Darlene Arden, CABC – The Complete Cat’s Meow

t is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My newest book, April 5th release, is The Complete Cat’s Meow. As an animal lover and certified animal behavior consultant, I knew that there was a good deal of misinformation about cats bandied about yet few owners really understand cats, how to raise them train them, etc. I decided to burst some myths and provide good information so that cats can lead better lives and the human-animal bond can be strengthened.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m a Massachusetts native. I was an actress/singer/dancer occasional choreographer. I did a little writing then, mainly script doctoring but turned to writing full-time. I’ve done celebrity profiles, travel writing, I’ve written about women’s issues and more.

When I began writing about pets I had really found my niche. I can make life better for those who can’t speak for themselves. I’ve attended (and spoken at) veterinary conferences, etc. I became a certified animal behavior consultant (cats and dogs, certified by IAABC, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants), teach part of the Dog Training and Management Certificate Program at Kutztown (PA) University. I’ve been writing since I was a child. It seems it was something I could always do. I began getting paid to do it when I was in my 20’s.

What inspired you to write this book?

Having written at least 5 dog books, I’ve wanted to write a cat book for at least a dozen years. Unfortunately, publishers would invariably say that cat people don’t buy cat books. I’m determined to prove them wrong. I believe this is the definitive book for cat owners. Everything they need is in one, easy-to-read book.

How did you choose the title?

Having written several books before I’m afraid I had become somewhat jaded about the business of books. It had come down to four different titles. I asked the acquisitions editor to show the titles to the Marketing Department and have them choose the one they thought they could sell. I learned a long time ago not to get married to my words and that includes titles.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

The main obstacle was getting a publisher to publish a cat book. It took me twelve years. Of course, I didn’t write the book (just a proposal) until I had a contract so all of the information is the latest available. The only way I could overcome the resistance was perseverance. I refused to give up the idea of writing a cat book.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I fell into writing. It’s a long, boring story that begins and ends with having a mid-life crisis in my 20s. I gave up my career with no idea of where I would go and what I would do.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Not really. I do a lot of the writing in my mind before I commit it to the computer. Other times I just sit down and it flows. My work also involves a great deal of research so I’m constantly exploring. That, however, is not a ritual; it’s work.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

I write non-fiction. The only time I had to “change names to protect the guilty” was for most of the anecdotes in my dog behavior book, “Rover, Get Off Her Leg!”

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

Every book is a learning experience. I do a lot of research so I learn new information all the time, along with sharing what I already know. I think the main thing I learned from this particular book is that sometimes you just can’t take “no” for an answer, you can’t give up. I didn’t drive anyone crazy but every so often I’d pitch the cat book. I finally heard Yes.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I had relied on the person who promised to do a foreword for the book. In the end that person was too busy and only did a blurb but didn’t tell me in time to get someone else to do a Foreword. That was a “first” for me so I wasn’t prepared with a back-up person. Meanwhile, the publisher was depending on citing the Foreword on the cover and wouldn’t allow me to get more blurbs. I should have gotten them anyway. We really would have had room for them, at least on a page inside the book.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I’m a voracious reader. I read non-fiction for work but read a good many mysteries and thrillers. On rare occasion I will read a romance novel if it’s written by a friend. I am also a huge Terry Pratchett fan. I don’t know how to categorize him. His books aren’t really Science Fiction but seem to be more Satire than Science. I think he’s brilliant and even though I’ve never met him, I was pained to hear of his diagnosis of Lewy body Dementia. Hopefully, he will have more productive years ahead before he has to stop writing.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m working on a proposal but who knows whether or not anything will sell in this economy? I just keep going, never counting on anything so I can be happily surprised when I have a contract to sign.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Don’t fall in love with what you write, a particular phrase, It may just be the thing that won’t make it into print. But if you think something is important, be prepared to politely fight for it.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Cat owners and potential cat owners, people who work or volunteer in shelters, people who foster cats in their home. Even those who think they know it all will learn something from this book.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?