A California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal:
Community - Entertainment - Human Interest


Weekly issues every Saturday morning and other special articles throughout the week — there's something for everyone. Check out our sister site KRL News & Reviews for even more articles every week.

Previous post:

Next post:


Gone, Kitty, Gone By Eileen Watkins: Review/Giveaway/Interview

IN THE January 25 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andPets
SECTIONS

by Cynthia Chow

This week we have a review of another fun pet mystery, Gone, Kitty, Gone by Eileen Watkins, and we have an interesting interview with Eileen. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Gone, Kitty, Gone. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.

Gone, Kitty, Gone: A Cat Groomer Mystery by Eileen Watkins
Review by Cynthia Chow

Cassie McGlone is looking forward to promoting her Cassie’s Comfy Cats grooming business at the upcoming North Jersey Cat Expo held in the Bradburne Hotel and Convention Center. With a brand-new mobile grooming van, an enthusiastic Cassie signed on to demonstrate her cat grooming techniques on rescues and raise awareness for the Friends of Chadwick Animals shelter cats. An unexpected draw to the event will be an appearance by Jacki Natal, a former local who made it big as a singer and is just as famous for instagramming her constant feline companion, Gordie. The Scottish Fold has his own following, which makes his disappearance during a hotel blackout and fire alarm more than a little suspicious.

mysteryHaving built herself something of a reputation in solving criminal activities, Cassie is only slightly surprised when Detective Angela Bonelli asks her to provide inside information on the Expo while grooming cats and attending the featured cat show competitions. What does catch Cassie off-guard is the request by Jacki herself to investigate and essentially go undercover after the celebrity receives a multitude of cat-ransom demands. Cassie will have to filter out the fake notes from the true ones as she determines who had the hacking skills to shut down the hotel and still sneak out the famous feline past security and groupies. The death of a security guard raises the stakes of Cassie’s investigation, especially when both Gordie’s and Jaki’s lives are at risk.

This light-hearted novel is catnip for cat aficionados as much it will appeal to mystery fans. Sprinkled throughout are descriptions of the meticulous care required for exquisite, but high-maintenance, long-haired feline breeds. Similarly explored are the elaborate rules and regulations involved in competitive cat shows, as Cassie’s mother’s new boyfriend has his “unique” hairless sphinx entered in the altered division. That brings in the issue concerning animal rights advocates, who protest outside of the Expo exhorting health-challenged purebreds in favor of rescue adoptions. That one of FOCA shelter volunteers seems to be among their very assertive proponents is more than a little disconcerting, especially considering the missing Gordie’s pedigree.

Jaki’s spurned ex, rabid “Jak-ette” fans, and an obsessed stalker have Cassie utilizing all of her college-major psychology skills to help her become an amateur profiling and track down a killer. Her own troubled past relationship, a promising new one with a local veterinarian, and seeing her mother move on with love all help to round out Cassie into a fascinating and fully-formed character. Readers will be educated on cat care and advocacy through the spoonful-of-sugar method that delivers meaningful information through clever plotting and sympathetic, thoughtful characters.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).


Interview with Eileen Watkins:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Eileen: I wrote a Dark Shadows fan fiction novel my senior year of college, for my friends, and my first original novel the year after I graduated. A year or two after that, I wrote an early version of what would become my first published novel…decades later.

KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?

Eileen: Dance with the Dragon, a vampire thriller, came out in 2003. It was a modern-day sequel to Dracula, though my character never goes by that name; he’s doing remote viewing, and other espionage work, for the U.S. government. He’s teamed up with a female partner who has a few powers of her own.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense?

Eileen: I’ve always written some type of suspense. Of my first eight books with a POD publisher, seven were paranormal; I also did one romantic mystery with them, Ride a Dancing Horse.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

