Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thank you, L&S Reviews (four stars!)

Long and Short Reviews says the nicest things about "When Bunnies Go Bad": "Clea Simon does an excellent job of mixing humor, romance, and mystery into one coherent and exciting tale. The humans are engaging and fun, but the non-human characters are even more so..." Read the full review here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Yay! "AS DARK AS MY FUR" is on!

Just got the official notice from my editor, who calls this sequel to "The Ninth Life" "an atmospheric, suspenseful and absorbing read, and ...richly detailed and imagined." Look for it in Dec. 2016 in the UK/April 2017 in the US.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Thank you, News Gazette

"Simon's mysteries are lighthearted with a fair amount of humor in the mix. Her animal characters are as three-dimensional as the human characters. She makes Pru's ability believable and realistic in how she interacts with the animals. She draws you in with the first paragraph and keeps you engaged to the final word." Wow, thank you so much! Read the full review here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Crimefest!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while – I've been at Crimefest, a WONDERFUL conference in Bristol, England! I got to be on a cozy panel moderated by James ("Granchester") Runcie, along with such wonderful (and not necessarily cozy) authors as L.C. Tyler, Cathy Ace, and Christopher Fowler. And I moderated a panel on writing crime with some big-time thriller authors, including David Marks, Leigh Russell, Tara Moore (who has just made the switch from more romantic books), and the incomparable R.M. Cartmel (whose books are gentle police procedurals set in the Burgundy region of France). Too much to go into here, and I'm sorry I didn't take my laptop - but it was a blast.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Librarians - and cat people - love Dulcie!

Librarians are already reviewing my upcoming INTO THE GREY, a feline-filled Dulcie Schwartz academic mystery. Here's what Rosemary Smith of Cayocosta said: "This is a wonderful series for cat lovers. I introduced my sister (proud owner of 7 cats) and she can’t get enough." There's more, but I don't want to give it away (read more in NetGalley or in her blog "For The Love of Books.")

Here's the link to pre-order your copy now.

Friday, May 13, 2016

"I hate cats..."

But this reviewer was won over anyway by the "authentic voice" of this "wonderful reading experience."

Read more here.

"THE NINTH LIFE by Clea Simon 5 stars.

A tragic, violent world joyfully realised.

I hate cats. I read this book in order to write a review but I may struggle because my notes are useless; Blackie is such an authentic voice I found myself dragged in by the first paragraph. He dug his claws in from the start and didn't let go. His thoughts on survival, body language, humans in general are fascinating, sad and funny in equal measure.

The style, the environment and the general feel of the start of this book put me in mind of the homeless network Sherlock Holmes uses. I found myself picturing Care's mysterious 'old man' as an ageing Sherlock taking on an unusual protégé. Care herself is a delightfully well realised hero. The esteem Blackie holds her in is well deserved, his observation that her comprehension matches his eyesight is telling. The highest of compliments from a cat surely?

The story itself is well paced, moving along just fast enough to keep you from getting impatient but not so fast you miss clues or feel rushed to a conclusion. The mystery of who Blackie is and why 3 men tried to murder him is so subtly managed that at several points I totally forgot about it, until I couldn't forget. Until his memories become part of the same mystery Care is investigating ...

Overall the world woven by the words of this sensible cat create such an immersive sense of tragic melancholy, intrigue and constant fear that I'm far too involved in the story to analyse the style and content. I can only see this 'world of casual violence and retribution' that these children are forced to inhabit. My reviewing abilities are fully compromised by becoming so thoroughly engrossed in a wonderful reading experience. I love the joy of discovering a new writer, a new voice to bring me into a world I would never otherwise know.
Lucy

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dulce returns with INTO THE GREY

Don't forget Dulcie! The next Dulcie Schwartz feline/academic mystery, INTO THE GREY, is up for pre-order now on Amazon – and for all you reviewers/book bloggers out there, it's up for review on NetGalley, too! And isn't this a beautiful cover?

Monday, May 9, 2016

The writer at rest

This is what my office looked like this morning. On Friday, at around 9:30 p.m., I sent in the manuscript for "As Dark As My Fur," the second Blackie and Care mystery. I should explain, this is normal for me. After the first round of revisions, after I've input the changes from my agent and my readers, after I've checked that all the notes on those little stickies ("the gun on the table in Act 1...") are incorporated, I do one last read through on paper. And just in case I want to check back on something, I don't recycle. I let the pages fall to the floor. Until I hit send.



And then I clean up.

Monday, April 18, 2016

First (literary) loves

I write cozies filled with cats and other animals, so perhaps it’s no surprise that I return again and again to my favorite childhood books for inspiration. These are five books that continue to enchant and inspire me:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, of course ... what else? Read more here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Thank you, Literary Feline!

