Tell us about the book.
The Divine Feline: A Chic Cat Lady’s Guide to Woman’s Best Friend, is an unapologetic celebration of the love affair between women and cats. It is overflowing with all the things a chic cat lady needs to know from the history of women and cats from Ancient Egypt to the present time, my memoirs of my life with cats, magic spells to do with your cat, and loads of information on behavioural and health issues.
What inspired this book?
The idea of a book about the history of women and cats was sparked by a conversation I had with feline specialist vet, Professor Vanessa Barrs, about how there seemed to be some link between cat-hating and misogyny. Certainly, women are ridiculed by the lore of the ‘crazy cat lady’ which seems to be a warning that being independent and unmarried are not acceptable, even today. ‘Take that route, my dear, and you’ll end up a sad old thing who dies alone and isn’t found until three weeks later after half your face as been eaten by your ravenous cats.’ Interestingly, there is no equivalent of that tale for men. I felt there was some connection between a dislike of cats and the oppression of women, and in researching the history of women and cats, I believe I found the origin of it.
What do you hope your readers will take away from reading your book?
To completely kick the label of ‘crazy cat lady’ to the curb. There is nothing wrong with loving cats any more than there is something wrong with watching sports on television, ballroom dancing, chess or any other activity that brings you joy. Rather than being hermits, studies have shown that women who love cats are generally refined, cultured, educated, professional and upwardly mobile. Even more importantly, they have great social networks whether they are married or single. I hope an appreciation of the history of woman and cats, as well as some insight into why cats behave the way they do, will make chic cat ladies feel empowered and deepen their bonds with their feline companions.
How does it feel to hold this book in your hands?
It feels fabulous! It has been quite a journey to write this book and the end product is stunningly beautiful. Everything about the book, from the whimsical illustrations by Neryl Walker, to the quality of the paper and weightiness of the hardback format, to the beautiful black cat end papers and velvet spine, make this book a feast for the senses. It like a gorgeous ‘Girls’ Own’ compendium for cat ladies!
Are you able to switch off at the end of a day of writing? If so, how?
I have great difficulty switching off at the end of the day because so much of what I do creatively comes up from my subconscious mind. I try to relax by absorbing myself in activities that require complete concentration, like belly and flamenco dancing where you have to use every part of your body. Still, this isn’t always effective in terms of having a restful sleep. Often I dream not only about the book I am writing, but about dancing too!