Thursday, December 02, 2021

Author Interview Conspiracy of Cats by B C Harris

What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always been a reader. As far back as I can recall books were always part of my life, gifts to be given as well as received. Books were part of the family, places to escape to when the weather was bad, or the nights dark, always there when I needed them. I was a regular at my local library and considered a trip there to be something exciting, well worth the long walk there and back.

Something else that’s always been with me, is my vivid imagination. I’ve always indulged this with plenty of daydreaming. It doesn’t take a lot to see my attention turning inward and drifting off into fantasy. I particularly like to play with scenarios, and make up little stories for people that I see as I go about my own business. The writing side of things took a little longer however.

Real life demands so much time and effort, that it wasn’t until 2020 and the global pandemic that any actual writing took place. The isolation and sudden availability of time combined then to inspire me to sit down and actually write Conspiracy of Cats, which had been turning over and over in my mind for many years by then. My very own silver lining, and I intend now to build upon that.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing is apparently descriptive. I say apparently, as this is what my reviewers seem to be quite unanimous about. I don’t really think about style when writing anything, I just write what feels right initially and, as the process evolves, what adequately gets what I need to portray out of my head.  I can see everything so vividly inside my imagination, and try my best to transfer those images onto the page.

I actually see writing as a form of construction; words become the bridges between me, the writer, and you, the reader. Some of what I write about is real… the natural world for example, the biodiversity of surroundings. Then I’m just describing something that already exists, in the hope that your own imagination will bring it to life. But my characters and the scenarios they get involved in are wholly unreal, so they start off in my imagination, transfer onto the pages of the book and then, finally, they make the jump into your head where your own imagination completes the imagery for your own very personal encounter.

Writing is a contract between me and each individual reader; we need each other in order to complete the experience.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

There are scenes in the book when Jude and Peter are living and working in a rehab centre for wild animals… Jude being set upon by a gang of servals, a huge lion cub using Peter’s back as a spring board, the endless rounds of cleaning up poo and the very gruesome pre-breakfast task of skinning chicks. Me and my husband experienced all of this and more when we spent time in South Africa. This was an extended holiday of two parts. One spent working with animals, and the other spent at a luxury lodge, lazing by the pool and going on game drives. The entire experience helped me to bring these scenes to life.

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

Peter Sinclair wrote himself most of the time, and I have met this man in my dreams more times than I can count. I have no idea what we talked about during our many dreamed of meetings, but whenever I awoke I was able to write screeds of text involving Peter and hardly any of it was ever edited out. I still dream with him, which leads into the next question.

If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

When I started writing Conspiracy of Cats… and for all the years it was a figment of my imagination, I believed it was a standalone story. But Peter and Jos, are still with me. One night recently I had a very vivid dream starring Jos. I woke up and scribbled it all down as fast as I could, lest it escape into the ether as dreams tend to do. I knew then that I had the opening chapter of a sequel. Since then I have followed this story down so many mental pathways, I know exactly where it will lead and why. The journey is still little more than a series of ideas, but I know there is a great deal of potential there. It won’t be for a long while though. I have two other stories to complete before then. I think of it as book number five.

What book are you reading now?

Better Confess by Alan Gorevan.

What books are in your to read pile?

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid, The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid, The Last Witness by Denzil Meyrick, Dark Suits and Sad Songs by Denzil Meyrick, Written In Blood by Chris Carter, The Whistling by Rebecca Netley.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Because Conspiracy of Cats has already been published, I’m going to tell you a little about what I hope is coming next.

Making Sacrifices is going through the submission process right now. If I had to write a blurb for the back cover it would go something like this…

Isaac Saddler partied himself into a coma. He died. When he came back he was subsequently plunged into a nightmare each time he slept. Nightmares that were so terrifying he thought he was losing his mind. In an effort to exorcise his demons, he began to paint as well as write about them. Focussing on the young woman starring in these terrible dreams, he reinvented her, transforming her from a victim into a ruthless warrior. She became Vida, Queen of the Vidian Empire and she went to war against the sinister darkness that assailed them both. Isaac had her story published.

