When I was four, I remember illustrating a book that my six year old brother had written. The book was called, appropriately, “Cat”, because that’s what it was about. As I recall, the only reason my brother was actually involved in this venture was because he, being in Grade One, could print, whereas I had not yet completely mastered this obviously difficult task, even though I could spell. But I had the black crayon, so it was a no brainer that the cat would be black. Even then, I realized that artistic integrity was hugely dependent upon who was stubborn enough to make their point listened to.

 

The book was well received by all who read it. This, of course, was mainly our parents, who had to say something nice. Predictably, my brother got high praise for writing “Cat”, and I, who had always shown a flair for drawing, was shuffled off lightly, since this was, after all, what they expected from me.

 

Having my artistic masterpiece disregarded in such a cavalier way distressed me so much that I took the book and ripped it up. The next book, I sulked, would be all mine. Written and illustrated by me. And thus a life long desire was born.

 

As I grew older, I can remember being torn between drawing and writing. Both of these activities could be accomplished between voracious bouts of reading – I read every single book in my elementary school library by the end of grade two. I then moved on to the public library bookmobile, a unique weekly service provided prior to there actually being a permanent library constructed. I remember sitting patiently on the edge of the sidewalk with my bag jam packed full of last week’s selection of books, waiting for the arrival of the large bus that housed a treasure trove of new reading material.

 

I would read before school, after school, after dinner and usually, despite dire warnings not to, long after I should have been asleep. That’s where the flashlight came in handy. So proficient did I become at this particular subterfuge, that I then took it to new heights. I would also write under the covers, scribbling out my very own book, covering page after page until I ran out of ideas, or fell asleep.

 

This paid off all the way through school, where I consistently received wonderful marks for my writing, as well as my art. I was always terribly shy and found social relationships extremely difficult, especially when it came to high school where being part of a crowd is de rigueur. One of my most uncomfortable moments came in grade ten when, to my horror, my English teacher gave me a mark of 100 on our first term composition exam (that was the good news) and then proceeded to read it aloud to the class (that was the bad news). If I could have melted into the Formica desktop I would have. This did not improve my standing in the social echelons of high school, but it did make me stick out as that weird kid who got better marks than anyone else. In high school, this is not always how you want to be remembered.

 

After escaping from high school with my creativity intact and my foot firmly stuck at the bottom of the popularity scale, I decided that taking a course in Radio and Television Arts would be the way for me to go. I had already dabbled in writing skits and half hour television scripts (which I then, in blind ignorance, and with idealistic enthusiasm, mailed off to the producers in Hollywood, who kindly said, thanks, but no thanks, thereby dashing my hopes of becoming rich and famous and being interviewed by Johnny Carson. How I expected to deal with this opportunity should it become an actuality was beyond me, since I was still quite shy and would no doubt clam up with stage fright anyway).

 

When I married in 1969, my husband Jeff was a struggling cartoonist trying to get his comic strip, “Bubblegummers”, syndicated, no mean feat. I knew all about struggle. My childhood had prepared me well. Holding the damn blankets up so I could write with the other hand is no easy task.

 

I became a co-writer for “Bubblegummers” and we set our sights on its laudable promise, confident that we could overcome the incredible roadblocks of achieving syndication (we did).

 

I had been writing short stories for several years and when I finally submitted one to Miss Chatelaine Magazine in 1977, it was accepted and published forthwith. Not exactly the Tonight Show, but I wasn’t complaining.

 

Meanwhile, the newspaper publishing industry was taking a hit. Many papers were folding, leaving no clients for much of the syndicated columns and other features, and “Bubblegummers” was also a casualty. The Bata Shoe Organization acquired the rights to the name and characters, and we continued on under contract, providing artwork and, in my case, writing scripts and stories for various related books and commercials. Many of these were produced for individual Bata companies, Bata Zimbabwe, Bata Kenya, Bata Singapore and Bata South America.

 

In 1981 I was a winner in the Toronto Star Short Story contest with, “The Dawning of Joanna”, in which the heroine enters a short story contest with her eyes on the stars, hoping to grasp the brass ring, and in the process become rich and famous and, as luck would have it, interviewed by Johnny Carson. Sound familiar?

