PW: What inspired you to create Midnight Louie?
CND: I wrote a story about the first real-life Louie [in the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota] and his rescue. He was remarkable, simply by being a motel cat [in Palo Alto, Calif.]. Stray animals in his situation usually starve and die quickly. He was doing so well, eating the motel's fancy koi that are worth $1,800 apiece. The motel management was going to send him to the pound to be killed, until a woman flew him home to save his life. Essentially he was going to be punished for being a good survivor.
PW: In Cat in a Midnight Choir, the love triangle of Temple, Matt and Max continues. Will Temple ever decide between them, or will she stick with Louie?
CND: Louie will always be her main dude and she'll always be his little doll that he's out to protect. But yes, there will be resolutions of the relationships, and it may not be a triangle forever.
PW: A stripper killer is on the loose in your new book. In doing research, did you actually check out stripper clubs?
CND: Yes, I interviewed several strippers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I got such a complete picture of the culture and the strippers from visiting backstage. I was literally watching these women display abusive backgrounds, and yet there's a certain toughness and survival ability that's very admirable. Some make tremendous money and pull away from it and become entrepreneurs. Some really need the spotlight, while others have serious control issues.
PW: One of the best aspects of the series is the way all murders aren't solved and a complex web keeps expanding. Have you figured out who killed whom?
CND: I have—once I realized what I was doing and that I was indeed writing one really long novel. There are going to be a total of 27. I write to find out, like a lot of writers do, what my characters are about and what my books are about.
PW: Do your characters surprise you?
CND: Yes, but I prefer it most when they surprise the readers.
PW: Some mystery buffs find talking animals too distracting. Do you ever get tired of mixing Louie's humorous narrative with the more straightforward third person?
CND: Not really. Louie has his own plot he has to follow. Sometimes it's extremely difficult because I have a character who works a night shift, so every time I leave a night scene with him, it's a new day. I have a time table I have to follow and it's very difficult. So, his voice is so important. My springboard for the series was my sense of Midnight Louie's Damon Runyan-esque Guys and Dolls voice. He's not just a cat in the mystery. He's my take on the rogue male persona. I find a lot of modern fiction makes into a hero the male who's amoral, asocial and hard on women, and Louie has many of these characteristics. He's politically incorrect, but underneath he's learning to grow. He has a good heart and a certain innocence.
PW: Would you describe yourself as a genre author?
CND: I like to say I put genre elements into a mainstream matrix. I like to break genre rules. I'm a character-driven literary chameleon.