A Cat Writer’s Journey

Cat writer Mollie Hunt is the award-winning author of two cosy series, the Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries, featuring a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip, and the Tenth Life Paranormal Mysteries involving a ghost cat. Her Cat Seasons Sci-Fantasy Tetralogy presents extraordinary cats saving the world. She also pens a bit of cat poetry.

Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, the Cat Writers’ Association, and Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA). She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a varying number of cats. Like her cat lady character, she is a grateful shelter volunteer.

One night thirty years ago when my husband was working in Japan and I was left here in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, I sat down at his computer and began writing my first mystery. I was helped along by my cats, Dirty Harry and Little, who took turns walking on the keyboard and sitting on my hands. Even so, before I knew it, I’d finished forty pages! I felt like I’d climbed the Eiffel Tower!

Thus began a journey that would change my life, introduce me to new friends, enhance my self-esteem, and ultimately make me feel like I had something to offer to the world.

Once I discovered my love of writing, I couldn’t wait to put it into practice. I bought a laptop, downloaded WordPerfect 5.1, and worked whenever I could. I started going to writers’ conferences and took some classes. And when I got to the end of a manuscript, I’d compose query letters which I’d send out to publishers and agents. I received many, many rejections, but it didn’t really bother me – I’d just start writing another book.

Many years and ten manuscripts later, I got one of my books published. I was sixty-two. Now, at seventy, I have two cosy series, part of a sci-fantasy tetralogy, a standalone mystery, and a book of cat poetry on my Author Page. I write every day and take great joy in it. 

I couldn’t have done this when I was younger. I’d attempted writing projects several times in my earlier life, but they never went anywhere. I’d get out a few pages of great ideas, read them back and find them not to be perfect, then discard them. It took time and maturity to realise that first drafts aren’t meant to be perfect, and that refining a story from that initial stage to a finished work takes time, patience, and love.

I believe everyone has a creative talent, be it writing, art, home decorating, collecting, stargazing or…? You know this is your talent because when you do it, time stops, and you become one with your project. The Buddha said, ‘Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.’ This much-underrated philosophy, though foreign to our society, is the key to happiness. 

If you look at my book list, you’ll see that most of my books involve cats. Cats are my other passion. I began volunteering at my local humane society in 2006. I was working as a medical records scanner at the time and couldn’t imagine how to fit another thing into my schedule, but again it was something I wanted to do. It took me two years to get around to actually applying for a volunteer post, but once I did and found how much I loved it, it fit seamlessly into my life. My experiences there shaped the hero of my Crazy Cat Lady mysteries, who is also a cat shelter volunteer.

I quit my job and took early retirement when the clinic moved me to a windowless cubicle and wouldn’t let me go on my planned vacation. But it was more than that. In spite of the fact I’d worked there for over a decade and had ushered in the beginning of the electronic medical records era, the new bosses wouldn’t listen to me. And I know why – it was because I was old. Old people become invisible to younger folk. It was a shock, a wake-up call, but I adapted. 

I was already writing stories with characters of a certain age but now I did it with a vengeance. In many of my books, it’s members of my own generation that are the heroes, who go on adventures, solve crimes, and come to the aid of cats and people. I find it very satisfying and have been told by fans my age that they love seeing people like them in important roles.

Find your talent and run with it. That may sound like perfection, but it doesn’t mean there won’t be hard work involved. There will be frustrations and boring parts. There will be a learning curve, adjustments to your life and mind. Priorities must be set and stuck to. Many writers carve out time for their writing while holding a full-time job and caring for a family. It can be done if it’s important to you. And if that’s not enough to inspire you to fulfil your creativity, always ask yourself, ‘If not now, when?’

Mollie Hunt

Meet Mollie’s cats:

Tyler is a nineteen-year-old tabby cat who plays like a kitten. He is so healthy his DNA was studied by Basepaws. He’s a big boy, and though he doesn’t like to sit on laps, he enjoys being next to me when I do research for my books. (In other words, watch TV.)

Jaimz is everything Tyler is not. He’s small with chronic diseases that require monitoring and medication. When I adopted him after fostering him for the humane society, they didn’t think he’d survive much longer, but he rallied, recently celebrating his thirteenth birthday. He likes to lie on his bed behind my computer screen and tell me what he thinks about my stories.

Do you have a furry muse to help you reach your best potential?

Mollie’s Links:

Sign up for Mollie’s Extremely Informal Newsletter and receive a download link for Cat’s Cradle as a welcome gift. You can unsubscribe anytime. 

Other useful links:

Our flash theme for August is cats, Edinburgh and allotments!

Here we are in August. With so many things happening in the world, we plan to keep distracting you with the nicer things in life. This month, it’s #InternationalCatDay (very important to Orlando), Edinburgh festivals season and allotments, just for good measure.

We have some content coming up on the website this month from people who have brilliant and successful creative lives that chime with their love of all things feline. We’re also hoping to hear from allotment lovers to celebrate #NationalAllotmentsWeek and take a peek at older performers at the Edinburgh festival. These are also the themes of our monthly flash competition, which is a photo competition this month.

Are you aged 60 or over? Send us your cat photos! If you’re not a fan of cats (whyever not?), send us your Edinburgh Festival photos! Or send us your allotment photos!

Entries will be accepted until midnight on August 31st and we’ll pick our favourite in early September. The winner will receive a copy of Cat Brushing, the fabulous new short story collection from Jane Campbell, published by riverrun, and imprint of Quercus. The Autumn Voices Content Editor has just read it and reckons it’s very good…

One thought on “A Cat Writer’s Journey”

  1. Thanks so much for publishing my post, but moreover, for alerting me to the presence of this wonderful site. Though we are a world apart, I plan on visiting often.

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