Cat Spydell is the owner and publisher--which means she's also editor, proofreader, chief hand-holder and marketer--of a small press called World Nouveau. Cat's a writer and a mom. She takes in stray and abandoned creatures of all sorts--pigs, goats, (and maybe fairies?)--at Pixie Dust Ranch, where she also lives and works. Cat's a local activist who's taking her activism to the next level in her current bid for a seat on the City Council
Cat is one busy woman.
But we got her to slow down for a few moments to talk about her newest book, The Fairies of Feyllan, which she'll be discussing and signing at the Book Frog on Saturday, August 31st, at 1 p.m.
BF: Why fairies? What was your inspiration to write The Fairies of Feyllan?
CS:I love writing about mysteries I wonder about, like aliens, mermaids, time travel, and Bigfoot. I wrote a movie script about Bigfoot and a book called The Time Traveler’s Apprentice at Hollywood High that started with the premise: What if aliens are just time traveling humans from the future? The idea of writing about fairies started the same way; I wondered about them and as I thought about what they might be like if they were real the answers came to me in the form of a fantasy novel. Many questions about fairies are answered in The Fairies of Feyllan; I address the concept of “brownies”, of the Cottingley fairies, of pixie dust…all those mystical elements are brought up in the book because it was fun to write about those things and think about them.
BF: If you could have a drink with one character from all of literature who would it be? And what character would you cross the street to avoid?
CS: This is a great question! I am the biggest Tolkien fan, so I would have to say that ultimately Gandalf the wizard is the one I would wish to have a drink with, because wizards are endlessly fascinating and you can probably learn a thing or two from talking with them. The one character I would cross the street to avoid would be Dolores Umbridge from the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter. She is one of the most horrible characters with no redeeming qualities. I was so repulsed by her character and her actions when I read The Order of the Phoenix initially.
BF: Does music fuel your writing? If so, what were you listening to (or hearing in your head) as you wrote The Fairies of Feyllan?
CS: Music absolutely fuels my writing, and my soul. I go to hear live music at least once a week and often more. I found myself listening to "The Battle of Evermore" by Led Zeppelin repeatedly while writing the book, which seemed to correlate with parts of my story line. Such as:
Oh war is the common cry, pick up your swords and fly./The sky is filled with good and bad that mortals never know./Oh well, the night is long the beads of time pass slow,/tired eyes on the sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow.
A lot of different kinds of music inspired me while writing The Fairies of Feyllan such as Celtic music.
BF: What book do you wish you had written? What book do you wish you liked more than you did? What book could you simply not finish?
CS: I wish I had written The Lord of the Rings because of the complexity of the world that Tolkien created. The fact that he had a complex language and maps and geography and entire histories created for his book (I consider it one book even though it is sold as a trilogy) is a phenomenal feat. I leaned heavily on the inspiration that Tolkien provides when I wrote The Fairies of Feyllan, so I do have a lot of backstory in the book about the fairies’ genealogy, history, and general origins, but nothing near the amount of vast wealth of addendum material Tolkien provides. Regarding which book I wish I liked better, it would have to be Tom Robbins’ Another Roadside Attraction. Such genius writing! I wish I could write like that. There is a description of a character that says (he) “…has a grin like a beer barrel polka. A ding-dong daddy grin. A Brooklyn Dodger grin. A grin you could wear to a Polish wedding. His smile walks in in woolly socks and suspenders and asks to borrow the funny papers. You could trap rabbits with it…”
And that’s just a partial description of just the character’s smile. Wow, that is some brave writing. But as much as I enjoy the writing and find it to be genius, I can’t follow the plot of that book easily. Regarding which book I simply couldn’t finish, there is one that stands out: Twilight. As an editor I found myself working too hard to read it so I gave up.
BF: Which of your characters do you relate to the most, and--of course--why?
CS: It is hard to say, because all of my characters are a part of me, but the main character Varia is the one I relate to the most. The way that she lets her curiosity and conviction get her into intense situations that she must master describes my life pretty well. She often finds herself in scenarios she didn’t plan, such as allowing a baby dragon to imprint on her which causes her all kinds of trouble, but she just takes life by the horns and manages to turn unfortunate situations to her advantage. She is one of those “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” types and I feel like that is a creed I live by as well. Staying positive and making the best of things is a trait we share.