Author interview with C. L. Francisco of ‘The Gospel According to Yeshua’s Cat, A Cat Out of Egypt, The Cats of Rekem, Cat Born to the Purple’

Author Interview with C. L. Francisco

 

All 4 e-books in the “Yeshua’s Cats” series are being discounted this week! Each is a different story taken from the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the people around him—all told by a family of cats descended from an Egyptian temple cat from the temple of Bast at Bubastis. “Gospel According to Yeshua’s Cat” is the original Cat book, telling the story of Jesus of Nazareth from the point of view of a cat who travels with him under his mantle. “A Cat Out of Egypt” is a rousing adventure of the child Yeshua’s escape from Egypt with the help of a Nabataean caravaneer, a temple priestess, and a cat. “The Cats of Rekem” rejoins the characters from “Egypt” in the midst of Yeshua’s ministry, and introduces the Apostle Paul via the Damascus wall. “Cat Born to the Purple” is the first of a two-volume story of the life of Lydia, the seller of purple, from the book of Acts. The 5th book, “Yeshua’s Loom,” due out in the fall, will complete the story.

 

 

The cats are back! And C.L. Francisco, author of these feline fables is with me today to chat about Yeshua’s Cats. C.L. Francisco, welcome Back! It’s wonderful that you’ve returned for some gossip about these wise cats and this time I have a fresh set of questions to play with. We’ll kick it off with, where did the idea to explore this period through the eyes of cats come from?

Check out http://clfrancisco.com/the-emergence-of-yeshuas-cat/ for a serious answer to this question!

 

 

Wow, it’s got pictures of some pretty special looking cats and everything! Thanks for coming so prepared to this question, and I’m sure readers will be greatly served by reading your prepared answer on your site.  As you’ve been so prepared in response to this question, I’ve got a feeling that you’ve also brought these tendencies to your own writing. Was there a large research element to the series to ensure that the lives of these cats were portrayed accurately?

All of my books required huge amounts of research! For instance, for Cat Born to the Purple I had to learn about ancient spinning, weaving and dyeing techniques from the ground up, with no background whatever. Then there was unearthing reliable information on extracting royal purple dye from the murex sea snails . . . and the culture of Phoenicia, particularly Acco, in the 1st C, ships and sailing, merchants and workshops of all kinds . . . you get the idea!

 

 

That sounds like so much fun, and I’d really love to know how they extracted purple from the sea snails. And the culture of Phoenicia. Okay, I’ll just note all of these topics down and then investigate them after we’re done. Thanks for spurring on my next research topics. Was this research one of the largest rewards of working on these tales? Or were you touched by other ideas?

All of the Yeshua’s Cats books have had numerous moments of . . . what shall I call them? Grace? Inspiration? Magic? Whatever it is that flows like a mighty underground river, out of nowhere into words that I often swear I couldn’t have written!

 

 

I think that you should use all three of them. That magic flow is hard to describe, but I’m very glad to hear that you’ve used its flow to produce these tales. How did the characters come to life within this magical graceful flow of words?

Some were written into history, so only their personalities were flexible. Others just swam up from my own depths into in my creative trawling nets. A few have been loosely based on people I’ve known, but not many.

 

 

Did you feel like the personalities of your characters were more informed by the plot, or instead was the plot and the historical settings that drove the character development?

Both! New characters that I’d never imagined are always popping up, and the ones I think I know keep adding new dimensions. Both the characters and the plot are living beings, with minds of their own.

 

 

*Laughs* It’s alive! I imagine when your characters and plot are both living, breathing and ever changing there must be ideas or thoughts that you come across that you just can’t service with enough justice in the current book that you’re writing. Are you currently working on any book projects from some of these ideas?

I’m halfway through the second half the story of Lydia the seller of purple. The working title is Yeshua’s Loom, and it should be out in the fall. I also have a second mystery in the works. The first was This Madness of the Heart (Feb, 2017), and the 2nd is Blood on Holy Ground, due out when I find time to finish it!

