Your new novel Cool Cat 2: Hell on
Route 666 - in a few words, what is it about?
That’s a good question. I’m not sure that I can follow the plot –
and I wrote it! It’s the sequel to Cool
Cat, which was published by Midnight Marquee in 2007. The
“Cool Cat” of the title is Catherine “Cat” Warburton, blonde
bombshell and rebellious wild child of rich and influential parents, who
goes undercover for a very secret crime-busting agency. Her world is that
of the cult “exploitation” and “blaxploitation” movies of the
1970’s. Sinister supernatural forces are causing mayhem and murder in
polite suburban neighbourhoods and escalate to threaten the whole of human
civilisation. Cat “embarks on a wild ride of blood, lust and terror that
takes her from leafy suburbs, hippie colonies and Indian Reservations to
barren wastelands and down the ‘Devil’s Highway’ – Route 666 ….
Aided and abetted by ‘Soul Sister’ Selena and the exotic Aiko, she
encounters rednecks and Hell’s Angels; trigger-happy cops; medicine men
and guerrilla fighters; strange cults; monsters and demons and the legion
of the living dead – and a black Boss Mustang with plates that read
made you decide to write a sequel to the first Cool
Cat, and how have the character and her world evolved since then?
And if you don't mind me asking, what took you so long to write another
book about her?
I’d always intended writing a sequel to Cool
Cat and to go on and make it a series; Cat’s world is one that I
enjoy escaping into. In Cool
Cat 2, Cat has evolved in that she’s even bolder and more daring
and reckless; her world has become more insane and has expanded in the
sense that in Cool Cat she was
merely rescuing her country from dark forces whereas in Cool
Cat 2 she’s saving the entire planet. There are several reasons
why it took so long to complete the sequel to Cool
Cat. Firstly, I’m a very slow writer! Second, during a prolonged
spell of writer’s block, other writing and research projects intervened.
Then, in late 2011/early 2012, I had a mental breakdown owing to pressure
of work (as a freelance copy-editor and proof-reader in law publishing)
and was hospitalised for five months. When I came out of hospital I
focused for some time on writing poetry about that whole experience which
is now up on my Facebook page. At that stage, Cool Cat 2 was only
part completed and it took me a while before I was sufficiently recovered
to return to it.
Quite obviously, one of the inspirations
for Cool Cat 2: Hell on Route 666
were pulp magazines from yesteryear - but how closely do you remain to
these when it comes to the actual dreaming up of your storyline let alone
the wording of your novel?
I discovered the dubious
delights of those lurid 60’s/70’s “pulp” magazines, with titles
like Man’s Story, way back in my formative years (I was 15 in
1970). But it was really the “trash fiction” novels that inspired the Cool
Cat books, especially a series written by Rod Gray that featured Eve
Drum: The Lady From L.U.S.T. (League of Undercover Spies and Terrorists).
He wrote the first one in 1967 and the series went on well into double
figures. I’ve managed to find some of them on ebay. I wish I had just a
little bit of his productivity! As for my storylines and writing style,
I’ve tried to be as authentic as possible by getting into a mindset
where I’m writing as if I’m actually in the 1970’s. At least with
some elements of the story-telling; neither I nor Cat subscribe to the
frankly right-wing and/or racist attitudes that often prevail in the
vintage pulp/trash fiction.
Also, you dedicated Cool
Cat 2: Hell on Route 666 to filmmakers Russ Meyer and Roger Corman
[Roger Corman bio - click here]
- which I think is very fitting, but could you at all still elaborate on
their influence on your work?
Ah yes, now you’re talking! The movies are my main inspiration; and
in your excellent reviews of Cool Cat
Cat 2 you rightly state that my writing style is very cinematic. I
made the dedication to Meyer and Corman because they’re the big names,
but in truth, my debt is owed to the entire “exploitation” and “blaxploitation”
genres. You only need look at my cast of characters to see where I’m
coming from: Cat herself; “Soul Sister” Selena; and the “exotic
Aiko”. We’re talking films like Faster
Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Coffy
and Cleopatra Jones,
Ebony, Ivory & Jade and Savage Sisters. I haven’t seen
those last two, but the posters were all I needed!
