Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Siri Zwemke to the blog!
Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.
I’ve always loved to write, but the opportunities that have presented themselves have been short stories or articles for newsletters (work) and the occasional article for a publication. After 20 years as Director (and Founder) of the Siamese Cat Rescue Center, there were so many funny stories I wanted to both remember and share, that it made sense to write them down in book format.
Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?
Over the years with Siamese Rescue, we have always taken in the cats that couldn’t be adopted out – typically the older ones or the ones with significant behavior issues. Many of the cats we only had for a few years, due to their condition, so over the years of Rescue, as well as before Rescue, I think we’ve had a total of 50 some personal cats. Add into that dogs, horses, chickens, ducks, goats and various other pets growing up; my life has certainly centered around animals. Currently we only have two cats and they are ‘quasi-normal’ for Siamese.
Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?
Rescue Meez is the story/history/memoir of how I ended up going from crazy cat lady to the Director of a national organization that has rescued over 13,000 cats and spawned separate organizations across the United States. There are some wonderful stories of some of our most memorable cats and the experiences we had together – Koda, Squirrel, PowPow to name just a few.
What are you reading now?
I am a voracious reader, completing on an average two to three books a week. I just finished Lost Horizon by James Hilton and before that Peony by Pearl S. Buck, and I am about to start a reread of Stuart Little. I read a lot of different genres, but the writing has got to be good and I don’t hesitate to put down a book if I don’t like it.
What writing projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently finishing up an autobiography of my life and the lessons I’ve learned, moving from a very traumatic childhood to where I am now. While I’m going to publish it, I haven’t yet decided if I will release it to the general public or just keep it internal for family members and descendants. After that, I plan to work on a book of short stories from the cat’s point of view, storytelling how some of our memorable cats made it into our rescue program.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I don’t have one favorite author, but a few of my top ten include Catherine Ryan Hyde, Harlan Coben, Kristin Hannah
Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.
Certainly did. We had horses (three); dogs (two); cats (multiple); chickens, and ducks.
How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?
My current and first book centers around some of the many cats we rescued over the last 20 years, so they are the primary characters! A book full of true stories, that I worked hard at making enjoyable and happy reading (with just a few tears thrown in here and there).
Why do you include animals in your writing?
I wanted to write about something I knew and had experienced first hand, and animals it was!
What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?
I am leery about reading animal stories, as I don’t want to read anything that has animal abuse or too much sadness in it – I see enough of that in my career. However I did enjoy the book Racing in the Rain. I haven’t yet seen the movie.
What’s your real-life funniest pet story?
Read the book I’d have to say doing the Dance of the Dead Mouse naked, in my birthday suit, takes the cake.
When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?
I’ve always received very positive feedback from the articles and stories I did for the twice-yearly newsletter for work.
What’s the number one item on your bucket list and why?
I don’t have a bucket list like other people. I strive, every morning, to find happiness and peace of mind in that particular day.
What do your pets do when you are writing?
What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?
I rely on Goodreads (otherwise I can’t remember what I have already read) and I have 861 books on my ‘want to read’ list!
What’s the most unusual pet you’ve ever had?
Probably the duck that lived in our living room growing up.
What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
Writing is the easy part. Marketing is very difficult and time consuming.
Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?
On the couch. It has a great view and is very comfortable.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Persevere! It’s such a great feeling to get a book out there!
What is one lesson you learned about writing or publishing that you’d like to share?
Nothing happens quickly. Patience will serve you well.
Siri Zwemke is the founder and Director of the Siamese Cat Rescue Center, a 20-year-old internet-based non-profit that spans the Eastern third of the United States and has helped 13,000 cats to date.
Zwemke switched careers mid-stream when her love of Siamese cats turned her into a crazy cat lady, rescuing one too many cats and finding herself trying to fill a need she didn’t realize was out there. When the shelters kept calling and she kept saying yes to Siamese cats that were needing help, Zwemke left her job as a teacher of the hearing impaired and took on building a non-profit that eventually spanned 20 states and had 900 volunteers.
Zwemke has recently put pen to paper to document some of the hilarious situations she found herself in as she learned about cat rescue the hard way. In her first book, Rescue Meez, Zwemke pokes fun at herself in a lighthearted manner as she grows the Rescue from the ground up. From handling rifle-wielding hillbillies in the mountains of Virginia to doing the Dance of the Dead Mouse, Zwemke takes us on a journey through the last 20 years as she shares information on the trials and tribulations of building a cat rescue organization.
Currently residing in Virginia with her husband, Darrell (whom she met through the Rescue), several cats and a dog, Zwemke enjoys gardening, reading, and is working towards her black belt in Martial Arts.
Zwemke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Booking it! Rescue Meez available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers