Monday, October 19, 2015

Mudpie Interviews...Chance the Cat from 9 Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub (w/Review & Giveaway)

Meows from Mudpie!

Today I'm interviewing Chance the Cat, the very special kitty that inspired Wendy Corsi Staub's brand new novel 9 Lives, the first book in the Lily Dale mystery series. Her story is quite amazing and I really think you'll enjoy our little chat.

Make sure you leave a comment for Chance by noon eastern on Friday, October 23rd, because only lucky reader in the US is going to win a hardcover copy of 9 Lives...before the book even hits the shelves on October 27th!

Welcome, Chance! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to live with your human, the famous author Wendy Corsi Staub?

Ah, thank you, I certainly can, and might I add that it’s a true pleasure to be here, Mudpie. I adore being interviewed. What’s that? Oh, yes. Yes, this is my first interview. But I do adore it. Where were we? Oh, yes. Twas a warm summer’s night in the wilds of Westchester County back in aught ’14. As an extraordinarily fetching tabby, though a mere kitten myself, I’d attracted a Tom or two (or ten) and was expecting a litter of six in a matter of days. Seeking a place to lay my weary and strikingly beautiful head, I came upon a humble abode populated by said author, her husband, and their teenaged sons. I purrrrched their back step and vocalized until one of the lads remarked, “That cat reminds me of Chance the Rapper.” I have never seen this indubitably alluring creature of whom he spoke, but I was thereby christened Chance the Cat.

As a mystical feline, I sensed that the human family was in the midst of a trying time and needed me as much as my unborn family and I did them. No, they didn’t have—nor did they want--pets, as the husband is deathly allergic to fur, and they did not welcome me inside. Through the screens, I eavesdropped on their attempts to find my owner. I was confident they would not.

Just as it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t want to be found, It’s impossible to ignore someone who does. They couldn’t resist my purrrrsistent meows, and my efforts were swiftly rewarded with much affection from the humans—even the Large and Sneezy one—and a can of scrumptious tuna. I, in turn, presented them with a swiftly-slaughtered field mouse. They were most impressed by my skill—especially the Large and Sneezy one. I was invited to spend the night on a luxurious bed of towels in their garage, where I soon stealthily dispatched a nocturnal trespasser and bestowed my hosts with its chipmunk carcass in deepest gratitude. “This is the greatest cat ever,” quoth Large and Sneezy. “We have to keep her.”

You are the feline star of Wendy's new book, 9 Lives. Please tell us about it and how you inspired the story.

Unable to immediately adopt me or my impending litter, the humans dispatched me to a feline rescue organization and then a foster home, where I promptly delivered my precious sextet. I proved a most nurturing and selfless teen mom, dutifully nursing and tending to my kittens even when a most dire emergency befell me. In the dead of night, Wendy collected me and my newborns from the foster and rushed us to the veterinary hospital E.R. I’d been stricken by a deadly bacterial infection that without costly emergency surgery would spread to my nursing babies and—I shudder to think of it—swiftly kill us all. Because we were “strays,” the hospital did not expect the human to deem our lives worth saving and suggested that the seven of us be “humanely euthanized.” Our human found the idea as appalling as we did, handed over her credit card, and we were spared. Thus, the human and her family decided that I would join their household furever, with my babies eventually adopted by loving nearby families. My undying and unconditional devotion was a soothing balm in a turbulent time in the Staub household, and Wendy decided she must write about me in order to pay our tremendous veterinary bill.

Are there any ways that the fictional Chance differs from the real Chance?

She, too, is a stunning Mackerel tabby with wide green eyes. Like me, she is enormously pregnant. The fictional human, Bella Jordan is--like my human, Wendy Corsi Staub-- convinced that the so-called “stray” (vile word!) could not have come along at a worse time, yet cannot turn her away. In the book, as in reality, the human believes she is rescuing the cat when in truth, it’s the other way around. The only real difference is that the fictional Chance delivers eight kittens, while my litter numbered only six. And naturally, I am far more bewitchingly beautiful than she. Than most, really.

You were also the inspiration for Wendy's animal advocacy work. We would love to hear all about it!