"There is nothing light or cozy about 'The Ninth Life,'" writes long-time book blogger The Literary Feline. "Care is in real danger, mixing with drug dealers, thieves and some other very seedy people. Blackie is very much a cat"

This thoughtful, intelligent review goes on to discuss the plusses – and one drawback – of this new project, concluding, "The ending was particularly intense with a promise of more to come. 'The Ninth Life' is a unique mystery and I am definitely curious to see where the Clea Simon goes with the characters next." You can read the full review here.

Friday, April 8, 2016

"If you have ever wondered what your pets are thinking, you need to read this series..."

"Simon spins a great mystery full of humor to temper the murder. The twists and turns keep readers guessing until the final pages." So says Writeknit. Read more here.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pets and pet peeves, too

"I always told stories. Took a while before I realized people would pay to read them ..."
Today I chatted with the folks at "Straight from the Author's Mouth."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The glamorous life of a writer

Not! Or, as I explain at "The Writer's Life" today, it takes a lot of continuous slogging to make the magic happen:

When people find out my 20th mystery came out this spring they often ask: how do I do it? The answer is simple: If you do the work, the magic happens.

A shorter answer is that I consider writing my job. I make myself work on my books five days a week. When I’m in the process of drafting a new manuscript, as I am now, that means sitting down at my desk and not getting up until I produce a certain pre-determined number of words. These days, that’s usually 1,200 words, though when my deadline is tight, it can go up. And as I near the end of a manuscript, it usually climbs on its own until I have to be dragged away to eat dinner or sleep.

Read more here.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wow, thank you, Kings River Life!

"Pru’s wry voice, sharp intelligence, and empathy for animals guarantee that this elaborately plotted mystery will entertain with its good humor and compellingly quirky characters." so says librarian Cynthia Chow, reviewing When Bunnies Go Bad for Kings River Life magazine.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

We need to talk...

Found out I didn't win one of the coveted slots on the Malice-Go-Round, a kind of speed-dating for authors and readers that introduces 42 lucky authors to 200 (20 tables of ten) readers at the Malice Domestic mystery conference coming up in April. I'm on the waitlist, but I can't imagine anyone dropping out! What this means is that I'll be making an extra effort to meet readers at other times - before panels*, over coffee, at the bar... Please, if you're going to be at Malice Domestic introduce yourself! I will do the same! (Malice Domestic is a cozy mystery convention held in Bethesda, MD, each spring. This year, it's April 29-May 1.)

* I am on a panel! I'll be joining Carole Nelson Douglas, Sparkle Abbey, Linda O. Johnston, and Kay Finch on Saturday to discuss "The Paws that Detects: Four-legged Sidekicks" on Saturday, April 30, 3-3:50. Come ask us a question!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cat Fight! (Crimespree lets me sound off)

Crimespree magazine let me sound off about the recent "cat fiction controversy" "... That Journal writer needed a story, and a story needs a conflict to make it bump along. But since this piece has run, I’ve realized that the question should not have been “should cats talk?” but “can an author make a talking cat credible?” Want to read more? Click here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

See you at Crimefest!

Are you going to Crimefest? This will be my first year at this international conference, which takes place in Bristol, England, May 19-22, and I'm looking forward to hearing some of the greatest minds in European crime fiction! I'm also honored to be on one panel, "Do You Think You're Cosy?" (note the UK spelling of "cozy"!) with the great Cathy Ace, Christopher Fowler, and L.C. Tyler (James Runcie is moderating). I'll also be a participating moderator on "A Life of Crime: What's the Appeal of Crime Writing?" – lots of room to play with that one! – with panelists Richard Cartmel, David Mark, Leigh Russell, and Tara Moore. Maybe I'll see you there?

Monday, March 14, 2016

See you at Malice!

Do you know about Malice Domestic? If not, you should – this is the big annual fan conference for those of us who love cozy (aka, traditional) mysteries. Held every spring in Bethesda, MD, I go as often as I can – and I'll be there this year. Plus, the panel assignments are out and I've got a winner! I'll be on a panel on Saturday, 3-3:50 p.m., with the great Carole Nelson Douglas, Linda O. Johnston, Sparkle Abbey (both members of that team), and moderator Kay Finch. The title? "The 'Paws' That Detects: Animal Sidekicks." What could be better!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

"BUNNIES" is "a terrific addition to the series." Thank you!

Mutt Cafe has nothing but love for "When Bunnies Go Bad." Start here... "Clea Simon’s books are truly exemplary mysteries that skillfully capture the intricate relationship shared by humans and animals. ... The Pru Marlowe novels only get better with time and When Bunnies Go Bad is a terrific addition to the series." Read the rest here. Wow, thank you so much!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Paella with small cat

No, not what you're thinking! This is a chicken and seafood take on the Spanish classic, but served in the company of a feline, thanks to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, a great food and cozies blog.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Can you guess the real story? (I'm on NPR!)