Eileen Watkins

Eileen: The Cat Groomer Mysteries developed from an idea of my publisher’s. I’m an animal lover, and felt I could enjoy writing about someone who works with animals professionally. I knew they wanted a cozy series, and those are usually set in small towns, so I picked an area of New Jersey that is rural but being discovered by tourists. If my character is going to board and groom cats, she needs a well-heeled clientele. But there are woods and mountains nearby, and less-privileged residents in the older neighborhoods. For a murder mystery, that would give me a wide range of potential victims, suspects, and motives. I wanted Cassie to be fairly young and just starting her business, so she’d have the energy to investigate crimes and no husband or children to tie her down. She does end up with a boyfriend—the town vet—and confides in her best friend Dawn, who runs the health food store. She also ends up on good terms with the town’s female police detective.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Eileen: I’m sure readers want to be entertained, first and foremost, but I also try to plant tips about cats, their behavior, and their handling along the way. Rather than making them simply cute or funny, I deal with them as real animals who need care and sometimes protecting. Cassie is responsible for her own three cats and up to a dozen boarders at a time, and she takes that seriously. The cats in my books don’t solve the murders, but they provide motivation for some crimes and need rescuing in other cases. Okay, one cat does dig up a clue, and another mauls a bad guy at a key moment! But I don’t make them do anything a real cat couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Eileen: Right around the time I got the contract for this series, I was able to retire from my job as a newspaper (features) writer and editor. So now I have the luxury of being able to write my fiction during “work hours.” Generally, I work on new material in the morning, take a break in the early afternoon, and rewrite or polish later in the day. Of course, some of that time may go into researching background information.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Eileen: My publisher requires that I submit at least a general outline, well before I’ve started writing the book. This is kind of hard with a mystery, because halfway through I might think of a much better plot twist, and want to follow that inspiration. So I need to keep my editor apprised if things start to go in a much different direction.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Eileen: Oh, yes. At the risk of dating myself…I finished my first paranormal thriller—which never did get published—in 1973. Dance with the Dragon came out 30 years later. During those decades I was writing full-length novels, submitting them, getting them back, rewriting them, rinse, repeat. When I finally connected with the POD publisher, I had seven novels that had been through that revision process, just sitting in my files. They all finally got into print, as did an eighth, One Blood, a prequel to DD. During this whole time, I was making my living writing and editing for daily newspapers, so I don’t think it was my lack of skill with words. I just finally connected with a publisher who appreciated my quirky subject matter. This also was just at the beginning of electronic publishing.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Eileen: A reviewer with a horse-related magazine once savaged Ride a Dancing Horse, which was one of my best sellers in POD. She quoted some lines that I’d meant to be funny as if they were deadly serious, and said my mystery had “too many suspects.” (I think there were six, at most.) I had to conclude that she mostly reviewed nonfiction and had never read a romance or a cozy mystery before in her life.

KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?

Eileen: The first time I attended Bouchercon, I knew my publisher was holding a big signing for all of its authors in one of the ballrooms. I felt like a huge success when people kept asking me to sign copies of The Persian Always Meows Twice, my first Cat Groomer book. Then I asked a fellow author, “Where are they paying for these books?” She enlightened me, “Oh, they’re giveaways.” That would explain while my pile disappeared so fast!

KRL: Future writing goals?

Eileen: My fourth Cat Groom Mystery, Gone, Kitty, Gone, came out at the end of last year, and I’m about to turn in my fifth, Claw & Disorder. I have an idea for the sixth that will have a Halloween theme. That should be great fun—as you can imagine, I love Halloween. I’ll get to add a touch of spookiness without really going paranormal.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Eileen: Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives) and Barbara Michaels (House of Many Shadows, Be Buried in the Rain). Both were primarily mystery writers who tackled otherworldly themes. Among living authors who also write sensibly about animals, I admire Clea Simon and E. J. Copperman.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Eileen: Each plot usually requires a particular type of research. For Persian and Gone, Kitty, Gone, I called upon my cousin, a former intellectual property lawyer in Silicon Valley, for information on some high-tech crimes. For The Bengal Identity and Feral Attraction, I had to learn more about those types of cats. G,K,G also takes place at a huge cat-centric expo, and though I’ve been to a couple I had to investigate just how one would be organized.

KRL: What do you read?

Eileen: A lot of other cozies or traditional mysteries, but I still like a thriller now and then.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Eileen: To get my mind off fiction, I binge on HGTV! I also like sitcoms with clever storylines and dialogue. I don’t watch a lot of mystery or crime shows on TV. As for movies, recently I’ve seen mostly biographies, like On the Basis of Sex and Bohemian Rhapsody.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Eileen: The publishing world is much different today from when I started out. I will say, avoid self-publishing too early in your career. Many people seem to be choosing that as a way to avoid negative feedback…but if their book isn’t ready, they’ll get negative reviews on Amazon, anyway. Keep looking for a “traditional” publisher, however small, that specializes in what you want to write. And whichever way you go, get a professional editor with real credentials to look at your work. There is too much on the market today with repeated errors, a sign that even whoever vetted it didn’t know right from wrong.

