If someone were to ask me if I was a cat person or a dog person judging by my present day life, I would say a dog person only because I have three – a beautiful 5 pound (dripping wet) Maltese named Cody (aka Cooter Dooter), a deaf but oh-so-loving cocker spaniel Max and a beautiful miniature Sheltie named Skylar. However, if you look into my past, you would most definitely say I was a cat person. Prior to owning cats, I had to give up two loving dogs which I’ve never gotten over. I never wanted pets after that because it was too heart-breaking but a calico cat named Beebe came into my life, followed by a few more. And a few more. So I understand the love for them first-hand and that’s why it’s my pleasure to interview Deborah Barnes, author of the new nonfiction book,The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey: A Journey of Extraordinarily Ordinary(ZZP Publishing LLC).
I received a copy for review which will be posted at my blog, Literarily Speaking, on December 5 so I do hope you’ll check it out. I want to say that this is the most beautiful book I have ever seen. Lots of illustrations inside which are superb but the cover is what really stood out. It is much pleasure to bring you Deborah Barnes and her thoughts on writing and publishing her new book, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey: A Journey of Extraordinary Ordinary.
Thanks for this interview, Deborah! I’m reading The Chronicles of Zee and Zoey and absolutely love it! The illustrations are absolutely captivating and I’d like to talk about that but can you tell us all about Zee and Zoey, the main stars of your book first?
Deborah: Zee is my lovable, male Maine Coon who I got as a kitten as a housewarming gift for my fiancé Dan who was moving in with me. He was going through a rough spot in his life and this breed was of particular significance to him. I knew by getting him this kitten, that his heart would begin to heal as we started our new life together. Zoey, our free spirited female Bengal, was a result of Zee’s need for a playmate that could keep up with his active personality. It was always a dream of mine to have a Bengal, but the timing was never right (it is no secret that I am a tad leopard obsessive – I was Peg Bundy long before she was). We had an ailing elder cat (Kit) in the household and it just would not have been appropriate to bring a kitten with such athletic energy into the house. When Kit passed on at the old age of 18, it finally made sense to bring this miniature inspired leopard into the household. For Zee, it was love at first sight. For Zoey, the feeling was mutual, but she was a bit more coy about her feelings…
In what ways do Zee and Zoey fight for your attention and who wins?
Deborah:Zee and Zoey actually don’t have to fight for my attention. They seem to have different times for their own personal needs for interaction with me, so it is not an issue. The fighting for attention is more with the senior cats, Jazz and Harley. They are quite possessive of me and it can get a bit aggressive and huffy at times as they vie for a piece of the human pie!
Who did the gorgeous artwork?
Deborah: All of the artwork in the book was done by my dear friend and designer, Madalina Iordache-Levay of Bright Pink Studio. I came up with the individual design concepts for each of the chapters and she was able to exquisitely translate what my mind envisioned so perfectly on paper. My concept was quite simple – I wanted to take an ordinary occurrence – reading a book, and turn it into an extraordinary experience by infusing the entire book with quirky and charming artwork as well as stunning photographs that really complimented the storyline.
They say that animals are drawn into people with a blue light around them. Do you believe you have that blue light?
Deborah: Absolutely. There has not been a time in my life that I have not been surrounded by animals. They sense I am a kindred spirit and therefore they trust and respect me.
I absolutely am an animal lover having had lots of cats and now dogs. Could you see yourself living without your feline friends?
Deborah: That will never happen. In all honesty, if I were told I could have a million dollars if I gave up my cats, I would walk away from the money in a split second without any hesitation whatsoever.
Do you believe Zee and Zoey are soul mates and if so, in what ways do they show this?
Deborah:While Zee and Zoey’s relationship has toned down somewhat since they have raised a family and gotten older, they still love one another very much and seek out each other’s company. When they were younger, the love and level of communication they had with one another was astounding and they would nap together with their paws wrapped around each other after a long day of play and adventure. While Zoey was pregnant, Zee stayed by her side the whole time as if to make certain she was safe. After the kittens were a bit older and Zoey was in heat again, Zee felt her pain as if it were his own – when she would howl in pain, he would rush to her side and it always seemed to soothe and calm her down.
