Interview with Alex Mahon

Author of The Happy Cat's Detective

A.T. Mahon has written features and stories for various publications and was a joint winner in the 'Scotland into the Future' contest run jointly by Canongate and The Sunday Herald in 1999. He now lives in Spain with his wife and cat.

When he's not teaching English to students, whose high level of English surpasses most native speakers, he treks in the Pyrenees, or unsuccessfully fends off the cat who occupies the chair at his writing desk when not in use. Advice on how to entice him off it would be greatly appreciated.

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How would you describe The Happy Cat's Detective to a new reader?
  • A young veterinary assistant falls in love in Canada but has to return home to Spain due to work commitments. Soon after, her salary helps maintain a cat's refuge. The problem is, her boyfriend can't afford to come over. So, she wants to save up the money to join him, but if she does that, there's a fair chance the stray cats will be turfed out in the street.
What was the inspiration behind The Happy Cat's Detective?
  • I lived on a farm where the owners would adopt stray animals.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
  • I admire authors who come from humble beginnings and have never had a leg up because of their connections. Ther rawness has influenced me as it is how I write.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in the book?
  • They're in and around Lleida, Spain. They provide the perfect setting as they're easy to get to since I live here.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? How would you advise a new author about traditional publishing versus self publishing?
  • Keep trying and listen to criticism with a pinch of salt. Grow a thicck hide as not everybody will like your masterpiece. Both types of publishing are okay, though with self publishing you have more control.
What's your writing process?
  • Write-edit-write-edit-leave for a few weeks then rinse and repeat.
Which character in The happy Cat's Detective has had the greatest impact on readers?
  • The old woman as their banter is funny.
If The Happy Cat's Detective were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
  • An unknown. That way they could own the part.
How have readers responded to The Happy Cat's Detective?
  • Very positively. It's an easy, feel-good read that is witty.
Where next? What are you working on now?
  • A street prostitute who makes a life or death decision in her life.
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The cat's refuge is running out of money.

Cristina does the best she can, but pretty soon the cats will be turfed out into the streets. If that's not bad enough, there's her Canadian boyfriend.

She met him in Canada while working as a vet. Things were platonic until the last night when they shed their inhibitions, culminating in a night of unbridled passion.

Now he wants to come over and continue where they had left off. Problem is, he can find neither the time nor the money. Cristina's patience is running out. Should she forget all about him and save the cats? Or return to Canada and forget all about the cat's refuge?

What would you do?