 

 

Good luck finding time to get both of these done! What keeps you coming back to add new chapters to both of these series?

It’s what I do. It’s close to being what I am. I’m not how I filled my days before I started writing!

 

 

I’m so glad you’ve moved towards more days were you really get to fill them how you desire. Are dedicating yourself to writing full-time, or are you writing as a side-gig?

Happily, I’m retired! The major battle is writing all I want to write before the inevitable downhill slide starts seriously picking up speed.

 

 

It’s wonderful that you’re happily retired! I went to a 100th birthday party a few weeks ago for someone who would be more than capable of writing a novel so don’t anticipate a downhill slide too early! As you get to spend your time in the pursuit of writing do you find that your creative process is pretty solid? For instance are you a strict planner or do you find the end of your works as you’re writing?

I always have a vague plotline when I start a book, but it’s definitely more tied up in character development and creative aha’s than in planning.

 

 

Is there any music that inspires or supports those creative aha’s?           

Classical music: Baroque and Mozart. No words, nothing modern.

 

 

I can see how those would let those creative thoughts percolate. Do you ever find that there’s days when your ideas just don’t rise up and you’re stuck? How do you get past the stuckness?

So far, I’ve never had it. For me, it’s more writer’s blah, or writer’s disgust! When it’s the blahs, I just keep plugging and come back to it later to give it life. For the disgust, I quickly turn off the computer and walk away, hoping that I’m just in a defeatist mood. I always have more ideas than time to write them down.

 

 

Being restricted to picking the best ideas is a fantastic problem to have! As you have such a wealth of ideas I was hoping that we might be able to borrow a few in the quick fire question round to share around some of thoughts that may motivate others. Let’s start with a simple one; what is your favourite quote?           

TH White, from The Once and Future King: “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

 

 

Never dream of regretting. I’m just going to sit here for a ponder and absorb the gem of learning something new. Which kind of sounds like an excuse to read or write more books! Now, here’s a great thought for a new book, who decides what morality is?

That’s a dissertation, not a quick question!

 

 

*Laughs* I know! It completely is a dissertation question, but I really love that question and I was hoping some intelligent authors might be able to toss up some new ideas to add to my own. Since that one’s a bit too big of a question to answer without half a day, let’s try one that is hopefully a little bit simpler. Where is the line between insanity and creativity?           

In having enough control to shape creative chaos into art

 

 

What is your favourite word?

Wilderness

 

 

If all of the world is a stage, where does the audience sit?

In the trees.

 

 

I hope those trees are in that wilderness. What happens when you get scared half to death twice?

Fear has a limited half-life.

 

 

Now that is a really good point, and explains why you don’t see many people dying of being scared half to death! Now, for our final less philosophical pondering, what is your favourite line from your book that you feel will entice readers to play with the Yeshua’s cat series. What’s your best bet?

“Mari, do you trust me?” “Like a kitten trusts the sweetness of her mother’s milk, son of Earth.” “Do you love me, little mother?” “More than the warmth of the sun.” “Then listen to my voice, Mari, and do as I tell you.”

 

 

 

Aww, thank you for sharing that sweetness and warmth with us today. And thank you for sharing your ideas and insights from your series of wise cats and I look forward to seeing the next installment of the Yesuha’s cat series.

 

 


Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘The Gospel According to Yeshua’s Cat, A Cat Out of Egypt, The Cats of Rekem, Cat Born to the Purple ( ASINs: B00FN9OWHU, B00O78WU9U, B017BXRLI2, B01M0DJOGF )‘.

Want to find out more about C. L. Francisco? Connect here!

Author interview with C. L. Francisco of ‘This Madness of the Heart’

Author Interview with C. L. Francisco

Bad religion can be deadly. So Miranda Lamden, small-town religion professor, discovers in This Madness of the Heart. The dark hollers of Eastern Kentucky offer fertile soil for shady evangelist Jasper Jarboe, new president of Grace and Glory Bible College, as he beguiles the small mining town of Canaan Wells with his snake-oil charm. When Miranda isn’t teaching at Obadiah Durham College, she’s investigating paranormal phenomena—or enjoying a turbulent romantic relationship with backwoods artist Jack Crispen. JJ’s inquisition-style gospel has alienated her long since, but when he announces his plan to transform her forest home into an evangelical Mecca, complete with neon cross and 40-foot Jesus, Miranda girds her loins for war. But JJ isn’t finished: he goes on to launch an attack on her friend and fellow faculty member Djinn Baude with an avalanche of vicious rumors. Not only does he accuse her of demonic communion with the old Voudon witch whose curse killed the college’s founding family, but he also smears her with insinuations of lechery and vice. With JJ’s urging, hate boils over into violence and tragedy, sweeping Miranda up in its flood. One death follows another as a miasma of evil overwhelms the tiny community, and only Miranda can see clearly enough to halt its spread. ‘This Madness of the Heart’ is the first in a new series of Gothic mystery-thrillers featuring Professor Miranda Lamden, whose spiritual gifts have drawn her beyond university walls to explore the mysteries of other world beliefs. Her unique vision brings her into repeated confrontations with evil, where too often she finds herself standing alone between oblivious onlookers and impending disaster.

 

 

With unique visions and impending disaster, I’ve been joined today by the author of ‘This Madness of the Heart’ C.L. Francisco, to delve through some of the impending disasters in this novel. C.L., thanks for coming back to chat with me about your new foray into mystery thrillers. Where did this new adventure start?

‘This Madness of the Heart’ came partly out of my own experience. During the 1980’s and 90’s there was a movement afoot in some American church groups for a minority of power-hungry individuals to take over control of the churches and drown out the voices of everyone who didn’t agree with them. I watched from the sidelines as people’s lives, dreams, and faith were destroyed and too often pockets were lined as well. I originally wrote Madness to get the helpless rage out of my heart, but I let it sit for almost 20 years, and then wrote the rage out of it, leaving it as a fast-paced story about a slimy charlatan in a haunted hollow in Appalachia.

 

 

I understand the pleasure of doing a little rage writing and I’m very hearted to hear that you set it aside to allow the emotions to dissipate before you published. Publishing rage writing is never a good look. To me it sounds like this novel came from a very emotional place in your life, rather than research like your Yeshua’s Cats series. Do you feel that is an accurate statement?

Yes, I usually do huge amounts of research for my Yeshua’s Cats series, but this book took very little: I wrote what I knew.

 

 

Can you tell us a little bit more about what you knew and drew into this tale?

Miranda Lamden is like my professional self in many ways: she’s a professor of religion who specializes in studying obscure spiritual practices, and uses phenomenological techniques in her study; mystical experiences have been a natural part of her life; she loves wild nature and feels more at home there than any other place; she’s a cat person.

 

 

*Laughs* Of course she’s a cat person! Continue.

All those things we have in common. But our personalities and actual life experiences have been different. Miranda is a Virginia blue blood and a career-driven academic . . . my father was a preacher/professor and my mother a homemaker, and I married fairly early and began teaching after my children were born. Miranda publishes academic research; I publish novels. She jettisoned her Southern upbringing early; I’ve been more ambivalent. She rarely guards her tongue; I speak with care. She’s probably a mix of my favorite female detectives, women I’ve taught with, and myself.

 

 

How did the characters other than Miranda unfold?

A couple of the good guys in the book are modeled on real people from my own experience, but the arch-villain JJ is a pastiche of many faces and names, with some fantasy thrown in. Jack Crispen, Miranda’s significant other, was named for my favorite fairy tale hero, King Crispin, in “Bluecrest,” but I suspect much of him comes from my first teenage crush, “Adventures in Paradise’s” Gardner McKay!

 

 

You’ve got a strong mix of characters there. Do you see each of them strongly enough that you could see who would play them if this novel was translated to the screen?

