Sunday, October 11, 2009

Interview with Basil, Douglas Quinn's fictional cat

Woof! Please welcome my guest, Basil the Cat. Now, Basil is not your regular kitty cat. For one thing, he's a fictional cat based on a real-life cat that died years ago, and he's a character in Douglas Quinn's mystery novels... Basil is here to talk about the fictional world he lives in and about the book's protagonist, Webb Sawyer.

Now, the author responsible for these creations, Douglas Quinn, is also an editor and book reviewer. You can find him at Gather. He loves writing for adults but also for children. In fact, his first children's book will come out before Christmas!

Sounds complicated? Just read the interview to find out!

Hi there, Basil! To begin with, where are you from?

Well, I was the last survivor of a litter living in and around the British Cemetery in Ocracoke Village on Ocracoke Island. That’s part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Every now and again I’d see this lady in a wheelchair go by. The first time she actually saw me, I was peeking out from behind a tombstone. She called to me and I bounded over to her, through the wrought iron fence and jumped up on her lap. I rode with her all the way to the grocery store and back to her house. I didn’t even think twice about going back into that creepy cemetery. The lady’s name was Blythe Parsons.

Tell us how you came to live with Webb Sawyer.

Oddly enough, Blythe was allergic to cats, so I wondered why she let me come live with her. As it turned out, she kept me out on her deck for a few weeks. Then one day we got into her van, which was converted for wheelchair-bound people, and made a several-hour trip up Ocracoke Island, across the ferry to Hatteras, then all the way up to Nags Head. She dropped me off with a man named Brant Cloninger, who took me on a skiff from his bait and tackle shop to a stilt house at Blue Heron Marsh.

I wasn’t sure what was up, but when the man named Webb Sawyer came home, I knew I had found the person I was meant to be with. Oh, he wasn’t too sure at first, but I soon charmed him into loving me–no problem.

Just who is this Webb Sawyer and what does he do?

Webb Sawyer was created by author Douglas Quinn. Webb’s a retired army sergeant–well, he was kind of forced out because he shot a captured Serbian death-squad leader in the face. But that’s another story. At any rate, he’s a little bit of a loner, although he has a few really good friends. He likes to fish and he takes me out with him when he fishes in the marsh. At first, he just fed me the scraps, but now I get to share some of the good parts.

As for what he does besides fish? Well, he seems to get himself mixed up with not-so-nice people who bother his friends. For instance, some Colombian guy was bothering Nehi, a girl who works for Webb’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Nan–by the way, I like Nan. At any rate, Webb broke the guy’s finger and, in turn, this guy and three of his friends came in the middle of the night by boat and tried to kill Webb and burn our house down. I hid until the next day. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but when it was all over, one guy was dead in the marsh water and the other three got back in their boat and sped off. There was a lot of shooting. I was really scared.

What kind of fictional world do you live in? Describe it a bit.

I love it here at Blue Heron Marsh. Webb’s house sits up ten feet out of the water on stilts. It originally was a fishing house, but was remodeled into a real home with all the conveniences. It’s got a closed in front porch that faces the Roanoke Sound. Webb calls it the back porch because he doesn’t like the idea of the front of his house facing any direction people might be traveling by, even if by boat. His real back porch is open but roofed and faces the marshes. Sometimes we fish right off the porch. Underneath the house is a landing dock and a raised area where Webb keeps a freezer with extra fish. He stored a body in there once. It was one of the bad guys. It’s a great place for a cat to live.

I like to sit in the window facing the causeway that runs between Nags Head and Roanoke Island and watch for anyone coming out to the house. Usually it’s Nan. It was there that I heard the bad guys coming and woke up Webb to warn him.

Do you get to take part in adventures in the book, or are you mainly a watcher?

Oh, Webb takes me some places, but so far I haven’t really gotten into the action. That’s probably for the best. I subscribe to the old saying, “Make love, not war.” I heard Webb say that once. Funny, since he was in the army and, as I said before, gets himself wrapped up in some violent situations. He really is an easy-going man. He just won’t put up with evil or corrupt people who bother him or his friends. He wants to make things right. That seems to get him into troublesome situations.

I hear Webb is a beer snob. Is that true?

He only likes Grolsch. I guess it’s a taste bud thing. If in a pickle, he might condescend to drink Heineken. He drank an Oranjeboom once but wasn’t happy about it. Besides that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him go outside the Dutch brews. His friend, Ben Straker, from the Uwharries region of North Carolina, drinks Bass Ale. Webb calls it Panther Piss–if you will excuse my language. Me, I don’t see how humans can drink that stuff. Now, coffee, that’s a different story.

Who is your favorite character in the story? Why?

I presume you mean in Pelican Point. In Blue Heron Marsh, I didn’t show up until the epilogue, so I missed all the characters and the fun in that one. In Pelican Point I’ve got to say that Preston’s (Webb’s son’s) girlfriend, Sunshine Bledsoe, is my favorite. When I met her she seemed kinda shy and meek but I heard that at the end of the story she turned out to be a real spitfire. Also, while I still like Nan Ftorek, she and Webb seem to be currently on the outs, and I have taken a liking to a new lady in Webb’s life named Clarky Ayers. She likes to fish and is good at it, too.

Where can readers find Pelican Point and the other Douglas Quinn books?

All the major online booksellers carry them. Amazon is the best as they deliver the quickest. Also it can be ordered by any local bookstore through the distributor, Ingram. By the way, I’ve asked the author if I can have a really exciting scene in Swan’s Landing, the next Webb Sawyer Mystery, and he promised me I would. “Hurrah for my side!” I learned that one from Webb.

How does it feel to be a fictional cat?

I don’t know about other fictional cats but I have a great friend in Webb Sawyer, a great place to live, get to go fishing all the time, have plenty of food and drink and get to go places in his old Ford pickup he calls Trusty Rusty. What more could a cat ask for? Come to think of it, maybe Webb could find a girlfriend with a female feline. Hee-hee!

Give us some fictional feline advice.

As a well-known cat once said, “Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction is truer.”

Thanks for the interview, Basil!

Note: The Character, Basil, is based on the author’s cat who, as a neighbor’s kitten, came to visit, decided he liked it better at Douglas Quinn’s house and, when the neighbors moved, stayed. A couple of years later, he was found dead, killed, it is believed, by a local gray fox. He was extremely friendly and trusting. That’s probably what led to his demise.


  1. Basil is a wonderful name!
    And Ocracoke Island - I don't live too far from that spot!

  2. Oh, I'm sorry about the cat's death. But Basil's story will help keep his memory alive. Nice interview.