IN YOUR NEWEST BOOK, THE CAT THAT GOD SENT, WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO USE A CAT AS AN AMBASSADOR FOR GOD?
In my first book, The Dog Who Talked to God, I used a miniature schnauzer as one of the main characters and based some of his characteristics on the schnauzer that lives with us. We also share our home with an ill-tempered cat, a Siberian, who was more than a bit miffed at being ignored--so I had to use a cat in the following book.
Actually, cats have been part of my life since childhood. My mother was an animal lover and we almost always had a cat in the house. The thing about cats is that they are much more inscrutable than dogs. You can easily tell if a dog is happy or sad or anxious. With cats, that isn't the case. But if you closely observe cats, you begin to discover that they are indeed spiritual creatures, and seem to be very aware of all of creation around them--and thus, they are also aware, in feline terms, their creator.
Often, our cat appears to be deep in thought, and it was not a big jump to imagine that he was thinking spiritual thoughts.
CAN WE EXPECT MORE BOOKS FROM YOU ALONG THIS THREAD OF ANIMALS BEING USED IN UNEXPECTED WAYS BY GOD? IF SO, ANY HINTS ABOUT WHAT'S NEXT?
I am at work on another book with a dog as a main character. This story is set in the 1930's and features the relationship of a young boy and his dog. The dog does not talk--but we get a good sense of what he is thinking from the way he responds. I am about a third of the way through--and so far, if I say so myself--the story is powerful.
WHY DID YOU FEEL YOU HAD TO TELL THIS STORY?
I am often surprised at people who do not sense the wonder in God's creation. Even those of us who live in the suburbs should marvel at God's handiwork--a sunset, the change of seasons, the sounds of an owl at night--who else could be the author of such wonderful things?
I would like readers to see that God works in everything--and all we have to do is open our hearts and minds to see it. And since nothing is beyond God's authority, he could very well use animals to draw us back to Himself. I know that I have learned a great deal of what faith and belief means from simply observing our dog and cat. I suppose that if I could impart one truth in this book it is to 'pay attention.' One can find the fingerprints of God in everything.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE READERS GET OUT OF THIS STORY?
Besides paying attention, I would like readers to lay aside their preconceptions of how God works, and allow for the unexpected in life. I think many of us see life as predictable and routine, but it is so much more than that. Let God--and his creation--open your eyes, and with child-like wonder, enjoy his creation.
WAS THE FELINE PROTAGONIST IN YOUR BOOK BASED ON YOUR OWN FELINE FRIEND?
Yes, although our cat is a tad more ill-tempered than the cat in the book. But many of the cat's behaviors come straight from our cat--the staring off into space, the different vocalizations he uses, his disturbing habit of bringing his 'kills' back to us. (That does not happen often--but we no longer have a mouse problem in our basement.)
AND FINALLY, THE BURNING QUESTION ON EVERYONE'S MIND: DO ALL CATS GO TO HEAVEN?
The simple answer: Yes. I think that any animal that is loved by someone on earth will be in heaven. I know that there will be animals in heaven--and that means cats.
A portion of this article originally appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!