Searching for a local no-kill shelter the day I turned up on her doorstep, Wendy found that most were already inundated, as it was June--the height of “kitten season.” Until now, she had been unaware that among the vast number of homeless felines in New York City’s Animal Control Center—which is NOT a no-kill shelter--pregnant or nursing cats and kittens are among the most vulnerable, as they’re not eligible for public adoption. Those who aren’t immediately placed on the ACC’s death row quickly catch the “shelter cold” and wind up there anyway—along with dozens of healthy domestic animals being put down daily due to overcrowding. Realizing they could make a difference, Wendy began working with rescue organizations qualified to pull these vulnerable animals from the kill shelter. The Staub family fostered these fragile creatures in their home, nursed them back to health, and helped find adoptive families.

The work is incredibly rewarding, but not for the faint of heart. Sometimes, all a foster can only provide a soft landing spot and kindness at the end of a tragic little life cut short. A sweet reddish-orange kitten Wendy dubbed “Chilly,” as he had been discovered near-frozen on a sidewalk, was rescued from a neighborhood where evil humans lace bowls of cat food with antifreeze. When it became clear he’d been mortally poisoned, Wendy rushed Chilly to the E.R. in the wee hours and cuddled him as the vet put him gently to sleep to end his suffering.

Sometimes, the humans fail to notice that while they are enamored of a new arrival, I, Chance the Cat, am enraged. My arch-nemesis Frenchy came from the kill shelter just before Christmas, triggering what I think of as the Winter of My Discontent. Frenchy, a teen mom as I had been, had been delivered to the kill shelter by her owner, who cited “too many pets” as the reason. Frenchy was accompanied by her only surviving kitten, a month-old tabby named Cha Cha, along with the kitten’s father. Wendy did not reach them in time to save the father, who was killed at the shelter, and Frenchy and Cha Cha had become so ill that their eyes were swollen shut and they had such terrible mouth ulcers they’d been tube fed. They were quarantined in the upstairs bathroom for over a month. I had immediately sensed Frenchy’s vile presence, as she did mine. When they were allowed to join the rest of the household, Cha Cha and I became great friends, but Frenchy and I remained mortal enemies, engaging daily in hissing, spitting skirmishes. In April, a man adopted them together. Though I was relieved to bid good riddance to Frenchy, I missed Cha Cha as I had missed my own kittens when they left.

In May, someone found a tiny orphaned Russian blue kitten, malodorous, ill and crying, beneath the Triborough Bridge and turned him in to the kill shelter. Wendy rushed to Manhattan to pick him up. The new foster was had poor hygiene and was terribly flatulent, much to my disgust. Yet he was so fragile and so starved for affection that my human braved the stench, carrying him around warmly zipped into the front of her sweatshirt, with his little head poking out beneath her chin. She named him Chapter--Li’l Chap, or Chappy for short. One day, I awakened from a nap to find him nestled against my stomach. I overlooked the stench and gave him a much-needed cuddle and bath. From that day on, I adopted this delightful boy as my own. I groomed him until he learned to groom himself. I cradle him when he sleeps. We kitten-wrestle daily and romp like ponies until I’ve had enough, at which point he’s learned to heed a well-timed swat and hiss. The humans decided that he is, like me, meant to be with them forever, and have adopted him. I am lonely no more.

Cat to cat, do you have any favorite treats, toys, or napping spots?

Bereft when the last of my litter, Lizzie, was adopted last fall, I roamed the house for several days crying and searching for her until I stumbled upon a small pink fuzzy screencleaner puff on my human’s desk. I carried it around the house dangling from my mouth as I had my kittens. To this day, I groom it, converse with it, and sleep with it cuddled against my stomach like a kitten. My preferred napping purrrrch is at the foot of the humans’ bed where the large, sneezy human would ordinarily put his feet. As I will not allow his feet to disturb or displace me, he has learned to arrange himself diagonally. Occasionally, as a subtle reminder who is in charge, I enjoy sleeping on his head.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming adventures in the Lily Dale mystery series?

