Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hamlet and ROCCO interview.....Ali Brandon and T. C. Lotempio!!!!!!!

Two great felines have books debuting today!  Hamlet, from the Black Cat Bookshop series fifth adventure, PLOT BOILER,

and Nick for which moi is the inspiration, in the second Nick and Nora mystery, CLAWS FOR ALARM.

Today, Hamlet is my guest interviewer! He will interview the Human, whilst I interview Ms. Ali Brandon (aka award winning author Diane L S. Stuckart). So without further ado....I interview Ms. Brandon!

Hello, Ali.  How did you and Hamlet get together? Hi Rocco. Nice chatting with you again. As you may know, with PLOT BOILER we are at Book #5 in the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series, so Hamlet and I have been together for awhile. Our original editor needed a bookstore cat for a new series, and Hamlet applied for the job. I rather suspect that the folks at Berkley were looking for a, well, less snarky feline to fill the role. You know, the kind of cat that curls up in baskets to sleep and then runs and greets the customers with a friendly meow. But, I thought we should go in another direction, and so I convinced them that Hamlet was right for the part.
Tell us about Hamlet’s latest adventure, out today! Hamlet’s caretaker, bookstore owner Darla Pettistone, is trying to help all the neighborhood  shop owners beat the summer doldrums by putting together a Fourth of July block party and inviting the public. In the meantime, Darla’s new coffee bar has caught the not-so-nice attention of the local coffee shop owner, who thinks she’s trying to poach his business. As for Hamlet, he suspects something’s not kosher with the man’s coffee. And, of course, Darla stumbles over a dead body there at the block party, which really sets off the fireworks.
Does Hamlet receive any fan mail?  Do you? Hamlet and I both receive the occasional nice card in the mail, but these days most readers contact us via my website or else via Hamlet’s Facebook page: Facebook.com/blackcatbookshopmysteries . Hamlet is on Facebook quite often posting comments and pictures, and he very much enjoys talking with the “clever humans” who chat back with him.
What’s the most challenging part about writing for Hamlet? How often does he dictate the storyline? Because Hamlet is not a talking cat in our books (though he does plenty of yakking on his page) I have to make sure that he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. After all, he is the primary sleuth! He doesn’t dictate the storyline but he “paws” it along with his book snagging clues. I work very hard at keeping him a regular, non-magical cat, and I think the readers appreciate that.
What are some of your other favorite cat mysteries? Of course, I enjoy the Nick and Nora mysteries! And the classics like the Midnight Louie books and the Cat Who books (with Hamlet being something of a homage to KoKo and Yum Yum). I’ve also enjoyed the Sunny and Shadow books, and several other of the newer cat series (but there’s just never enough time to read them all!).
Describe a typical writing day for you? Actually, writing is my second job. I get home from the day job around 6:30 pm, and after getting all the critters (four cats and four dogs) fed, and then me and the hubby fed, and email at least looked at, it’s about 8 pm. So, depending on where I am in my writing schedule, I’ll write from 8 pm until I conk out. I also spend my lunch hour writing when I’m on deadline. If I’m at the very deadest of my deadline timeframe, I’ve been known to work straight through the night, grab an hour or so of sleep, and then head off to the day job again. That part is not fun. But once I’ve turned in my book, I plop myself in front of the TV every night for a few weeks so my brain can decompress.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?  If I didn’t write at night, I’d be doing fun crafty things. I like making feather fascinators, and now I’m wanting to move into refinishing/upcycling small furniture pieces.
What can you tell us, if anything, about any of Hamlet’s future adventures? Book # 6, working title BY BOOK OR BY CROOK, has some interesting changes for all our characters. Hamlet, of course, remains his usual self, but he may find himself with a new feline friend.
Describe Hamlet in one word. Imperiously Elegant. Oops, that’s two words. I think the word that Hamlet would prefer is, Brilliant.
Thanks Ali!  and now my good friend HAMLET will interview the Human, also known as T. C. Lotempio!

Greetings, Human.  Or would you prefer I called you TC?  Greetings back to you, Hamlet!  TC or Toni is fine.