But Vida doesn’t just exist between the pages of his illustrated novel.

An archaeological dig has uncovered what they hoped would be an ancient bog body. But the remains turn out to be evidence of a much more modern find. The police use technology to reconstruct the victim’s face and, when the image is published, it goes viral.

The dead woman is a dead ringer for Vida, and Isaac must find out why the woman of his nightmares ended up dumped in a bog pool five miles from where he grew up. His journey uncovers a lifetime of secrets so devastating they threaten to undermine his entire existence.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you haven’t actually written your manuscript yet, but have that story going around and around inside your head, don’t despair. No matter how much time passes, if that story stays with you then it wants to be told. Don’t fret about never having time, just keep your story alive in daydreams and make notes of any breakthroughs you may have concerning plot or character development. One day you’ll be in the right place, with the right frame of mind, and you will begin the process of writing your story down so that you can share it with others.

If you’ve already written your manuscript, or are in the final stages of honing your story, don’t spend too much time on social media reading about other people’s experiences and opinions regarding publishing. There are a lot of very bitter personalities out there, and an incredible amount of mis-information. I’ve been angered, upset and put off by a lot of what I’ve read in the past, so I avoid it all as much as I can now. There are several pathways to being published. Find the one that suits you best by researching the options and not the opinions of others.

When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

I’ve always been a fan of reading, and so I do a lot of that. Scotland lends itself perfectly to this hobby, because the weather can be very fickle. All that wind and rain makes it easy to choose to stay close to hearth and home… and that ever growing pile of books awaiting my attention.

That being said, I still really enjoy being outside. We have two dogs; an energetic border terrier and a little princess pug. Whatever the weather is doing, those dogs must get their exercise, so we all to go out exploring our surroundings every day. We live on a peninsula, so have easy access to beautiful beaches as well as lochs, rivers, forests and hills. Lots of fresh air and beautiful skies.

I enjoy swimming, and go to our local pool four times a week. I love the cinema and theatre. I also like sewing, and used to make a lot of my own clothes. Lately I’ve been making cat cushions, and chicken or owl doorstops made from fabrics collected over the years. I also enjoy painting… the decorating kind. Occasionally I cook… in our home it’s my husband who does most of the cooking.

I like to get dressed up and go out somewhere a bit posh for a good meal. But my favourite thing in the whole world of nights out is a good night in. Someone once asked me… if you ever become famous enough for people to choose to dress up as you for a party, what would be their outfit? My answer… PJs and a pitcher of margaritas.

What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?

I hope that Making Sacrifices will be accepted for publication so I can relax a bit regarding that story, and get on with The Accidental Assassin; a black comedy about a care assistant who sort of murders one of her clients, definitely murders her boyfriend and… with a little help from a supernatural entity, embarks upon a new career as contract killer.


Conspiracy of Cats
B C Harris

Genre: Contemporary fiction, paranormal, murder mystery
Publisher: Olympia Publishers, London
Date of Publication: 26th August 2021
ISBN: 978-1-80074-032-7
Number of pages: 325
Word Count: 123,121
Cover Artist: Olympia Publishers, London

Tagline: A Beautiful House, A Horrible Death, A Brilliant Revenge

Book Description: 

CONSPIRACY OF CATS… a supernatural murder mystery.

An apprehensive Jos Ferguson travels from Edinburgh to Northern Tanzania to visit the house her Uncle Peter built before he died. But Peter isn’t as dead as he should be… he was murdered, and he wants his niece to help him exact revenge upon his killer. With a little Maasai magic and a conspiracy of cats, Jos sets out to do exactly that.

A beautiful house. A horrible death. A brilliant revenge.

Who knew death could be so lively?


Looking back, it was as if Peter had known that he was going to die.  

It was as if all of them had known, because the Maasai came prepared for their ritual even though their little brother died only a few hours before they arrived. It was the largest group of Maasai Beola had ever encountered at the white house. At least fifty men, most of them warriors, all carrying their weapons and their shields. Their chests and faces and arms painted as if they were going into battle. She watched them from the master bedroom window, just as she’d watched the police arrive, having gone back up to finish changing the bed so it would be clean and ready when Jude returned. They arrived on foot just before sunset, and it would have taken all day to walk from their village on the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro all the way to the white house.  