In Book One, NINE LIVES, we meet my fictional human, Bella Jordan, the widowed young mother of a little boy named Max. In addition to her husband, Bella has just lost her teaching job and her home in the New York suburbs. She and Max are preparing for a cross-country drive to stay with Millicent, her stuffy mother-in-law, when they discover a strikingly beautiful, pregnant mackerel tabby on their doorstep. (Sound familiar?) Max, whose grief therapist suggested a pet might help him to heal, begs to keep the cat, but Bella knows that Millicent—or Maleficent, as she calls her—won’t welcome a furry houseguest.

Off they go—until, 400 miles into the trip, an identical pregnant mackerel tabby literally turns up in their path, calmly sitting in the middle of the highway. Max is convinced it’s the same cat, but Bella knows that’s impossible…isn’t it? She and Max take her to a nearby vet, who identifies her as Chance the Cat, whose owner, Leona Gatto, runs a guest house a few miles away in a quaint lakeside village called Lily Dale, New York. What Bella doesn’t know, as she detours to deliver Chance home, is that Lily Dale, founded in the nineteenth century as the birthplace of American spiritualism, is populated entirely by psychic mediums who claim they can contact the dead. Nor is she aware that Leona Gatto recently died in an accidental drowning—or was it?

The inn needs a keeper, the cat and her impending brood need a caregiver, and Bella needs a job and a roof over Max’s head—preferably not Maleficent’s. They settle in for the summer, surrounded by wonderfully wacky neighbors who attempt to solve Leona’s murder using their psychic skills and channeling the victim herself. But it’s skeptical Bella, the stranger in this strange land, whose logic picks up on clues these so-called clairvoyants haven’t seen…perhaps unwittingly aided by a noble and mysterious cat named Chance.

Book Two, coming in 2016, is entitled SOMETHING BURIED, SOMETHING BLUE. The plot revisits the same cast of characters and revolves around a destination wedding in the Dale.


From the publisher: In this warm and witty series debut from New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub, a widowed young mom plans a fresh start in Chicago--but instead finds her way to a quirky lakeside village that just happens to be populated by mediums.

When reluctant road trippers Bella Jordan and her son Max detour to Lily Dale, New York, they're planning to deliver a lost cat to its home and then move on, searching for one of their own. But the footloose feline's owner Leona Gatto has unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind a pregnant pet without a mistress, a busy inn without a keeper--and a lovable circle of neighbors who chat with dead people.

After agreeing to help out temporarily, sensible Bella doesn't need psychic gifts to figure out that a houseful of tourists and a litter of kittens lie in her immediate future--or that Leona was murdered. It's up to her to solve the case so that she and Max can leave town, but their new home--like Leona's killer--might just lurk where she least expects it.

If you've been searching for the perfect Halloween book, look no further than 9 Lives. 

Bella Jordan is an unemployed widow who has made the difficult decision to pack up her beloved home and move with her young son Max to Chicago to live with her disapproving and judgmental mother-in-law, who she refers to as Maleficent. Thanks to car trouble, a storm, and a very pregnant cat, they are forced to make a pit stop in Lily Dale, New York. At the vet's office they find out who the kitty's owner is and plan to return her, only to discover Leona Gatto is dead, apparently the victim of a tragic accident. Leona owned a B&B, Valley View Manor, and Bella agrees to temporarily stay in town to manage the place. As Bella, and especially Max, befriend the quirky mediums that inhabit Lily Dale, it soon becomes apparent that Leona's death was no accident and a killer is at large. Bella solves the case while also taking on the care of Chance the Cat and her kittens.

While this could easily be a stand-alone novel, I am just thrilled to see that it's going to be a series. I had no idea that Lily Dale is a real place, and the town (and Valley View Manor) end up being characters themselves. I greatly enjoyed the mystery and getting to meet a great cast of unique characters, particularly the enchanting Chance the Cat.


Jeanetta said...

Thank you Mudpie for introducing me to a new author. I have added the book to my TBR list.

Unknown said...

It looks interesting; not familiar with this author. Thanks for the chance :)
jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

Lisa said...

Thanks Mudpie for introducing me to another great sounding series. I have added the book to my list to check out. Thanks for the chance to win.

Unknown said...

Mudpie you are doing a wonderful job interviewing your fellow felines. I've heard of Lily Dale and the enchantment that is present there. Thanks again for the interview and a chance to win this book.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! Thanks, Melissa and Mudpie. Now, I so want to read Nine Lives. patucker54 (at aol dot com)

Fur Everywhere said...

