Anne, I'm so glad you could join me here at Archimedes’ Printing Shoppe’s blog to talk about writing and other passions, including those little gods and goddesses that go by the name of "cat." It's been awhile since we've had the opportunity to sit down around a monstrous plate of delicious Ethiopian cuisine at Lalibela, but let's pretend we're back in Chicago, licking the berbere sauce off our fingers, and getting caught up.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Absolutely! I’m a researcher and animal advocate who tries to give the animals a voice. I do research and writing for a living, so I thought I’d turn my talents toward animals. And that’s where I got the ideas to write the books I’ve written.
One of my favorite books of yours . . . and you're quite a prolific writer . . . is Community Cats, A Journey into the World of Feral Cats. I loved it because it was not only entertaining, but also an education. What prompted you to write this book?
I wrote it because I had a rat problem and a neighbor had heard a feral-cat program would solve that problem. I applied to be a colony caretaker in Chicago and the humane society came out and assessed whether I would be a good candidate. I had to provide a shelter for the cats along with food and water every day. I became really attached to the cats in my colony and they solved my rat problem. And I learned so much about community cats and about the people who advocate for them. I decided to write the book to show the role that community cats play in our world and how wonderful they are for neighborhoods.
You're one of these numbers and facts kind of gals . . . I always say, "you promised there would be no math," but your math intrigues me, especially how you break down the data to dispel some of the common misconceptions about community cats. Can you talk about what some of those are, and also, as you are so brilliant at doing, give the data to back it up?
I found that most people do not dislike stray and feral cats and that they want them to live out their lives as peacefully as possible. Approximately 73% of respondents said that they would prefer letting a stray cat live outside rather than to be euthanized. When the survey provided information about Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs, which is currently the best approach to feral cat management, most Americans were in favor of these programs—76% of them felt positively about these programs and 58% said they would be highly likely to support a TNR program in their area.
Your latest book is called Heroic, Helpful and Caring Cats. I have asked my cats what these are, and they all look at me blankly . . . dare I say, even a little indignantly. Why did you write this book and why was it important for you to make the case for these kinds of cats?
One of the things that has always puzzled me are the stereotypes about cats as being aloof and disinterested in people. I know for a fact that is untrue from my own experience, but also from the data that shows that cats are as attached to humans to the same degree that humans are attached to one another. I wanted to dispel the myth that cats are disconnected from us and to combat some of that anti-cat hype. I collected stories about cats who have changed people’s lives and who are deeply connected to the people around them. I also wanted to showcase therapy cats who are brought into hospitals and other organizations, and who are as good as any service dog.
Clearly, you are an animal lover. Your awarding winning book, Heartfelt Connections shows you've a deep knowledge of the power of the human animal bond and all of the incredible gifts that come with it. What inspired you to write this book?
I wrote that book because I wanted to show that the human-animal bond doesn’t just occur between humans and cats or dogs; it occurs across many species of mammals. When I started doing the research for this book, I found that there were strong connections between people and llamas, sheep, ducks, goats, cows, camels, pigs, and horses as well as with cats and dogs. I also wanted to show that many animals can be therapy animals and that these creatures can have a tremendous impact on people who need help. I found so many stories that were deeply moving and I wanted to share them.
You're not just about cats though. I'm currently reading your book Cinderella Didn't Live Happily Ever After . . . and I confess I hearkened back to my late teen years, remembering how I thought Pretty Woman was the best movie ever . . . only to now push 50 and realize that it was truly one of the worst movies, and a glorifier of things I no longer wish to see glorified, even if I still love Julia Roberts' big ol’ smile. This is one intriguing book. Can you tell me what the heck prompted you to go analyzing a bunch of Grimm fairy tales and why people should read this book?
That book came about because I turned to fairy tales one day when I was feeling low. I just wanted to escape. I started reading them and I realized they had so many lessons that can be applied to our modern lives. So I started to analyze them using my data analysis skills. The results were astounding, and I realized the stories transmit many hidden messages. I decided after doing all this analysis that Cinderella didn’t live happily ever after. But I still love fairy tales and I still read them.
Thank you so much for hanging out with me in this space, Anne. One last thing, where can folks get all of these books?
You can find them on Amazon at this link (Amazon Author Anne E. Beall) and a few other online retailers. It was a pleasure chatting with you!