And here it is: the clip of me on NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," the "bluff the listener" segment:

"Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me"

... is a wonderful NPR quiz show. And you should listen to it this weekend (or online at WBUR) Can't say more now... just trust me on this, and tune in!

Friday, March 4, 2016

"You can't help but fall in love with this brave cat."

Thrilled to field this review from the Conscious Cat, which called "The Ninth Life" "absolutely wonderful," saying, "What made this book for me was the absolutely wonderful way in which Clea narrates the book in Blackie’s voice. Writing in a cat’s voice is challenging,and few writers do it well. Clea does it masterfully. Blackie is all cat..." Read more here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Do you trust me?

Do you trust me to take you someplace dark? That's the question I ask over at the Conscious Cat today.

"We authors ask a lot of our readers. When we invite you into our worlds, we ask you to suspend disbelief. To accept that cats can talk, and that ordinary people can solve the craziest crimes. We ask you to give up time out with your family and friends – as well as TV and Facebook – to spend time with an old-fashioned and slow-paced pleasure – a book. We ask that you listen to us, that you let us tell you a story. Most important, we ask that you trust us...." (Read more here.)

The cat has his say...

"Do not let my appearance deceive you. I am not like other cats..."
(Read more as Blackie from "The Ninth Life" makes a guest appearance on Dru's Book Musings here.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Happy pub day RAVE for "WHEN BUNNIES GO BAD"

"Every chapter of this new mystery is jammed with surprises and suspense," says Kingdom Books of my new Pru Marlowe pet noir, WHEN BUNNIES GO BAD. Happy pub day to me!

Pub day RAVE for "The Ninth Life"

"Ready for some shocks to the heart and mind?" That's how Kingdom Books begins this RAVE for "The Ninth Life," with its "stunning finale." Happy pub day to me!

Happy pub day - I'M IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL!!


Honest! Here I am, talking about talking (and non-talking) cats, along with a bunch of other wonderful cat writers (and Cat Writers Association members):

When it comes to cats and speech, “people tend to feel very strongly about it,” says Clea Simon, whose first cat mystery, “Mew is for Murder,” featured silent kitties. Once, during a mystery conference panel, “I got up there and said, ‘Cats that speak, they’re an abomination.’ ”

Then she turned tail and wrote a book about a talking ghost cat.

“I realized at some point that we all talk to our pets,” says Ms. Simon, 54, of Somerville, Mass. “And most of us imagine the other side of the dialogue.”

Later note: If you can't read the story on the WSJ site, you can read it here on my website.

Pub day!

Kind of like a book birthday and I'm having twins! Both "When Bunnies Go Bad" and and "The Ninth Life" are officially out today! Let's celebrate! Both are in hardcover and ebooks, with trade paperbacks to follow. (My full bibliography is here.)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Why we write...

Why did I leave the cozy world behind? Was there some particular spur that made me write "The Ninth Life"?

I answer those questions and more as I guest blog over at Lois Winston's blog today for her Book Club Friday. I'll be answering questions all weekend!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

"This remarkable duo, a cat and the girl he has claimed..."

"Simon, a writer who loves cats, creates an appealing, unusual narrator in Blackie," writes librarian/blogger Lesa Holstine of "The Ninth Life." You can read more here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Going dark...

"Write what you know" is good advice. But I prefer "write what you want to understand." Which is how I got to my upcoming dark, new cat mystery, "The Ninth Life." As I explain today, in a guest post at Lesa's Book Critiques. {And she says I have a "terrific narrator"!)

Monday, February 22, 2016

"The series just keeps getting better and better."

In case you'd forgotten, I have a new Pru Marlowe pet noir out next week as well, with "When Bunnies Go Bad."

"This series just keeps getting better and better," says the Bristol Public Library! Thank you! Read the full review here.

The Queen loves "The Ninth Life"

"Plenty of twists and turns," says Queen of all Reads. "I loved it."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

"You're not alone..."

Don’t we all feel alone sometimes? Like we’re the only ones in the world, abandoned by everyone? And at such times, isn’t a nice cuddly cat the best companion?

That’s the idea I started with when I began to write “The Ninth Life,” my new mystery and the first in my Blackie and Care series for Severn House. Only I realized early on that my story, about a girl named Care and the big, black cat who adopts her, wouldn’t be your usual cozy....

Read more in today's guest blog over at Cozy Up with Kathy – and comment to enter the giveaway for a copy of "The Ninth Life."

Saturday, February 20, 2016

"I wanted a 'Team Blackie and Care' T-shirt..."

Another lovely blog review, this time from LuAnn Braley at Back Porchervations.

"Now, my adult 'logical' mind wants to say that 'a book from a cat's point of view' ... eh ... how good can it be? Pretty dang good resounds as the answer! ..." Read more here.