J.E. Kraft is a Tennessee based writer and a self proclaimed “super geek.” She has been writing since the age of 7, and has used her writing talents to become an advocate for mental health awareness. Author J.E. sat down with us to discuss how Like Kats and Dawgs has mirrored her own life and what is next for her in the writing pipeline.

1) Where did you find the inspiration for your book?

So much of this one was pieced together from events with pets throughout my life. The main plot came from when my hubs and I had a rescue cat and decided to add a rescue pup to our young family. The cat was not thrilled. It took him quite a while to adjust, but eventually fighting turned into play fighting. Just about that time, I became pregnant. The cat would cuddle and purr against my belly, but when the baby was finally born, it was a whole new adjustment for him. Even with a newborn and no time to write it, I knew it would make for an adorable story. I didn’t want to stop there, though. I wanted it to subtly educate about how to be a good pet owner. The story is sprinkled with nods to neutering, micro-chipping, crate training, and animal body language.

2) How does this project compare to your previous works?

Wow. I think looking at my works together really shows my ADHD. I write whatever’s “shiny” to my brain at the time without regard to whether I’ve done something like that before or even if I have the skills to pull it off. I have collections of poems and short stories. There are a handful children’s picture books that I would love to see published one day. And I’m currently working on adult vampire books. Taken within that span of randomness, this makes complete sense. However, when I started Like Kats and Dawgs, I hadn’t written something for that age range since I was in that age range. I found the whole process delightful and can see myself doing several more.

3) As the author, what's your favorite part or piece in this work?

From a writing perspective, Kit can be seen as both protagonist and villain. I loved the challenge of presenting a cat as the self-centered beings they are and making the reader love it any way because that’s what cats do to us every day. They are demanding, moody, and entirely self-centered while also being sweet, endearing, and loving.

On the dog end, I loved writing the scene where the puppy is keeping everyone up at night crying. I’ve yet to have a puppy that didn’t cause sleepless nights the first week or two. It was maybe a little cathartic to be able to give words to all those midnight howls. Then, conveying those hours of torture, followed by morning puppy kisses, was like being able to give everyone a piece of that experience.

4) What do you hope your readers get out of this book?

On a practical level, I would love for the book to help people be better prepared to have pets even if they’re unaware that’s what it’s doing. A lot of people get an animal without realizing how much they require. I know my family did growing up.

What I want for it as a creative person and a mother is to perpetuate one of my favorite experiences. Some of my most treasured memories in raising my boys were us snuggled on the couch together reading. I want to give readers that: everyone pressed close, transported to another world. I hope to provide a story that touches both young and old and has the family laughing and crying together as they experience the characters and their struggles. I want it to be one of those books that the family talks about long after about long after it’s finished.

5) How has the response been so far?

Without having a word or an outline written, I’d pitch the idea and have people laughing. So, from its conception, I knew I had something. When it came down to writing, I really wanted to pull off what my favorite children’s authors accomplished: a journey that enriched both kids and adults. When I gave the first draft to my beta readers, I got great feedback. They fell in love with Kit, laughed about Doodle, and enjoyed the story. The true test came when I gave it to my ten year old to read. Every time I’d hear him laugh in the other room, I was so proud. I knew I’d done it right. That was months ago, and he still brings up parts in the story occasionally. I’m really happy the adults enjoyed it, but the genuine response I got from my son let me know it will hit with the audience it’s primarily written for.

6) What's next for Author Kraft? What are you currently working on?

Definitely more writing. I’m currently working on a sequel to my adult vampire novel and trying to decide which of my ideas to write next. So far, my process has been to get an idea and marinade in it for several years before starting on it. That said, I have a queue of ideas. The two I consider most both have protagonists around the age of twelve and a more serious bend. One is a sci-fi story about a kid born by accident on an interstellar research vessel and the difficulty he causes an alien at first contact. The other is a story about a boy with a mom who has bipolar disorder and his journey during her treatment. True to my usual process, I’ve been thinking about the themes of both and doing research for a few years. I’ve especially been researching in bipolar communities so I can represent the difficulties without adding further stigma.

Like Kats and Dawgs by Author J.E. Kraft is available in hardback, paperback, and e-reader now! You can grab your copies on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and City Limits Publishing.