 

By the late 1980’s, I was doing illustrations for Scholastic Canada (“Princesses Don’t Wear Jeans”, “Dragons Don’t Read Books” by Brenda Bellingham, and cover art for other authors). I was also involved in many fine art exhibitions, as well as travelling to Europe to get new inspiration for my paintings. This would see me through most of the 1990’s. In 1998, I illustrated two more of Brenda’s books for Mondo Publishing in New York, before we launched our latest endeavour, Cyrus Wakefield Incorporated, a company providing historically themed products to museums across North America.

 

By 2007, intrigued by a concept that had been rattling around in my head for several years, I sat down at the computer and began writing the first Catt Russell book. Then I wrote a second. And a third! There are now six in the series, with a seventh in the works (see covers in sidebar.) It sure beats the heck out of writing under the covers.

 

P.S.: I am now on Facebook. I hope you will “Like Me”. You can also email me at carol@carolwakefield.com. Heck, I’ll even write you a letter the old fashioned way. Who knows? It might be worth something someday. How many emails or Facebook posts are appraised on the Antiques Roadshow?

 

 

 

Catt Russell Mysteries features Catt Russell, a very ordinary suburban mom with very unordinary, uncontrollable and unreliable psychic powers. Catt’s experiences in these paranormal mysteries are unusual, to say the least, but don’t include vampires or creatures from another world, unless you count some creepy neighbors.

 

Call them “paranormal light” – a “cozy” mystery with paranormal elements.

 

 

 

Your stories are set in a town called Stockton. Is it a real town? Where is it?

 

There are a number of “Stocktons” that are real, but not this one. It is a typical suburb, with all the things you would expect to find there, so it could be anywhere a reader would like it to be. It’s more fun that way, I think.

 

Most stories, regardless of the genre, seem to describe each and every character in extreme detail. You don’t. Why is that?

 

I like to give the reader free rein to imagine what each character looks like to them. To put themselves into the stories, if you will – or people they know. There are some basics, though. For example, we know that Catt has brown hair that tends to go frizzy at the drop of a hat; that Micky is petite and blonde; that Jilly is also blonde, but not exactly petite (she blames this on not having found the perfect diet. In the meantime, a girl has to eat).

 

How do you see your characters? If Catt Russell Mysteries was to be a television show – or a movie – who would you see playing the parts of recurring characters?

 

If Catt Russell Mysteries were to e thrust into the limelight – television or movie – I would see Catt with frizzy brown hair, possibly bangs; Micky, petite and blonde; Jilly, blonde but not exactly petite. In my mind’s eye, Catt would be played by a younger Karen Allen (Starman, Indiana Jones); Micky would be played by Reese Witherspoon; Jilly would be played by someone blonde, but not exactly petite. I’m not sure who that would be.

 

What's the story behind your latest book?

 

My latest book, “I Dream of Meenie”, is a typical Catt Russell romp with the addition of pseudo film noire / hardboiled detective segments, which introduce the actual mystery and the people involved. These initially occur only when Catt and Art (her wannabe P.I. brother) are asleep, but quickly find their way into the waking hours where, as usual, everything has a tendency to somehow go wrong.

 

What sort of book would you really like to write?

 

I would like to write the sort of book that instantly becomes a best seller and is then thrust into the limelight – television or movie, or, why not both? Who wouldn’t?

And why shouldn’t that be a Catt Russell Mystery? – good wholesome silly fun!

 

How do you feel when you hear from your readers?

 

Hearing from my readers, or reading a review of one of my books, makes me dream big – like television! Or movies!

In the meantime, please continue to send your comments to any television/movie producers you happen to know.

 

Where can people get copies of your books?

 

Print copies are available by e-mailing Inkworks Press at inkworkspress@cyruswakefield.com. The cost is $15.00 plus shipping and VISA and Master Card are accepted. I’ll autograph your copy, too.

 

E-books of most titles are available from: Smashwords Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor Blio, Kobo, Txtr, and Overdrive.

 

The cost varies from $2.99 - $3.49

Unfortunately, I can’t autograph those.