Thursday, December 11, 2014

Truffles Interviews...Liza from Tail's from Cyprus by Kirk Bertram

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Today I'm interviewing an amazing kitty who has pretty much traveled the world! She's written about her adventures in a brand new book, Tail's from Cyprus, and I have TWO copies to give away. 

(Oh, and please disregard the embarrassing picture that Mommy attached at the bottom of the post.)

Welcome, Liza! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions today. Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a world-travelling cat?

I was born on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus in the spring of 2001. Being a malnourished, starving, flea-bitten calico kitten whose mother and siblings one by one disappeared, It didn’t feel like I had much of a future. Although I tried to find them, I was so small and fearful of the outside world that I didn't feel comfortable going far from my home - under a dumpster at the Larnica Marina. Fortunately, a very sweet mother and her daughter fell in love with me and nursed me back to health. I found this family's 45' sailboat much more comfortable than my dumpster, I was not at all prepared for a life of sailing however. Fortunately, they took very good care of me; plus the other cat onboard (Snowy) taught me a great deal about living and surviving at sea. Becoming a world-traveler was really a "luck of the draw", because I was not aware that I was joining a family who was in their final year of a five-year circumnavigation. I have to admit that it was a lot to take in as a kitten, but I grew to enjoy all the ports and marinas that we visited.

Have you ever been scared during any of your travels? I hate leaving the house even to go to the vet!

Funny you should ask this question, because I also hate going to the Vet. I associate every car trip with that and just go crazy. However, one of my travel experiences will stick with me forever:

Crossing the Atlantic was a very scary time and I was slightly unaware of all the danger that was going on around me. The family proved to be very resourceful throughout this 21-day passage and they were three people that simply wouldn't take no for an answer - failure was simply not an option plus they wanted to get back to their land home. When the auto-pilot stopped working I thought we would turn back, but that didn't happen. If that wasn't bad enough, some of the sails and rigging broke and/or failed... each time I questioned why were we doing this ALONE! To make matters worse, the weather was horrible a lot of the time which translated to large and rough seas. Whenever Snowy and I were tethered to the boat, we braced for the very worse! I know this was only 21 days, but even we cats thought it was much longer!

What are some of your favorite and least favorite places that you've visited?

I actually have two favorites that come to mind...for different reasons. The first had to be the time we spent in Staniel Cay, Bahamas because the family took us with them to the beach; it's where I realized I was truly a "beach cat!" It is like having the world’s largest litter box at your disposal. Plus, it's where I learned that pigs can actually swim!

I also treasured our month in San Benadetto Po, Italy, because the weather there was so pleasant and our host helped me refine my Italian. I was able to occasionally sneak out onto the little downtown piazza and pretend to be one of the local “gattos”. To me the food smelled better than it tasted, but I would never turn down a gelato. My preference was and still is - boiled fish heads!

My least favorite place had to be Madison, Wisconsin, while I lived with Linz as she completed her degree at the University of Wisconsin. It seemed to snow there all the time and I simple hate the cold.

How did you feel about the good ol' USA once you arrived here?

I loved it when we arrived in Clearwater, Florida, although the family dynamics changed a great deal. While we were sailing, we were all very close and I enjoyed all the attention. When we became "dirt-dwellers", everyone seemed to go their own way. Snowy kept telling me that this life on land was what is "normal" for cats and so I adapted the best I could. Thinking back on it now, I enjoyed the feel of the fresh ocean air rushing through my fur, BUT I certainly don't miss the rough weather and seas.

You've had special relationships with many humans *and* other animals. Can you tell us about some of these special friendships?

First and foremost is my Emmy (secretly I refer to her as mom), because she really has been my mom in many cases. She has always been so patient with me and takes such good care of me, even if I go crazy during my baths...she keeps giving me them when she thinks they are needed. On the outside I wish she would stop, but on the inside, I like that she looks after me as she does. I also like that she plays the piano and sings...such a sweet voice!

Next, would have to be Linz. She and I grew very close while we were sailing and I was her best friend. After we got to the states, Linz seemed preoccupied with her studies, activities, and other friends. Some days we would hardly see one another and it took me awhile to get used to not being as close to as I once was.

The most interesting animal would have to be Snowy. I owe my being able to read, to Snowy and that has opened up so much more of the world to me. She had her own set of issues (fear of abandonment and all), but she always had my back while we were sailing and we became very close. After we returned to Florida and Linz was off doing her thing, Snowy and I became even closer. She is a great cat and I haven't stopped missing her after we were separated in the divorce.

My other buddy was Grady - the first and only male cat that I have ever known. He provided some company, but he lacked the same sense of adventure that Snowy and I had. He was also scared of his own shadow which could really be annoying at times. Some of this may have been inherited from his mother who was feral. Still, he provided some amount of company while Linz and Drew were gone with their daily routines.

What is life like for you today?