Well, let's get started then.  How did you happen to make the acquaintance of this fine furry fellow, ROCCO?   My beautiful calico that I'd had for 11 years, Phyllis Rose, had passed and I'd adopted Maxx.  I felt he needed a companion, so I went on PetFinder and saw baby ROCCO's photo. He happened to be at the Clifton Animal Shelter, so I went for a look and took Maxx along to make sure they got along.  They seemed to (although Maxx did more hiding under the table than anything else) so I brought ROCCO  home. From the moment he stepped out of the carrier and raised his paw, he's been 'The Boss" - a feline Bruce Springsteen.

As it should be, of course!  So tell us how Rocco started in the blogging business.   I'd just acquired my agent and I wanted to set up a blog, but I wanted it to be a little different.  ROCCO just seemed to scream STAR.  After about a month I got the idea to start interviewing authors, and I believe Janet Evonavich was our first.  It just seemed to escalate from there. ROCCO is a natural born interviewer (take note, Jimmy Fallon and Barbara Walters!)

How did you get the idea to pattern ROCCO after the original Nick Charles, aka the Thin Man? The man who was my supervisor at my day job at the time suggested I stop writing about vampires and write something about my cat.  When I went home The Thin Man was on tv, and ROCCO leapt onto my lap.  Then I got an idea - what if Nick Charles, or a detective similar to him, came back as a cat?  And it was born from that (and changed by Berkley before the publication, LOL)

In the original version, Nick the cat was the reincarnation of Nick Atkins, and he talked, but talking is a no-no so....Nick became a world-class Scrabble speller.

Tell us a bit about Nick's second adventure, CLAWS FOR ALARM!  Nora has every intention of investigating Nick Atkins' strange disappearance, but unfortunately it takes a back seat when her sister Lacey is arrested for the murder of her art professor, who wasn't a very nice man :)  During the course of the investigation, Nora reconnects with a blast from her past in the form of homicide detective Leroy Samms.
Are there more adventures planned for Nick and Nora?  Oh, absolutely. As long as people read them and Berkley continues to buy them, Nick will keep on spelling out clues with his Scrabble tiles. 

What other cat mysteries do you enjoy?  Careful now....  Why, Hamlet's of course!!!!!!!!!  Also the Cat in the Stacks, the Cat Who's, Mrs. Murphy....there are too many to mention! We love 'em all.

What's a typical writing day like for you and ROCCO?  I have a full time job, so most of my writing is done after work and on the weekends. I crank up the CD player and sit down with my outline with ROCCO at my feet. After about an hour of ROCCO chewing the cable wires and wanting to play fetch, we finally get something done LOL.  I like to try and write at least a chapter whenever I sit down, but most days its only a page or two.

If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing? - I've always been fascinated by the criminal justice system, so maybe a profiler for the FBI.
Describe ROCCO in one word!  I've got two...BOSS or KING!

TC and Ali will give away a copy of CLAWS FOR ALARM and PLOT BOILER to two lucky commenters. One will win TC's and one will win Ali's.  Just leave a comment stating which book you would like and your email address. 
Contest ends midnight, November 7.


  1. Great interviews, Hamlet and ROCCO! Congrats on our new releases!

  2. These are great interviews, and thanks for hosting a great giveaway, but to choose one book for as a possible prize winner is difficult. I closed my eyes and "eenie, meenie, minie, mo!" PLOT BOILER...? CLAWS FOR ALARM...? Oh, darn, can I choose being surprised? Yes? Great. No, gotta choose? Claws for Alarm. kat8762@aol.com

  3. Oh dear.
    I have to choose? No, you will have to choose for me.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  4. I know Toni's book will be a great book, but I'm not familiar with Ali Brandon so I'll choose her book, Plot Boiler. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy. robeader53@yahoo.com

  5. These are both great Cat Cozies. I would like to be surprised too.

    gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

  6. Claws For Alarm please. My email is: norbert8bubba@yahoo.com

  7. I would love to win either one! patucker54 (at aol dot com)

  8. I love Ali Brandon's series, and I love to start TC's series.


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