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Interview: Jamie Winters

This is a somewhat whimsical interview of an author with several types of work out there.

Jamie Winters is a cat. You would think a cat can’t be an author, but that’s where you would be wrong.

Looks like a cat to me.

When Winter the cat realized his human pretty much sucked at hunting, he decided to take things into his own hands. He turned his name into something much more dignified, figured out how to make keyboards work for tiny kitten paws, and then started using his extraordinary intelligence (at least, for a cat) to start writing books.

When Jamie isn’t writing, you can probably find him at the window, staring at a bird.

DP- How did you decide to write in your genre?

JW- I first started writing poetry because it’s hard to use a keyboard with paws. Fewer words meant less time trying to retype everything. All sorts of authors recommend speech-to-text technology, but that ends up being difficult when it comes out as “Meow, meowmeow meooooow, meow. Meow meow.” I’ve been slowly improving my skill with a keyboard, however, and I’m finally starting to write and release some of my longer stories.

DP- What’s the hardest thing about writing for you?

JW- Aside from the paws and meowing? Probably getting into the right human’s mindset. Humans think very differently from how I do. It was very surprising to realize just how little most humans care about tuna. Tuna! Even with my poetry, I find myself often talking to my human to try and understand some of how his brain works so I can write in a way that humans will actually understand. Humans and cats do have a lot in common, though. They may not be as passionate as I am about tuna, but we often agree on the wonders of cheese. Humans and cats both like going outside and smelling the air. We both want to be loved. I’ve learned that writing is mostly about accessing that spark of life that flows through everything and everyone, cat or human.

DP- What do you do when you’re stuck on a scene?

JW- You know when cats stare at a blank spot on the wall for no good reason? Well, that’s when they’re talking to people humans aren’t able to see for whatever reason. I put most of those people into my work. Sometimes I write a poem from their point of view. Sometimes I just write down what happened in their life and call it a story.

A lot of times, I tend to turn to poetry when I’m stuck. Which is why I suppose I currently have so much poetry to my name. Poems come much more easily to me because I can use them just to describe a fleeting image or thought, while stories are more about expressing the big concepts that take more words to fully describe. Poetry is less about chasing plot and more about chasing words just for the sake of chasing. Which as a cat, I can appreciate.

DP- What does a typical writing day look like for you?

JW- First, I get all my extra energy out by chasing a bottle cap on the floor. Those things have an absolutely delightful skitter when you swat them. Then I realize I’m kind of starving, so I go to my food bowl to get my daily rations. Usually, I realize my human has not put out the daily rations yet, so I then have to go wake him and make sure he does the one job I’ve given him. Then after I’ve eaten, a good poop is in order, and… Well, I forgot that the human has two jobs. By then the human is awake, and it becomes very difficult to type without him doing a weird screaming ritual. So I usually try to convince him to go back to sleep and not worry about me by sitting on his lap, claiming the computer as my own, and trying to get him to play with me. This is usually unsuccessful, so I then go back to sleep to reserve my energy. When my human goes to bed, I then wake up again and write almost non-stop through the night to make up for lost time.

The writer at work.

DP- Is there a common theme or element in your work?

JW- I suppose you could say that my most common element is trying to understand humanity. There’s something fascinating about humans that I can’t quite put my claw on. And darn it all, I seem to have come to love the weird, furless creatures. i’m fine was an attempt to understand why humans hurt so much. Neko Haiku was trying to understand how these practically immortal creatures can love someone so different so deeply. Where the Whispers Go came from my wanting to understand a human’s fear and connection to death. The concept of humanity and what it means to humans fascinates me.

DP- Where can we find your books? Which one should a new reader start with?

JW- Well, today, the best one to start with is probably the free one, The Reluctant Dreamer. Since, you know, it’s free until February 20th, 2019.

Otherwise, it probably depends on what exactly you’re looking for. If you’re someone more interested in reading stories, then you’d want Where the Whispers Go. If you’re someone interested in starting to read more poetry, then Neko Haiku is probably a good place to start. If you’re more experienced with poetry and want a more in-depth look into the form, then you’d probably enjoy Wabi Sabi Haiku.

D.R. Perry lives in Rhode Island and attends Dragon Con each year. She is also a member of the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA).

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