My life today is amazing. I live with my Emmy and her husband Kirk. We are only 4 blocks from the beach and I have not one, but two second floor balconies that I can enjoy. They are connected by a tin roof and so when the mood suits me, I can walk over to the other balcony. It's great to lay out and enjoy the sun and smell the salty ocean reminds me of my sailing days, without the rocking and rolling, of course! There is one big difference though...since co-authoring my book, it seems that a lot more people try to spot me up on my balconies; I apparently have become something of a celebrity in Carolina Beach. Emmy and Kirk take very good care of me, I have wet food and some days I even get tuna...but I still miss my boiled fish heads. I especially enjoy Kirk's lap in the evening - it's so warm and I curl-up and find myself napping almost immediately. Yes, life is very good for me these days!


Blurb: It was in September 1997 when Emmy, the "Captain," and their 10-year-old daughter, Linz left Florida to escape the rat race of life for a 5-year sail around the world. Four years into their trip they sought shelter at a marina in Larnaca, Cyprus after a harrowing trip through the Red Sea. It was here, under a dumpster they found me, a tiny flea-covered, calico kitten whose mother and siblings had disappeared. Emmy and Linz convinced the Captain to let me stay on board where they nursed me back to health and gave me a new home on their 45-foot sailboat. I quickly learned that there was another cat onboard who was none too happy with my presence. She eventually accepted me and showed me how to survive living on a boat at sea. She even taught me to read! Crossing the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean was quite the challenge, but not nearly as much as my next twelve years on land. I ended up living in Florida for a couple of years before going to college at the University of Wisconsin with Linz. After returning to Florida, the family experienced a painful divorce which led me to the coast of North Carolina where I lived in many places with Linz and Emmy. Eventually, Linz married and I moved to Richmond, VA, where I shared a home with another cat and a Rhodesian Ridgeback (AKA "Lion Hunter"). Just when I thought life could not get more complicated, it was announced that a baby was going to be added to the mix. I was rescued back to North Carolina by Emmy and her new husband, Kirk, where I finally found my "pie in the sky!" While searching for a quite place to take a nap one day in Emmy's attic, I ran across an open box filled with paper. Curiosity got the best of me and I was thrilled to find that these were Emmy's e-mails that she sent daily from her ham radio during her five years at sea and were preciously saved by her father. After showing these to Kirk, he remarked at the amazing life I had led, especially for a cat. He encouraged me to tell my story and with his help, this book is what resulted.

Tortie Shorties
Book reviews that are short and sweet...just like Truffles!

While most adventure stories featuring pets involve dogs, Tail's from Cyprus is the memoir of an extraordinary calico cat named Liza. Starting life under a dumpster in the seaport city of Larnaca, she is finally rescued by a family, the Captain, his wife Emmy, and their daughter, Linz, who are traveling around the world on their 45-foot sailboat. The first half of the book centers on Liza's life on the boat and her adventures with Snowball, her new family's other cat, who has a very bad habit of jumping ship at various ports. (The reason why she does this, when finally revealed, is heartbreaking.)

When the grueling trip across the Atlantic is finally completed, Liza ends up in Florida but her life is far from settled. Her travels continue, first with Linz to college in Wisconsin, then back to Florida, and finally to North Carolina following the Captain and Emmy's divorce. When Linz marries she takes Liza to Richmond, Virginia, but once a baby is on the way everyone decides it would be best for Liza to make her forever home with Emmy and her new husband Kirk, the author of this book. I found it interesting that Kirk was not a cat person and initially opposed Liza's arrival, but she soon wins him over and begins dictating this book to him.

One of the (many) great things about this book is that it ends on a happy note! Liza is still alive and flourishing. Anyone who enjoys animal stories will adore this book. Liza's amazing life will leave you in awe.

I have photographic evidence of how much Truffles loved the book too. I had it laying the bed where one morning I found her biting on the binding!

Thanks to the author, I have TWO copies of Tail's from Cyprus to give away! (Not the Truffles-chewed copy, I promise!) Winners will be chosen at noon eastern on Wednesday, December 17th. (Don't forget to include your email address, and US entries only, please.)


Karen B said...

I don't sail but my oldest son does, and he's a cat lover, too. This would be a wonderful book for him - after I finish reading it!

Anonymous said...

This does sound like an interesting story, Truffles & Melissa!

Robin Coxon said...

I haven't read anything by this author yet. Truffles your interview has perked my interest to want to do so.

Unknown said...

I think the tooth marks are rather like a signed edition!
libbydodd at comcast dot ne

Mary Holshouser said...

Glue must have tasted good. Bear always has to smell all of the books I bring in from the library.
She do it several times a day. Our furry friends are so much fun.

Athena Cat Goddess Wise Kitty said...

Sounds like a great book. Loved the interview!

Purrs xx
Athena and Marie

Barbara T. said...

Sounds entertaining. Bobbipad at

pilch92 said...

Great interview as always Truffles.

Anonymous said...

Pawsum innewview Truffles.

Luv ya'

Dezi and Lexi

bookwomen said...

Great interview. Glad Liza has found a home.

gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

petite said...

A most wonderful interview and a very special and delightful giveaway. thanks for this feature. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Enjoyed this lovely interview and fascinating giveaway. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Anita Yancey said...

I love that the story is told by the cat. It sounds like an amusing read. Thanks for having the giveaway.