Rescue Mission: Shawn Flynn on ‘The Kitty’ (Q&A)

Today, I’m in virtual conversation with Shawn Flynn.

Shawn is the author of The Kitty: Who Rescued Me After I Rescued Him (CreateSpace). He spent more than twenty-five years in a market-research career before making the decision to pursue writing; his inspiration for this change came in knowing that he wanted to explore his deep connection with cats—and particularly Kitty, the first feline he ever rescued. Shawn makes his home in Enfield, Connecticut, where he cares for several indoor and outdoor cats and continues to write. He can be reached at: shawnpflynn@yahoo.com.

shawn-flynn
Shawn Flynn and Kitty.

Praise for The Kitty:

“The bonds of love and trust come in many forms. The story of Shawn and Kitty is an example of one such bond. It’s a beautiful story and one that will strike a heart chord.”—Amazon reviewer apk

“This would be the perfect book for any cat lover on your shopping list. A funny, sweet and endearing true tale of a single man and his cats. Shawn Flynn captures the true essence of the profound impact our pets can have on our happiness and sense of stability.”—Amazon reviewer john mcleod

From the publisher:

Shawn Flynn and his fiancée are excited to start their new life together. They are planning a wedding and have bought a new home. The last thing the two of them need right now is a new cat.

But their recently purchased house seems to come complete with a stray orange feline—a cat with a vibrant personality and a talent for mousing. So Shawn soon finds himself with a regular companion. Little does he realize that this cat will shortly become more important to him than he can possibly imagine.

As Shawn’s personal life begins to shift in ways he never saw coming, Kitty remains a constant source of stability and comfort. Shawn gave Kitty a home, and now Kitty gives Shawn the love he needs to heal.

A touching and inspiring story of heartfelt companionship, The Kitty offers an uplifting perspective on what it means to find true friendship in this world. Anyone who has ever shared a meaningful connection with a pet will fall head over heels in love with Kitty and Shawn.

As Shawn discovers, sometimes we don’t even realize we need to be rescued—until we are.

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Now, Shawn shares his story of feline friendship with us …

John Valeri: What inspired you to write The Kitty – and how did the experience of crafting a book compare to your expectations?

Shawn Flynn: Well, John, I had a very emotional experience a couple of years ago and I wanted to document my feelings and how it impacted me.  I started writing and just kept writing, kind of like when Forrest Gump started running and just kept running.  Before I knew it, I had a story.  I really didn’t have any expectations as I was writing for myself and didn’t have any plans to publish my work.  People I shared my initial manuscript with were touched, and encouraged me to see if I could get it published.

JV: The person-pet relationship is a unique one. How have cats enhanced your life – and in what ways did writing this book allow you to pay tribute them?

SF: Oh, yes, pets love you unconditionally and show you every day.  I have always been an animal lover and grew up having dogs as part of the family, but I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with cats.  I mean, I had friends that had cats, and my sister brought home a cat when I was a teenager, but I never had any direct experience with owning or taking care of a cat until I met Kitty.  I currently have four cats, and they are all rescues.  Not from a shelter or the SPCA, but I rescued them after they had been abandoned or were simply strays and living outside on their own.  I have to caveat that, however, as one of my cats was born in my garage when a feral cat went in it to have kittens.  My cats have brought me much joy over the years.  They’re always happy to see me, very affectionate, and at times quite amusing.  By sharing my experiences, some good and some not so good, that is my tribute to them, especially Kitty.

JV: Tell us a bit more about Kitty. In what ways was the timing of his appearance auspicious – and how were you ultimately able to save each other?

SF: I first met Kitty when I moved to the house where I am currently living.  According to my neighbor, he had been living in the backyard for two or three years.  He wasn’t feral, though, he had clearly been someone’s pet at some point.  So, he was either abandoned or a stray.  The relationship we developed happened over the course of several months, it wasn’t instantaneous.  I knew he had liked living outside and enjoyed having his freedom to roam, but I could also tell that he felt comfortable with and trusted me.  So, when it started to get cold outside that fall and he would try to get in the house, I decided it was time to take him to the groomer to get cleaned up and make him an indoor cat.  Having him in my life helped me through a difficult time and to ultimately re-examine my priorities.

JV: An author’s role reaches far beyond simply writing a book. What have you found to be the additional responsibilities that come with publishing? Also, do you have any words of advice for other first-time authors?

SF: Since I self-published The Kitty, all promotional activities are my responsibility.  With traditional publishing, authors can count on the experience and marketing clout of a publishing house.  The Internet and social media is very helpful for those of us who self-publish, and I would highly recommend to anyone considering this route for their book to do their homework in advance.  Meaning, research how varying self-publishing options impact your distribution choices.  Not all self-publishing options are created equal.

JV: You left a career in market-research to concentrate on writing. Why does this discipline call to you – and what might readers expect from you next?

SF: Well, John, I had worked in corporate America for over 25 years, and I was ready to give something else a try.  I guess that’s what they call the 7 year itch, but it took me 25 to get.  While corporate America has its pluses and minuses, and I might go back at some point, I had this great story about me and my cats that I wanted to further develop and I was at a good place in my life where I felt I could pursue that.  I’ve been spending a lot of time promoting the book during the last month, but I’ve also begun working on my next piece which will be about my cat that was born in the garage.  While I have a great relationship with all my cats, I’ve known Girlene since she was a day old.  I am all that she has ever known and the relationship I have with her is very special.  I’ve been taking all of my cats to the same vet’s office for 10 years and even they see how she is with me.

The Kitty: Who Rescued Me After I Rescued Him is currently available from Amazon as either a paperback or Kindle download.  We are also getting it into bookstores and gift shops locally and hope to further expand our distribution network.

Thanks for the questions, John.

***

With thanks to Shawn Flynn for his generosity of time and thought.

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