Pet Spotlight: Lisa Brackmann

ImageOdds are I’ll end up a crazy cat lady.

Though I love animals of all kinds, I’ve always had a special bond with cats, since I was a very small child. I’m not sure when it started, probably shortly after I was born. My mom is a cat lover too, so there was always a cat around, and for whatever reason, even as a little kid I had a sense of how you interacted with one—let them come to you first, sniff you out, see how they react, before you start messing with them too much. They fit with my slightly introverted nature, I guess. What’s certain is that when I was a little kid, I was more interested in cats than in most humans.

I started my first novel when I was about five years old. It was to be an epic tale… of cats. Going camping. Only I could not spell “tent.” Thus, my first case of writer’s block.
When I drew, which I did a lot—I loved to draw and to paint—my favorite subject? Cats. In kindergarten I would create elaborate pictures on big pieces of construction paper, colorful houses in rows, and I’d paste another piece of paper behind the first and cut open doors and windows in the houses, and drawn on the back piece of paper so they were sitting in the doorways and windows were… cats.

This caused my kindergarten teacher some concern. So much so that she talked to my mom about it.

“I’m a little worried about Lisa,” she told my mom. “She’s always drawing cats.”

My mom couldn’t see why that was a problem, and told the teacher so.

The teacher blushed. “She draws these pictures. Of cats and houses. And she calls them ‘cat houses.’”

My mom got a good laugh over that. Did the teacher think we were running some sort of feline-themed bordello in our suburban San Diego home?

I went on drawing cats.

It’s not that I don’t like dogs. When I was about eight years old, I bonded with a particular puppy, a German shepherd mix. I named him Bill. He was a calm puppy, trotting along with me everywhere out in Lakeside, a rural area where my family lived at the time. We’d sit on the side of the hill overlooking the ditch, overgrown with prickly pears and a little stream running through it, in companionable silence. I didn’t get to keep him. Long story. But I’ve never quite gotten over it, I think, and have been reluctant to give my heart to a dog again. Some day, when I have that little house with a yard, I’d like another dog like Bill.

For now, I’ll stick to cats. I think if you did a poll of writers, you’d find that a solid majority of them have cats — dogs too; writers tend to be animal people in general. But more cats. Maybe because most writers are a little introverted, and cats are a good fit for that.

I’ve always had cats who like to “help” me write, sitting by me on the couch while I’m working, or sharing space on my lap with the laptop.

Lisa 1

Ghost hard at work inspiring greatness.

Here’s Ghost, my little part-Siamese, assuming her duties as Muse. Or, “Mews,” if you prefer.

Then, when they get bored with that, cats help by entertaining me, romping through the house, stalking stray bamboo leaves, or dealing with more subtle threats, like the slightly up-curled corner of the area rug, which is obviously bent on destruction. Ghost kills it nearly every night. She is a very good and brave girl. Here she is, subduing a highly deadly and lisa 2dangerous hanging object.

You know the cliché: “writing is a solitary profession.” It’s great having another living being close by that wants my attention, but not all of it, at least not all the time. Cats and writers are a lot alike that way.

Lisa Brackmann has worked as an executive at a major motion picture studio, an issues researcher in a presidential campaign, and was the singer/songwriter/bassist in an LA rock band. Yes, she will do karaoke, and she’s looking to buy a bass ukulele. Her debut novel, ROCK PAPER TIGER, set on the fringes of the Chinese art world, made several “Best of 2010″ lists, including Amazon’s Top 100 Novels and Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers, and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award for Best First Novel. Her second novel, GETAWAY, won the Los Angeles Book Festival Grand Prize and was nominated for the T. Jefferson Parker SCIBA award.