Interview with Sparkle the Cat: 'I was exploited by my human'

Sparkle is an award-winning author, blogger, advice columnist and supermodel. She is also a cat – a ruddy Somali of champion lineage, in fact, whose father, GC Tajhara’s Miles Davis, was twice on the cover of Cat Fancy. Sparkle’s first book, Dear Sparkle: Advice from One Cat to Another, won the Wild Card category at the 2007 Hollywood Book Festival and honorable mentions in several other contests. She also recently came home with the Pettie Award — the pet blogging equivalent of an Oscar — for Best Cat Blog. Sparkle lives in Los Angeles with two humans, two feline roommates (both rescue cats), and (unfortunately) a dog.

Dear Sparkle: Cat-to-Cat Advice from the World’s Foremost Feline Columnist (Adams Media) is her second book.

You can visit Sparkle’s blog at http://www.sparklecat.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Sparkle. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Dear Sparkle: Cat-to-Cat Advice from the World's Foremost Feline Columnist?

I actually had not intended to write at all. As you might gather, cats are generally more well-equipped to catch bugs and supervise human activity. But I was exploited by my human at an early age — I was just six months old when she bought my domain name, www.sparklecat.com, and had me start blogging. That was in January 2003. Little did she realize that humans were far more interested in what I had to say than in anything she was writing about at the time. Later that year, I added a monthly advice column. It made my blog even more popular, so when I had enough columns to make up a book (about three years’ worth), I put them together in book form on my human’s micro-publishing imprint. It earned a few awards (winning the Wild Card category in the Hollywood Book Festival and Honorable Mentions in several other contests). Three years later, I was planning to put out a second book, again through print-on-demand micro-publishing, but my human’s literary agency said they could get me a book deal with a traditional publisher, so I went for it. Adams Media picked it up, and I had to write a lot more advice, since they wanted twice as much as what I already had prepared! It was quite a bit of work, but totally worth it. (Incidentally, I still had my day job of bug catching and human supervising, so all this kept me quite busy!)


Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

I actually did not choose it — my publisher came up with it. That was just one of the many things they did that I liked! The cover and interior layout, which they also designed, is amazing. In fact, the interior layout (which includes several dozen photos of me) was a winner in the National “Best Books 2010” Awards! The book itself also won in the Animals/Pets: Novelty category.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

I guess you’ve never talked to any cats, have you? Cats have lots of problems and complaints (often concerning their humans), and before me, the only cat experts out there were humans themselves. How can anyone expect a problem to be solved by the very species that is causing it to begin with? So I stepped in to fill a void. I think it’s important that cat-to-cat advice be available in book form so it’s all in one place, and cats don't have to go searching all over the internet for it. We have better things to do than Google you know — we’ve got naps to take, bugs to catch and humans to supervise!


Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

I don’t know that they’ve done anything, other than send me a big box of postcards (which was very cool of them) and put the book in stores — but I didn’t expect them to do a lot either. They are a mid-sized publishing house and don’t exactly have a huge budget for that type of thing. I went into this figuring I would have to depend on my human for most of the publicity and marketing chores. But I have to say she is not the go-getter I wish she were. I have to sit on her constantly if I want to see any results at all.


Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

There really aren’t any books that do exactly what mine does: offer advice on a variety of kitty complaints. Sure, there are books by humans who call themselves cat experts (The Cat Behavior Answer Book by Arden Moore or Cat Training in 10 Minutes by Miriam Fields-Babineau, for example), but they are not directed toward cats and lack the perspective that we felines would find helpful. My fellow feline author, Quasi, has written a couple of nice books, The World is Your Litter Box and The World is Still Your Litter Box, which are helpful, but they are only written from Quasi’s point of view, and don’t take the experiences of other cats into account. Then there’s The Devious Book for Cats, which seems to actually make fun of us kitties! I find that both not-helpful and not-funny.


Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

I am giving advice to a cat who is frustrated because his humans eat gourmet salmon, ahi tuna and chicken, and they don’t share it with him. I offer time-proven suggestions on how to request samples...and what to do if these ploys do not work.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I don’t exactly have anything “planned,” although I do have some ideas. Adams Media has first right of refusal on any new book I come up with. But right now I’m more focused on getting Dear Sparkle into the hands of as many kitties as possible.


Q: Thank you for your interview, Sparkle. Do you have any final words?

Yes! Buy my book and come visit my website. Especially if you are a cat. If you’re a human, buy the book and visit my site anyway — you might learn something.
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