Just for giggles, without worrying about age, or living or dead, here’s who I’d choose

Rev. Jasper Jarboe DD: Jack Nicholson.

Miranda Lamden: Cate Blanchett.

Jack Crispen: Clive Owen.

Viola Ricketts: Maggie Smith.

Djinn: Alfre Woodard.

Sheriff Lyle Embry: Clint Eastwood.

Rev. Elmus Rooksby: Andy Griffith

 

 

I think that you’ve just gone and selected the strongest actors working in the business for your dream cast! Nice job! Other than dreaming of the ultimate dream cast and seeing those actors at work, if only in your mind, what was the most important aspect that you wanted to communicate to the readers?

Madness is my response to greedy and power-hungry “spiritual” predators. It’s admittedly over the top . . . vengeful ghosts don’t play much of a part in most charlatans’ life stories. But I believe that there’s often more than we realize happening beneath the surface where evil is present.

 

 

There’s nothing wrong with over the top! And how can you prove that vengeful ghosts aren’t out there conspiring?  Speaking of conspiring, can you comment on the progress of the rest of the Miranda Lamden series. Or maybe you have some comments to make on works outside of the Miranda series?

I have three Miranda Lamden books written: This Madness of the Heart; Blood on Holy Ground, which is in the editing stages; and The Gorge Runs Red (tentative title), awaiting edits. Other ideas are hovering in the wings. Holy Ground finds Miranda and Jack exploring Native American spirituality, Catholic convent traditions, and prescient dreams while caught up in a savage storm of murder and psychosis. Gorge follows Miranda and a student seminar group to a retreat among the cliffs and arches of Red River Gorge, where sexual obsession and abusive power pit their dark strength against a priest’s faith and the soft coils of Appalachian Granny Magic.

 

 

With all of those ideas you’re going to be busy for quite a while! What keeps pulling you back to your keyboard to tap out another story?

I was one of those little kids who was forever making up stories and telling them to herself and to anyone else who’d listen, even before I was old enough to start school. I remember a kindergarten teacher who took a special interest in my stories and wrote some of them down. But life and growing up took their toll on that free-flowing creativity, and for many years whatever stories came to me I kept to myself. I wrote for English classes, but turned my attention to academic subjects—and art. I don’t think the urge to write really returned until I started journaling during a particularly tough personal time. Those journals eventually grew into (a perfectly dreadful) autobiography, which I am endlessly grateful was never published! But the act of writing it, and the intensity of that creative experience, reminded me of the delight I’d once found in weaving words into story . . . and I was hooked. That was twenty-some years and seven books ago now, and it’s all I can do to tear myself away from my desk when the muse is speaking.

 

 

I’m so glad your reacquainted yourself with your muse. I have a strong feeling that there are many other people who have been separated from their muses by life in general, and I hope that stories like your will inspire them to mend the bridges with their own muses. So, now that you and your muse are now speaking again. How do you find the writing process unfolds for you? Does it whisper the story ending to you before you start writing, or do you have to be patient and see how it unfolds?

Yes. LOL It depends on the book. I’ve done them both ways.

 

 

Is your writing technique also flexible? How does it writing work for you?

I have my own office, with cats, in my home. I sit at my Mac, often with a cat in my lap trying to help, and tap away. I write every available minute for as long as the words flow—and when they stop, I work on the other stuff. But what, you might ask, is “every available minute”? Well, it means after I’ve walked my mile or two and had enough coffee to be conscious . . . but before I start nodding out over the keyboard in mid-afternoon. It’s in between household chores and bills, errands and cat-box cleaning, and time invested with my husband. So, for real? Four – five hours early in the day and two – three in the evening, unless I’m really on a roll, and then everything gets jettisoned, including the husband and the cat boxes.

 

 

*Laughs* Your poor husband and cats! At least they can hang out together when you’re on a roll! Do you find that any music gets you into the writing groove?

Baroque! Telemann, Corelli, Handel, Bach, etc.