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Eileen: Pick a subject that really interests you, and figure out how to package it to appeal to today’s readers. The great thing about mystery is that you can start with any background, and just throw in a murder!

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Eileen: I have only one cat at the moment and never had more than two. Because of my series, people seem to think I must have cats galore.

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?

Eileen: www.efwatkins.com, www.facebook.com/EileenWatkinsAuthor
(No Twitter. “I don’t Tweet, don’t ask me…”)

To enter to win a copy of Gone, Kitty, Gone, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “kitty,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 1, 2020. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted when the contest is over. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up this week.

Click on this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anne January 25, 2020 at 9:29am

A unique and appealing mystery which I would enjoy. Thanks for this interesting interview.

Reply

2 Glen Davis January 25, 2020 at 10:18am

Great interview! Count me in!

Reply

3 Jeanie Dannheim
Twitter: @JeanieDannheim
January 25, 2020 at 12:30pm

I would love to read this. Cat cozies are among my favorites!

Reply

4 Donamae January 25, 2020 at 1:05pm

Is ride a dancing horse available? I can’t wait to read your new book. A Halloween book sounds like fun to read. I like vets in the stories it’s interesting to read about the animals they take care of.

Reply

5 Eileen Watkins January 26, 2020 at 10:37am

Thanks for your interest! Looks like there are still some copies out there, for only $5: https://www.amazon.com/Ride-Dancing-Horse-F-Watkins/dp/1592798446/ref=sr_1_15?keywords=Eileen+Watkins&qid=1580063724&s=books&sr=1-15

Reply

6 Donamae January 25, 2020 at 1:31pm

This book sounds like fun to read. I like stories with animals. This sounds like fun to read. Thank you for the chance Donakutska7@gmail.com

Reply

7 Kata Marks January 25, 2020 at 4:14pm

This sounds really cute! Legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

Reply

8 Alicia January 25, 2020 at 8:32pm

Look at that adorable face! Reminds me a bit of my cat when she wants a treat. Who could say no?!
kozo8989@hotmail.com

Reply

9 Eileen Watkins January 26, 2020 at 10:39am

Gordie is a Scottish fold, so he’s got folded-down ears. That makes him look every more bewildered, though in this book he’s got a lot to be worried about! (Spoiler alert: He’s rescued, though.)

Reply

10 Carol Knudtson January 26, 2020 at 6:32am

This series sounds wonderful. Thanks for the contest.

Reply

11 Carl January 26, 2020 at 7:05am

Sounds like a really fun story, perfect for cat lovers. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

Reply

12 Taylor R. Williams January 26, 2020 at 9:48am

Sure would love to win – thanks for the chance ! trwilliams69(at)msn(dot)com

Reply

13 Robin Leslie Coxon January 26, 2020 at 10:30am

I love cats and am drawn to any book with a cat on the cover and in the story. Thanks for the insight. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

14 DOWARD WILSON January 26, 2020 at 11:18am

Sounds like a great read.

Reply

15 Kelly Braun
Twitter: @69steelers2
January 26, 2020 at 12:08pm

What a great interview- I just found a Fabulous new Author, Thanks!
Can’t wait to check her books out ??
Cheers-
Kelly Braun
Gaelicark(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

16 Dianne Casey January 26, 2020 at 2:18pm

I love reading cozies featuring dogs and cats in cozies. Would really like to read both books.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

Reply

17 Marilyn
Twitter: @MarilynWatson18
January 26, 2020 at 2:45pm

What a cute cover…thank you for the contest.
Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

Reply

18 Jeanne Kennedy
Twitter: @jeanneakr
January 30, 2020 at 4:36am

I love cozy mysteries and this one sounds especially appealing with the adorable cover! It was a great and interesting interview!

Reply

19 NANCY February 1, 2020 at 7:12pm

Cute cover

positive DOT ideas DOT 4you AT gmail DOT com
A recent post from NANCY: Love Hacks: Create Romantic MomentsMy Profile

Reply

20 Lorie
Twitter: @myteryrat
February 10, 2020 at 2:16pm

We have a winner!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only; No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Arts & Entertainment

  • Books & Tales

  • Community

  • Education

  • Food Fun

  • Helping Hands

  • Hometown History

  • Pets

  • Teens

  • Terrific Tales