Interview with Mayor MacCheese, Feline Companion to Nicole Wolverton

mayormcccheeseNicole Wolverton fears many things, chief amongst them that something lurks in the dark. From ghosts to stalkers, her adult and young adult fiction plays on the mundane and not-so-mundane things that frighten us all. Her debut novel, The Trajectory of Dreams, is an adult psychological thriller from Bitingduck Press. Her short stories and flash fiction have appeared in Black Heart MagazineThe Molotov Cocktail, and Penduline, among others (see a full listing of publications here).

Nicole headshotWhen Nicole isn’t writing, you can find her on the Schuylkill River paddling with the Philadelphia Flying Phoenix women’s dragon boat team or digging around in her gardens. She is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Farm to Philly, a website focused on eating locally grown foods and sustainable living. Wolverton has been featured for her work with Farm to Philly in GRID Magazine, Slashfood, Philly Homegrown, and various other food-related websites. She offers freelance editing and writing services.

She attends Temple University and earned a certificate in grantwriting from The Grantsmanship Center. She is represented by Michelle Witte of Mansion Street Literary Management.

1.    How do you prefer to be addressed? Can I call you Cheesy, or do you prefer Your Honor?

Your Honor is acceptable. Nicole and her husband are allowed to call me Mayor, but the rest of the riff-raff –a bumbling dog and a maddeningly irritating cat–are not to address me directly.

Nicole 022.       How long has Nicole been working on The Trajectory of Dreams?

That woman is single-minded; she’s always got her head bent over that infernal laptop computer. Not that I would ever lower myself to type, but I’ve often thought about head-butting her out out of the way and writing my own manifesto. But this isn’t about me. It should be, but it isn’t. You asked about this book of Nicole’s. She wrote the first draft in a few months and spent another several months tweaking and editing. After Bitingduck Press made an offer on the novel, she worked on it even more with the editor. It angered me, I tell you–Nicole has fingernails that make for a nice scratching post, but she’s notoriously hard to distract when she’s working.

3.       Has she changed as a cat-caretaker in that time?

Cat caretaker? Excuse my scoffing, but Nicole is not my care-taker. She and her husband are the help. I allow them to live with me, bring me food, change my water, and change out the litter in my toilet. Her husband mostly does the menial labor for me, and Nicole is more for my entertainment. As I said, she does shirk her responsibilities while she’s writing, which is often. However, her husband is amusing, and the food is quite good.

4.       When she writes, how do you help her? Do you peep over the screen or drape your body over the keyboard?

When Nicole has been a good employee (her belly rubs are divine), I assist her writing process by nestling next to her leg. The contact with my genius gives her a boost. She’s not very smart, you know?

5.       How many other felines are in the house? What are their jobs?

Ah. The topic of other cats comes around again. Yes, there is a black and brown tortoiseshell cat, three years my junior. Smithers. He’s so common. Unable to groom himself correctly. Over-enthusiastic about everything. Very young. I offered myself as a mentor, but he thinks he knows it all. I can’t just let him run around unkempt, though, so I like to hold him down and condition his fur. Of course, it’s a thankless job. That’s what I get for giving to the less fortunate. His job? I consider him the house jester.

6.       Are you aware that you were the inspiration for the cat, Nike, in the novel?

Yes. Who do you think gave Nicole the idea? She’s not creative enough to dream that up herself.

7.       Do you see similarities between yourself and Nike?

Don’t be silly. I’m royalty, for Pete’s sake. This Nike is in league with a human, which is beneath someone of my stature.

8.       Do you see similarities between Lela (the main character in The Trajectory of Dreams) and Nicole?

She does like poetry and reading, but those are the only similarities I see. Lela White is much more practical. I daresay I’d probably like Lela more than I like Nicole. Well, if Lela has fingernails.

9.       Why do you think Lela named her cat Nike?

Surely you’re familiar with the myth of Nike. She was the Greek goddess of strength and victory, and Lela White considers Nike one of her many good luck charms. It’s also a not-very-clever inside joke on Nicole’s part: her name is derived from Nike.

10.   Lela listens to Nike and even heeds his advice. Do you advise Nicole?

Communicate with the help? I don’t think so. The only thing Nicole is smart enough to understand is when I want more food. I shouldn’t complain about her so vehemently–she’s been quite a good pet for the last eight years.

11.   What’s a Nystagmus?

I do believe that’s an eye problem. One of my cousin’s let an optometrist live with him for a time.

12.   Is sleep important to you?

Of course. I can’t function without a solid twenty-three hours of sleep each day.

13.   Is Nicole a good sleeper?

Most of the time. She needs her strength and rest to see to my needs, but sometimes she goes to bed and just stares at the ceiling. From what I can tell she’s either in a fugue state or thinking quite hard. It’s difficult to tell with her.

14.   Does she ever take you to book signings?

I’m much too busy to get involved with her petty business. However, I have rubbed all over her supply of pens and bookmarks to warn off other animals. Good help is hard to find, and I want others to know she’s spoken for.

15.   Has she ever taken you out in the dragon boat?

I’m strictly housebound. I don’t suffer from agoraphobia, you understand. It’s just that I have such tender feet. If I had any interest in investigation the out-of-doors, I’d have Nicole carry me. But the dragon boat, as I understand it, glides over water. I’m afraid I can’t appreciate that sort of thing. I enjoy playing in the bath tub, but too much water is undignified.

16.   How about skydiving?

And speaking of undignified. I’ve seen videos of people skydiving, and they look so silly. I will admit that catching birds might be amusing in that manner. Still, I have no interest, and Nicole must sense my apathy.

17.   Does she at least let you putter in the garden with her?

As I said, I’m not keen on leaving the house. I do watch her from the dining room window, though. God knows someone has to supervise her.

18.   Have you ever met a biting duck?

I have not. I’d have the rogue arrested if I did.

19.   What’s Nicole working on next?

She’s been working on some tweaks to a manuscript at her agent’s behest. To be quite honest, I haven’t any notion what the story is about, but I’ve seen the Pinterest board. It’s involves creepy horses and nuns, the seashore, black birds, and ghosts. It doesn’t look at all like something I’d be interested in. Now add in a mouse, perhaps some catnip…

20.   Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

I really wouldn’t know. I don’t concern myself in your silly human matters. I must go; it’s time for my nap.

Nicole 01

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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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