 

 

Ooohhh, that’s a nice selection there. I think that I’m going to have to steal your playlists. Once you’ve tapped out the majority of the tale, are you straight into the editing yourself?

I do almost all my own editing, which can be almost as time-consuming as the writing. I probably do at least 10 read-throughs when I edit, the last 2 or 3 out loud, so I can hear the words in my ears.

 

 

Are there annoying things that you are always finding keeps popping up?

I always have to go back through what I write and clean out all the adverbs and academic “qualifiers”!

 

 

Those devilish qualifiers. Other than eliminating those qualifiers, do you have any good tips up your sleeve to share with other keen authors?

Write for the love of it, not for the money. Then you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

I haven’t been disappointed with your wonderful insight today. I’m hoping that we can continue to march along the path away from such displeasures towards our final round quick fire round. Let’s start with revisiting one of our background questions, what is your occupation, and how does it influence your writing?

I’m retired, from teaching and research in religion, so no problem!

 

 

Nope, no problems there. What is your favourite quote?

“The best thing for being sad” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”? T.H. White, The Once and Future King

 

 

Have you ever danced in the rain?

Yes–in the desert!

 

 

Now that is an impressive feat! Are you left or right handed?

I was born left-handed, but “trained” to be right-handed.

 

 

What color socks are you wearing?

Multi-colored cats

 

 

They sound pretty cute. What is your favourite word?

Cat

 

 

*Laughs* As a great cat lover I can understand why that’s your favourite word! And finally, with or without any cat references your choice, what is your favourite quote from ‘This Madness of the Heart’ that you would like to leave our readers with to entice them to pick get entwined in your new mystery series.

This was great fun to write: “His lips were thick and red, repellent in their woman’s softness. His tongue flicked out serpent-like, leaving a sheen of spittle in its wake. An absurd ski-jump nose sloped out from puffy cheeks, overshadowing a too-small chin and incipient jowls. The powerful lights exposed his teased pouf of thinning hair for what it was, chilling me with the unsettling image of a malicious overgrown infant, bald but for its newborn peach-fuzz.”

 

 

Now you don’t often hear about malicious overgrown infants do you? C.L., thanks for chatting with me today. And I hope that we’ve encouraged any readers keen on mysteries to pick up a copy of ‘This Madness of the Heart’.

 

 

Want to find out more about C. L. Francisco? Connect here!

Author interview with C. L. Francisco of ‘The Gospel According to Yeshua’s Cat’

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Mari is a cat living by her claws on the fringes of the Judean desert. Yeshua ben Yosef is a man with healing hands, seeking solitude in the wastes beyond Qumran. Their paths cross when Yeshua drives wild dogs away and rescues the wounded cat, carrying her in his arms to a wadi where he settles to pray. Friendship grows up between them, deepened by Yeshua’s ability to speak with animals. Mari’s observations illumine the road he walks, and when he leaves the wilderness, she rides with him, hidden in a sling beneath his robe. As Yeshua’s words take hold of the hearts of the people, his enemies’ attacks grow venomous. Tensions between Yeshua and Temple authorities escalate. In the end, all roads lead to Jerusalem, where Mari experiences depths of wonder unsuspected by those caught up in the tumult around her.

 
C.L. Francisco has joined me today to discuss the first three books in Yeshua’s Cats series, the influences behind her writing and she will also touch on the next adventures of Mari and Yeshua. Let’s start today’s chat off by delving into where the idea of following a cat’s narration of Yeshua’s journey started for you?
A cat I loved very dearly died as a result of a wildfire. Somehow her memory and voice wove itself into the idea of a re-telling of the Gospel story from the point of view of a cat–thus, Yeshua’s Cat.

 
Was her memory the only aspect of your own life that you included in the journey?
More than anything else, I used the cat Mari to try to communicate my own experience of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s a very personal account in many ways.

