I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite writers. His books of cat and dog poetry, I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats and I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs, are absolutely priceless. He is also the cartoonist who does the comic strip Sally Forth and as if that and his various published articles weren’t enough, he has won two local Emmy Awards for his work on a children’s puppet show. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Art from Duke University. His interests and hobbies include photography, hiking, running, art/comics/film history, creating short films, a love affair with all pop culture, a fascination with almost every animal and an undying hope that one day jetpacks will finally be cheap and plentiful.
When the opportunity arose to interview him, I jumped on it.
Here’s my Q & A with Francesco Marciuliano. My questions are in Black caps, his responses are in my usual brown type.
IT’S OBVIOUS THAT YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT CATS THAN DOGS. HAVE YOU LIVED WITH BOTH CATS AND DOGS OR ONLY ONE SPECIES?
I’ve lived with cats, dogs, birds… I wanted a pig. I have no pets now but I’m getting a cat this year. I had 2 cats, Boris and Natasha, 14 and 17 years respectively. I took a period of mourning and I wrote the books. Everyone mourns differently. Some people can go out and get another pet right away. I couldn’t everyone is different. I needed a period of mourning.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE THE BOOKS?
When Natasha passed away on Christmas Day I was very sad for awhile. I tried to think of a way to commemorate my cats and didn’t want to write anything maudlin. I didn’t want to write anything cutesy. I wanted to write something like the relationship, that was fun. I wrote about ten poems and put them off to the side. I wrote for myself. Charlie Sheen had a big breakdown and I pulled quotes, and had cats quote Charlie Sheen. It was a huge hit, NY Times and The Today Show, The Los Angeles Times, it went viral. I did it a couple of times. I posted the poems and people said I should publish them. My agent submitted the poems without telling me and called when a publisher wanted to publish.
YOU HAVE A GREAT UNDERSTANDING OF BOTH CATS AND DOGS.
Cats all have particular personalities. They’re lone hunters not lone personalities.
The dog is upfront with you with what is he trying to tell you. A dog will wear his heart on his sleeve but a cat won’t show you. Once you get the eye blinks you’re golden!
I’M EXCITED ABOUT THE SEQUELS, POEMS BY PUPPIES AND KITTENS. ARE YOU ENJOYING WRITING THEM?
I’ve had 3 dogs over 3 different times. I love writing them. It’s a way of remembering my pets. I love animals and as long as people will let me know [they like them]. The kitten book, I Knead my Mommy and Other Poems by Kittens will be out this summer. The puppy book will be released next year.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND THE GREETING CARDS AND CALENDARS THE BOOKS HAVE INSPIRED?
|Boris held by Francesco|
They’re on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and in a lot of greeting card stores. The new calendar will be out in July. The greeting cards are out now.
WHY DID YOU REALLY WRITE A BUCKET LIST WHEN YOU WERE ONLY 10?
Technically I didn’t call it a Bucket list and didn’t think I wasn’t going to make it to 11.
To a certain degree if I looked back on it, this was something a ten year old should do not a 21 year old. I grew up loving comic strips. I read Peanuts religiously, I related to Charlie Brown. I wanted to write a comic strip. I didn’t know the odds against it. I wanted to write humor books, I wanted to write for puppets and a comic strip.
I THOUGHT A WOMAN WAS WRITING THE COMIC STRIP, SALLY FORTH. I’M SURE I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO WAS FOOLED. WHY DID YOU OPT TO WRITE ABOUT A WOMAN?
Sally Forth led to writing for a puppet. I took over the comic strip in 1997. It came out in 1982. It was never written by a woman, it was created and written by a man.. It was created to show that a woman could be a mom and an office worker but the strip is different now because of the time. I love writing that strip. I don’t think I’m the voice of a woman, I write the character in the voices of the characters. I know how they would do it.
TWO REGIONAL EMMY AWARDS IS QUITE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT. IS IT A CHILDREN’S SHOW?
It was a puppet show. It was on PBS stations for about 2 years. I started as a writer and got to be head writer and wrote about 75% of the shows and involved animal puppets teaching kids all about safety. The company was doing the show and I helped design it. I was also worked at King Features. None of it was working. The first episode I wrote won the Emmy. Funding fell through and ended the show. I would love to do that again.
HUMOR ISN’T EASY TO WRITE. WHAT SENT YOU IN THAT DIRECTION?
|Natasha and Francesco|
My dad is very funny, always making jokes. My brother is very funny. It made sense to me in how to see the world. Just the way I can understand the world.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO SAY?
I know there are people who want to know if I’m a cat person or a dog person I love all animals. I love wolves. Wolves have the lowest attack rate on humans. I love them equally. A lot of people who aren’t around cats think they’re not particularly emotional or loving and they are. With the book I hope it shows that there’s a lot going on there.