Besides Zee and Zoey, what other cats are mentioned in your book?
Deborah: Well, I’ve had A LOT of cats in my life, so, many are mentioned, both past and present. But, the majority of the story is about the current four-legged roommates who I share my house with – Jazz, our eldest cat who is a male Ragdoll, Harley who is a female Tortie, Zee, Zoey, and three of the four kittens – Mia, Peanut, and Rolz. The fourth kitten, Zeuss, resides with a friend of ours in Boston.
You self-published, am I correct? Can you tell us the steps you took to get your book into the market?
Deborah: I took the task of every aspect there is to getting this book to market. Once I wrote the book and had an idea of the design layout, I struggled for many months deciding what route to take to get the book to market. In today’s world, the choices are almost limitless and it can be overwhelming – traditional publishing, print on demand, boutique publishers, electronic publishing and so on. For me, because the design element was so critical to the story I wanted to share (there are literally hundreds of stunning full color photographs and page after page of custom designed artwork), I ultimately decided I needed complete control of the book and decided to open my own publishing company, ZZP Publishing LLC. I really wanted the book to be completely unique to anything on the market – basically a book with the keepsake quality of a coffee table book, but with a warm, humorous, and conversational story. Once I made that decision, it was an effort of true love, passion, dedication, and commitment. Social networking is critical and I have spent the past year developing a very strong fan base for the Zee/Zoey “brand.” I have a blog, Zee & Zoey’s Chronicle Connection that has been growing steadily for over a year, and I just launched an incredible new website for Zee & Zoey’s book that not only allows people to purchase the book, but really expands the whole Zee/Zoey experience with an expansive photo and video gallery.
If you had to pick out the funniest part of the whole book, what would that be?
Deborah: Well, truthfully, the whole book is written with a large dose of honesty and humor, so it is really hard to pick one part. But, if I must, I think it would be Chapter 9, “The Consequences of Love.” By nature, I am an extremely calm and level headed person. I have had two children of my own and I have also witnessed the birth of endless kittens, puppies, and assorted animal life. So, when Zoey was pregnant, I was shocked at how insane I became. I lost all sense of reality and was consumed with fear over one of the most natural parts of life that has been going on for thousands of years without my assistance or worrying – giving birth. This quote sums up my neurosis quite succinctly, “I had literally taken the most ordinary of events in nature and blown it to such epic, extraordinary proportions, that you would have thought Zoey was the Blessed Virgin Mary herself.”
Do you have any public appearances coming up?
Deborah: Because I work a full-time job, right now I do not have any public appearances coming up. The majority of my publicity is being generated via virtual tours on pet related and review type blogs. I must say, however, that Ellen DeGeneres was a significant reason the book was written – as a matter of fact, a whole chapter is devoted to it (Chapter 22, “Of Godwinks, Ellen, & Afghans”). If anyone could get me on her show so I could thank her in person, I would greatly appreciate that!
If you had some words of wisdom for cat lovers out there, what would that be?
Deborah:To love, respect, and cherish them for the gifts that they are. Sure, sometimes they might ruin a couch or two, but the loyalty and companionship they give us, far outweighs any material items in our life. Just be patient with them and don’t give up if they seem to have “behavioral” issues. More times than not, if you look at something from the perspective of a cat, you can resolve a negative behavior issue and turn it into a positive.
Thanks so much for the interview, Deborah. Do you have any final words?
Deborah: My final words would be the overall message of the book – to embrace the ordinary in life as cats do, and dare to make it extraordinary.
Watch at YouTube at http://youtu.be/QcwFvrsXWSU
Giveaways, Contests & Chats!
To celebrate the release of Deborah Barnes new book, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey, she is offering a giveaway at Goodreads! The contest starts on November 15 and ends on December 15. To win a copy, visit her contest information at Goodreads by clicking here!
Deborah will also be attending Pump Up Your Book’s 1st Annual Holiday Extravaganza Facebook Party on December 16. More than 50 books, gifts and cash awards will be given away including a paperback copy of The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey! Details will be posted at Pump Up Your Book on Monday, November 14.
Visit Deborah Barnes official virtual book tour page here to find out more about this talented author!