This interview originally appeared March 24, 2012 on Michelle Keener's blog, Escape in Words, http://escapeinwordsreviews.
blogspot.com/. Since so many people have been asking about the fairrier cats lately, I asked Michelle if she wouldn't mind if I re-posted this Q & A here. (The legendary and powerful fairrier cats are central to the plot in the young adult fantasy book, Candlewax, which was just released by Terabyte Press as an ebook and a trade paperback). Thanks, Michelle, for letting me re-post. C.
Q. & A with writer C. Bailey Sims about fairrier cats in Candlewax Posted by Michelle , at 8:25 AM, in Labels: Review and Interview Q. How did you think of the idea of fairrier cats?
A. Spelopokos’s character came first then came the characteristics of the species. He had to have an attitude to play against Catherine’s character (as she was in the beginning of the book—a sheltered, self-centered princess). Spelopokos had to have a commanding presence of his own so as not to be daunted by her nobility. Of course it is easy to be fearless when you are a huge, lethal fairrier cat.
Q. So then, Pokos’s character inspired the whole idea of fairrier cats?
A. Definitely. But Pokos and the other fairrier cats also have some of the best qualities of tigers, lions and other big cats—nobility, fearlessness, courage. And of course they are pretty stealthy too. You have to respect them.
Q. How did you come up with the unique physical attributes of the fairrier cat?
A. That was fun. First came the invisibility, the black-and-white spotted coloring, then the soft neck fur and the changing eyes. And Spelopokos had to be larger than our biggest big cats, because he is, after all, a fairrier cat.
Q. And what about the supernatural qualities of the cats?
A. Many people throughout history and still today believe in the supernatural powers of animal parts, and that’s caused a lot of killing of endangered species, which is quite tragic. In reality, the only power of animal parts is the power we give them in our beliefs. It’s so sad to see wild animals hunted for their horns or their skins or other parts. In Candlewax, the wearer of the fairrer cat skin has a kind of invincibility. Fairrier cats only die if they are killed, and yet a human wearing a fairrier cat skin is almost impossible to kill. That is why the cats have been hunted to the brink of extinction.
Q. Surprisingly, Pokos can talk. Was that important for the story?
A. I once spent a week house sitting a Himalayan cat that was able to swear—actual words you could understand. Ha! I’m not kidding! I’ll never forget how cool that was. I think the cat was mad that the owners had left it. For Candlewax, I just took some of what cats already have and amplified it. Cats are pretty smart and they have some amazing vocalizations. And Pokos is so much more interesting because he can speak.