ever, real pointy too. But dig this, his owner makes him wear a black cape during the winter, hence Batman. It's waterproof so that's good since it's always frickin raining, but the poor dude looks ridiculous. People are weird.
Thank god it wasn't raining tonight. I stopped on stair one hundred and thirty-two or whichever, lifted my nose to the moon and smelled the city, boy what a city. I don't ever count the stairs. Holly counts them every time she walks up or down them, how OCD is that?
I thought about going into Chinatown, but I was feeling a little too wacky still. Chinatown at night is nowhere to be for a cat. Anything can happen in Chinatown, like cat chow fun for one. I joke, but I really dig the way the Chinese, do medicine. Think about this, the Chinese have had some three thousand odd years of holistic healing. That's some serious shi ... atsu!
Okay, so I decided to head up to North Beach and kill two birds with one stone, Italian called. For the nine lives of me, I can't figure out why most cats like to eat birds and all that other foul crap. No pun intended. Truly though, why eat a bird when you can eat a slice of pizza? Yep, North Beach it is. I figured I'd do research for Lily's newest entrepreneurial exercise, which could actually make us rich. And let's be clear, that's a goal in our household.
Lily and Holly are super cool. They look exactly alike, but they act completely different. Still, no matter how differently they behave, they sure got that twin thing going. I can't really call them my owners, and I doubt they would call me their pet; we're more like best friends. I'm welcome to stay at their house anytime and eat whatever I want. So I have ... for about the last nineteen years.
We all met the year after the girls graduated from high school. Lily had been dating this guy who was a Scientologist. He was really super cute, Rob Lowe cute, except he had long wavy hair. Lily likes rockers. It didn't last though, because it was pure lust on Lil's part. One day, he asked her to marry him. She said yes, but on their wedding day Lily lost her nerve and told him in good conscience, he was beautiful, but she did not love him. He took it hard but was really quite cool about it.
Now, this is where I come in. The cutie Scientologist had gotten her a cat because Scientology wedding tradition suggests a cat as a wedding present. They also suggest a pan and a comb ... I was in good company. Lily was quite touched that he still wanted her to have me as a non-official wedding present, and they remained friends for many years until he moved to Hollywood to be a movie star.
I don't think that panned out, although we did see him on a soap opera for a season. He wasn't a bad actor, but he had cut his beautiful hair, and it made Lily cry every time we watched him. Okay, I'm getting side tracked. Let me tell you a bit about myself, and then I'll tell you about how I am going to make Holly and Lily rich. I am a small and unusual looking cat. I have honestly never seen a cat that looks like me. I'm hard to explain, but I'll try.
First, I am not much bigger than when she got me, so I look like a kitten, though I am by no means a kitten. I look under fed, which is a laugh, and I incite feelings of pity in most people, except the jerk off that kicked me down the stairs. My eyes are rather piercing in my very small head, and they are the precise color that you see on the advertising poster for the play Cats.
True story, I once me t a transvestite wearing a shiny gold lame' jacket the same color of my eyes. His name was Geoffrey, and he draped me over his shoulder and wore me to a block party in The Castro I was a huge hit!

About Maya Pruett

Maya likes to count chickens before and after they're hatched, attempt car repossession alone at night, debate television personalities while in her living room, and of course speed-walk! She is the creator of Spooky Sinclair, the lead character in the delightfully ridiculous, six-part serial novel, The Cat Food Chronicles.

Maya is a writer, actress, and make-up artist with national and international credits. She has been professionally entertaining people for over 25 years, and was the recipient of the 2008 Santa Barbara Writers Conference Endowed Scholarship Award, launched by the late great Ray Bradbury.

Maya writes in many genres, including fiction, non-fiction, children's, and young adult. If you would like to learn more about Maya, please visit her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or her blog.

The Cat Food Chronicles: Book One (A Spooky Sinclair Serial)
Maya Pruett
Pop-Culture Mystery
Worthington Press Publishing House
Release Date:
B0099IDKCE / 978-0-9882890-6-2
Purchase Link:
Author/Book Website:
Book Description:

An award wining novel about two psychics sisters, one psychic cat, an irkily handsome detective, and a dead celebutante!
... WARNING ...

Level: Adult & Young Adult (16 & up)


Following in the footsteps of Britney, Lindsey, and the likes, Callie Bryant, Hollywood's newest bad girl, comes to town as the lead in the much awaited Romeo and Juliet ... the Rock Opera.

When Callie actually dies on stage, Lily, Holly and Spooky (two psychic sisters and one psychic cat) get together with the irkily handsome, yet musically inclined Detective Richardson to solve the crime.
Set in San Francisco, The Cat Food Chronicles is a story of
cats, crime, cuisine, and lol comedy.
You can buy The Cat Food Chronicles in two ways.
Part 1-6 for $1.99 a piece … or the complete novel for $9.99.

You save two dollars if you buy the complete novel!


  1. I really enjoyed this post Joyce. I loved learning about Author Maya Pruett and I think this book is going to be next on my list to read. I agree with Sheila that is one fascinating cat! Great post ladies.

    Syl Stein