 
It is very clear that alongside this personal account, there is a strong, early religious journey. How did you make sure that this journey rang true?
I did an enormous amount of research, in spite of already having a PhD in religion. I compared gospel accounts, canonical and non, made spreadsheets, and learned everything I could about the culture and natural surroundings of anyone living in Israel during the early 1st century.

 
This is a bit of a tangent question, but I’m intrigued about what you can do with a PhD in religion, where do you find somewhere to use these religious research skills?
I taught religion at the college level for several years, and then worked as a director of humanities research at a small non-profit. Both combined to give me the background knowledge and research skills necessary to write books like the Yeshua’s Cats series. They say that a PhD is essentially a research degree: once you’ve earned it you should be able to do research on any subject at all. They may be right!

 
I think that you’re right! Now, back to today you’ve completed three books in the Yeshua’s Cats series. Is the third book the final journey of Mari and Yeshua?
I have just finished the 4th book in the Yeshua’s Cats series, Cat Born to the Purple, which picks up the story of a young woman who was stoned in Yeshua’s Cat. There will be at least one more book as a followup to Purple. After that I’m not sure.

 
After completing four books you must find it fun to look back on how you approached writing that very first book ‘The Gospel According to Yeshua’s Cat’. How did the writing process unfold for you back then?
I began it, and wrote about 4 or 5 chapters, the year of the wildfire, and then stopped, for a variety of reasons. I picked it up again 2-3 years later and did little else for the best part of a year.

 
How has that changed from how you approach the overall writing and publishing process today?
I write every day when I can, but being an indie author means I have many hats, so I can’t spend as much time as I would like actually writing. PR is a hugely time-consuming task, even in small bits. When I am writing, I write until I hit the wall and start writing gibberish. The number of words doesn’t matter. Sometimes the words come in a torrent. Other times I’m lucky if I can gather dew. And I have an office at home that I share with my cats where I write.

 
It’s good to see the feline support out in force for you :). As an indie author are you editing the books yourself, or are do you employ editors?
I do almost all the editing myself, with a little help from my friends!

 
Do your friends also chip in ideas for the book covers?
This first book cover was a collaborative effort between Wendy Francisco, my sister-in-law, and myself. She did the cat’s face and the buildings, and I did the back and the parchment. I’ve done all the covers since then by myself.

 
On the flip side of writing, do you also find that you yourself are a big reader, and if so who are you favourites?
My favorite authors are CS Lewis, Elizabeth Goudge, Dorothy L. Sayers, Lois McMaster Bujold (Challion), Robin McKinley, Diane Duane, and on and on.

 
*Laughs* And on and on. Are you reading anything good at the moment?
I am rereading one of my favorite books right now, written by a little-known mid-20th century British author, Elizabeth Goudge (not to be confused with Eileen Goudge). It’s called The Scent of Water, and is a glowing and beautiful depiction of the spiritual life–as experienced by very different characters.

 
That sounds like it could be a worthwhile read, I will have to check it out. As an avid reader do you think that you’ve taken anything out of your reading experiences and melded them into your own writing?
I suppose it’s possible. My writing is something that rises up unbidden when it’s at its best. I also write with a sense of rhythm that I think must be entirely my own.

 
I really think that developing a unique sense of writing rhythm really shows proficiency as an author so that’s a fantastic achievement. Speaking of rhythms, let’s change the tempo of this interview and go to some boppier, off-beat questions. As your series is narrated by an animal I’d love to know if you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
Cat and owl: a cowl

 
Hmmm. I’m having a little trouble picturing it – I think it’s got to do with having trouble deciding between feathers and fur but I think that it could work. And finally, do you have favorite quote or words of wisdom from another author?
“So I pray the gods may hear even me, and let my whispered yes tower above my shouted no and mount all the way to their five-fold realm.” by Lois McMaster Bujold, from Paladin of Souls.

 
There’s some good poetry in that. Thank you again for joining me today C.L., and I hope that your enjoy your journey promoting and completing the Yeshua’s Cats series.

 

Want to find out more about C. L. Francisco? Connect here!