Other sources of
inspiration when writing Cool Cat 2: Hell
on Route 666?
To “exploitation” and “blaxploitation” I added the supernatural
and the demonic. So, you could say, all those great classic zombie and
monster movies; the list is endless. I did that partly for pure enjoyment,
because it lets my imagination run riot. But also, plot-wise, it’s
liberating. I read a quote somewhere, that once you introduce the
supernatural into your plot you can make anything happen, anything goes.
Music seems to play a big role for
Cat in Cool Cat 2: Hell on Route 666
- so what would her playlist consist of (if there already were
"playlists" back in the 1970s)?
Right on! Cat couldn’t live without her music. She expresses her
rebellious nature, and exhibits her “cool”, in her taste in music. Her
“playlist” consists almost entirely of jazz, soul and funk (which of
course provide the iconic soundtrack to the movies that inspired my
books). Some of the giants in those fields are referenced in the Cool
Cat books, e.g. Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Sly and
the Family Stone …. Cat likes to think of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew
as her theme tune! Her taste in music is a personal and social statement,
as her adventures often take her into territories that espouse a very
different and opposing philosophy, be it expressed in easy listening, heavy
metal or country & western.
Now what was a
typical writing session like when bringing Cool
Cat 2: Hell on Route 666 to paper (or the computer screen or
whatever you use)?
I do my writing onscreen, although I
often dash off notes on paper as they occur to me. Being a terribly slow
writer, I’m not one of those who can be disciplined enough to write so
many words a day or for so many hours a day. I need to wait – sometimes
days, sometimes weeks – for the next scene(s) to percolate in my
subconscious; and then one day, it all comes out in a rush, whether it be
one page or fifty. To help stimulate me, I like to write to appropriate
“mood music”, something from Cat’s “playlist”.
What can you tell us about your
overall writing style used in Cool
Cat 2: Hell on Route 666?
My writing style is very
descriptive. I enjoy writing that way because it enables me to escape into
and become immersed in Cat’s world, because it helps me develop the
narrative; and I hope, draws the reader into Cat’s universe. My writing
is very “character-driven”; Cat’s personality and my knowing how she
would respond to any given situation, dictates what happens next. My style
is also very cinematic, with fast cutting from scene to scene and between
events that are often happening parallel to each other. I’d like the
readers to feel that they’re watching a movie as much as reading a book.
That’s how I see it as I’m writing, it’s like I’m shooting a
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Cool
Cat 2: Hell on Route 666?
The critical reception
for both Cool Cat and Cool
Cat 2 has been very gratifying, both from your good self and a
couple of other relevant websites. I must confess that I’ve had minimal
contact with my reading “public” (I assume I have one). However, those
responses that I’ve had are to the effect that the books are a fun read,
and that’s what they’re meant to be. As far as I know, no one has been
offended by them; and my – and Cat’s – stance on matters such as
social injustice and racial prejudice has been appreciated.
Will there ever be a Cool
Cat 3? And/or other future projects you'd like to share?
Cat 3: Born To Be Bad is now with my publishers in the States,
Midnight Marquee and, all being well, will be published this year. By
way of a teaser, this time Cat saves the world from combined social,
political and supernatural evil by recruiting and training a deadly
commando squad of delinquent teenage girls, characters inspired by the
70’s all-girl rock band The Runaways. This time, I’ve injected
elements of the “teen movie” and those “women-behind-bars” flicks
such as The Big Bird Cage
and Big Doll House.
As for future projects, that’s all pretty vague, as usual. Who knows, Cool
Cat 4 may pop into my head at any moment!
novel's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
Want to search for books by
The links below
will take you
just there !!!
I have a Facebook page but I’m still very new to all this social
media stuff and so am still getting to grips with it. I want to separate
my poetry about my mental health journey from my other writing, so I may
well create a special Facebook page for the books.
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I’ve droned on long enough! Just “hi to all you cool cats out
there”; and, as the saying goes, “hope you enjoy reading the books as
much as I enjoy writing them!
for the interview!