Some of the warriors carried armfuls of wood, and immediately began building a large fire in the middle of the lawn. The elders, including their bearded laibon, sat down on the porch steps to rest and, when Beola went out to meet them, they asked only for water. When she offered food they politely refused. When Beola moved to go back inside to fetch the water, a young warrior stopped her. ‘We must leave the white house in peace, little sister,’ he told her, and then he and several of his fellow warriors guided her towards the lodge where they fetched enough water for all. When that was done, the young warrior told her, ‘Word has been sent into the park so your husband and your son will come home soon. When they do, you must be ready to leave.’

‘But why?’  

‘The laibon wishes to cleanse the white house of sorrow.’

Beola knew better than to argue with the wishes of a laibon, and so she nodded, resigned.

‘How long must we stay away?’

‘Moon die and come back again, man die and stay away. Come back with the new moon, sister.’  

Back inside the lodge Beola began to pack, without any clear idea of where her family would go or who they would stay with. By then it was full dark, and the fire was burning so brightly she could see its orange glow above the garage blocking her direct view. Kissi and Ben arrived while she was still packing, in shock at both the death of their friend and the large gathering on the white house lawn. The evening breeze was becoming a wind by then, and the stars were obscured by gathering clouds. The warriors had begun to sing a sorrowful sounding song, their beautiful voices competing with the mounting voice of the wind.  

By the time the Nyerere’s were readying to leave, a storm was in full flow.  

The perimeter of trees bent and swayed in the wind that had initially made their leaves whisper. That wind was howling and shrilling by then, a tempest that thrashed and whipped the leaves and branches. Storm clouds had gathered so close, they were piled on top of one another, grumbling, rumbling, crashing with thunder directly overhead. Lightening split the night over and over. Up on the roof garden, a solitary figure braved the onslaught. The old laibon was yelling into the night, his spells snatched away by the wind that seemed, in turns, to want to blow him away and push him down. Rain pelted down upon him, it blinded his eyes, dripped from his beard, soaked his shuka and chilled his bones. He fought against it, at the same time as he embraced it, arms stretched wide and high. Calling out, over and over, to the spirit of his friend.

As the Nyerere’s were loading up their jeep, another vehicle arrived, lights sweeping across the scene as it circled the lawn. Beola thought that it must be Jude, but it was Henk de Vries, pulling up in his flatbed truck. She assumed he’d heard the news and had come to pay his respects. She ran towards him, but half a dozen warriors barred Beola’s way. They told her to go, to never speak of this night to anyone. Beola struggled against them, and called out to Henk in some distress, but either the wind stole her voice, or the Dutchman chose to ignore her. Kissi was next to her by then and had to impel his wife bodily into the back of his Land Rover as Ben sat quietly weeping in the front. He then got in himself and set off for his father’s home in Arusha, having called ahead to stay there were sanitation issues at their home, so they needed a place to say for a while. As they were moving around the lawn towards the drive, Beola watched Henk lower the tail gate of his truck and saw two warriors lift and carry something towards the fire. Meat for the funeral feast, he told her much later.  

When Kissi’s Land Rover reached the foot of the hill, he turned north towards the main road that would take them to Arusha. They left the storm behind almost immediately. When they reached the top of the escarpment, he stopped and got out. Ben and Beola joined him. Together they stood atop the ridge, watching a small storm rage over the white house.  

About the Author: 

B C Harris is a Scot who, at the time of writing, had just finished renovating a farmhouse in France. A labour of love that began from first sight back in 2016. No sooner had the final length of flooring been laid and the last paintbrush dried, than disaster struck in the form of pandemic. France went into a strict lockdown and, with time to do more than simply daydream about writing books, a new project began to take shape.

Writing began as an escape from the fear and isolation that was soon affecting us all, and quickly flourished to become ‘Conspiracy of Cats'. The global pandemic seems to be receding now, but the passion for writing has taken root. Find out more about B C Harris online.

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