An Interview with Faye Rapoport DesPres Author of “Tribbs: The Very Handsome Cat”
By nmurray, Feb 7 2020 10:24AM
My guest today is Faye Rapoport DesPres her new book Tribbs: The Very Handsome Cat (Writers Coffee Bar Press), book 2 in the Stray Cat Stories children’s book series, will be released on February 20, 2020. The heartwarming book with its charming illustrations is based on the true story of a stray cat who was found on the streets of New York and adopted, after a long wait, into a happy home.
Tribbs: The Very Handsome Cat is authored by Faye Rapoport DesPres and illustrated by Laurel McKinstry Petersen. DesPres donates a portion of the proceeds from her children’s books to non-profit animal rescue organizations. In the following interview, she answers questions about her life, her love for animals, and writing and marketing her books.
Hi Faye, I am glad that you can join me today. Please share with everyone your writing journey.
What made you want to write a book?
I started writing poetry and stories when I was a child, and I pursued writing as a journalist and public relations writer for environmental organizations early in my career. I kept up my interest in poetry by taking courses for a while, but eventually I focused more on journalism and marketing writing, because I had to pay the bills. I had been working as a professional writer for quite a few years when I had a health scare at 41 — a panic attack that felt as if I was having a heart attack. In the few moments when I thought something was really wrong, one of the thoughts that went through my mind was, “I never wrote my book.” In that moment, I understood that creative writing and writing a book was something I needed to put back on the front burner.
I went back to school and earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College. That two-year degree helped me re-focus on reading and writing creative work. I also learned a lot about craft, because creative writing is a different skill than journalism.
I still work as a professional writer, but now I do creative writing, too.
Tell us about you and where you live.
I was born in New York City, but when I was six years old my family moved to a rural farming town in upstate New York. My love for animals started at a young age. I grew up surrounded by natural beauty, wildlife and family pets. I remember knocking on neighbors’ doors when I was 10 years old seeking signatures on a petition to outlaw leg-hold traps. I had a “Friends of Animals” patch sewed onto my jeans.
I studied English and American Literature in college and Environmental Science with a Communications and Journalism specialty in graduate school before earning my MFA. I always wanted to write about animals, wildlife, and the environment.
I now live in Cambridge, Massachusetts with my husband, Jean-Paul Des Pres, and several cats we’ve adopted from different situations. Tribbs was a real cat who lived with me for almost 20 years, and Little White still lives with us today.
What have you written and what are you working on now?
After earning my MFA, I published a number of personal essays in literary journals. I also published several short fiction stories. In 2014 I finally released my first book, Message From a Blue Jay, a memoir-in-essays published by a wonderful independent press called Buddhapuss Ink. I then turned a true story I felt would be perfect for children into my second book, Little White: The Feral Cat Who Found a Home, which is the first Stray Cat Stories children’s book. Tribbs: The Very Handsome Cat is my third book. The children’s books wouldn’t exist without the wonderful illustrator Laurel McKinstry Petersen.
I am hoping to publish a third book in the Stray Cat Stories series, and I’m currently working on another project, a fictional prose book.
How do you market your books and do your promotion methods work?
It is such a challenge to get books out into the world if you’re not a well-known author backed by one of the large publishing houses. Small, independent presses have to work hard to try to get their books in front of reviewers and bloggers. The marketing for my first book was largely handled by Buddhapuss Ink, which did a wonderful job. The owner of the press, MaryChris Bradley, is a long-time publishing pro with experience in the big houses. She happens to also be the person behind Writers Coffee Bar Press, and she edits and designs my children’s books. For the children’s books, though, I have had to do more of the marketing myself.
One of the things I’ve found very helpful is to share information about the books and the cats through Facebook pages that I help to grow through occasional Facebook ads. Little White has almost 3000 fans on her very active Facebook page.
I also hired an amazing publicist for Tribbs: The Very Handsome Cat — Deborah Bernstein. Having Deb working behind the scenes to help get the word out has been so helpful.
It’s a challenge, but I find the effort worthwhile because I am trying to help teach children (and adults) about the importance of having compassion for stray cats and other animals. Each book has its own message about love and family and life as well.
Where can readers find your books for sale?
Message From a Blue Jay and Little White: The Feral Cat Who Found a Home are available on Amazon at at Barnes and Noble online (BN.com). Tribbs: The Very Handsome Cat will be available on Amazon and at BN.com on February 20, 2020 in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats. If readers want to support their local independent book stores, they can also walk in and ask the stores to order copies of the children’s books from Ingram.
Thanks Faye, I am sure that Tribbs will be a popular book for children.