Sounds like a great book!

Karen B said...

Sounds like a great new cozy series by a wonderful author!

Elaine Robberson said...

I love cats, so I know I would love this series. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

Unknown said...

This book sounds incredible Mudpie. Thank you for the chance to win and review. You are a great interviewer ❤️đź‘»

Unknown said...

As usual, Wendy has caught my attention/curiosity with her new mystery series about Chance and Lily Dale, Mudpie. Your interview with Chance was a colossal tease as what's to come in NINE LIVES--- Can't wait to read it!!!

Unknown said...

I love everything that Wendy Corsi Staub/Wendy Markham has written ad I would love to read this book that begins her new series!!

Pam Curchin said...

I adore Wendy's books!! I inhaled the Lily Dale series which was written for teens even though I'm an adult. I can't wait to revisit that quaint and quirky town. As a public librarian I highly recommend Wendy's books to my suspense loving patrons. Would love to meet her in person at BEA someday soon!

traveler said...

What a wonderful giveaway and feature. Wendy's novels are captivating and special. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

This new series would be a treasure and fascinating. Thanks for this great giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Mickie said...

I would LOVE to win this exciting book!
I hope my CHANCES are good; I adore WCS!!
Thanks Mudpie! ��

Unknown said...

Aw, this is wonderful, Mudpie and Melissa. Thanks for interviewing Chance! Much love from Chance's Human

Anonymous said...

Mudpie: what a great interview!
Chance: You are one lucky lady to have found the right doorstep. I'm glad that you found a place in the human's hearts-especially the large and sneezy one!
I just finished reading your book yesterday and I must say that it is purrrrrrfect!!! Your human writes the BEST books!!!

bookwomen said...

Thanks for the wonderful interview. I went cuddled my human a little harder as I too appeared on her doorstep. This sounds like a great book we can read together.

gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

holdenj said...

What a fun interview! The new series sounds fantastic! Thanks for the info and chance to win!

Cleopawtra said...

Sounds like another great book to add to my TBR list. Haven't heard of this author will have to see what other books she's written to add to the above list. Thanks for the chance to win a copy: rose_red2(at)cinci(dot)rr(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I really want to read this book now and great interview yenastone at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

Gweat fotos. And such a pawsum and detailed review Mudpie. Have a gweat day.

Luv ya'

Dezi and Lexi

Robin said...

This sounds like a really wonderful book! It's great that Chance and her babies were rescued. There are way too many kitties out there without homes.
-Purrs from your friends at

Unknown said...

I am excited to read this new series. Wendy is a brilliant writer and this was an amazing interview. Loved learning more about Chance! Thanks for the "chance" to win a copy of this book.

Unknown said...

I am excited to read this new series. Wendy is a brilliant writer and this was an amazing interview. Loved learning more about Chance! Thanks for the "chance" to win a copy of this book.

pilch92 said...

Excellent interview. The author sounds like a wonderful person and the book sounds good too.

Unknown said...

Yet another marvelous interview.
What a great story, both historically and fictionally.
libbydodd at comcast dot net

Unknown said...

Sounds like a wonderful book.

Mama Cat said...

Great interview, Mudpie! and Chance, too! Chance, what a blessing and joy you have become to your Mom and to all the pets she now helps! I can't wait to read more about you in the new book! jeaniedannheim (at) ymail (dot) com

Unknown said...

Thank you for a chance to win a copy of nine lives. Chance you have become a beautiful kitty. I have been following you and your mom on FB since you arrived in her life. I also am a big fan of Lily Dale and have visited there. I hope I get chosen to win this book. My name is Audrey and email is.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the interview and this wonderful chance to win a beautiful story. The real Chance looks like my angel General. Thank you Mudpie for the beautiful interview and thank you Wendy for saving Chance and giving her a forever home.Thank you Melissa for this wonderful opportunity!

Squeedunk Cats and Z-Girl said...

Mudpie, you are a pawsome interviewer! I learned so much reading this post. This is a wonderful true story that inspired what promises to be a great read. Thank you for featuring it!

kim hansen said...

Nice interview. Cool story.