A Launch Week Ode to Junkyard Johnny

By Liz, super excited that Purrder She Wrote releases tomorrow, with its twin Death Over Easy by Maddie Day!

Release weeks are always so exciting. This is my eighth published novel, and some days that’s still hard to wrap my head around.

I’m having a ton of fun writing the Cat Cafe series. My only regret for this launch is that the real JJ isn’t around to revel in the release of his second book. For those of you who missed it, Junkyard Johnny, who’s the real life inspiration for the cat of the same name in the books, passed away unexpectedly in January. My publisher, St. Martin’s Press, is doing an amazing job keeping his memory alive on the cover of this book – doesn’t it look like him??

cover REVISED - Purrder She WroteJJ copy

I know he’d want to be here right now to pose with his books, hold some contests, and announce Cate’s new website that just launched. He would’ve been especially intent on growing his fan base (he was always a little jealous that Tuffy had his own page) but on the other hand, JJ was confident enough to know that he was pretty special and loved by a lot of people.

For those of you who weren’t well acquainted with JJ, here’s a little about him.

He was rescued from a junkyard in New Hampshire by a friend of a friend in 2003, and the vet estimated him to be about three years old. He ended up at the shelter I volunteered at back then, and I fell in love with that face from the minute I saw him. And his squeak. For a big, strong alley cat who’d survived in a junkyard, he didn’t meow – he squeaked. And it was hilarious. (He knew when you were laughing at his squeak, though, and he hated it.) You’ll see the same characteristic in the book version of JJ.

A year later, he had a serious medical condition and needed emergency surgery and a week-long hospitalization. Luckily, he survived and lived to wreak different levels of havoc for a long time.

He could be a bully. He had something against fluffy cats and always beat up his longer-haired siblings. Honestly, at one point his behavior was so challenging he ended up on Prozac. (I know, right?)

He loved catnip, and catnip toys. His favorite was the stick of catnip “dynamite.” Even as he got older, he loved to chase that thing around and fling it in the air. And he also loved to get high off it. IMG_0761

He was also a really good snuggler. I always wondered how he lived in the junkyard when he so clearly preferred soft beds and humans to snuggle with. Brothers and sisters, not so much most days…but nobody’s perfect.

Happy launch day, JJ – your memory will live on in the series, and I’ll visit a cat cafe in your honor.

IMG_4591Meanwhile, copies of the book have already been sighted! Here’s one from Sarasota, Florida.

Readers, leave a quick ode below to a pet who still lives on in your memory…or tell us if you’re going to the bookstore for any new releases this week!

55 Thoughts

  1. My Sam, who looked remarkably like JJ, passed overnight. I shall bury him once the sun rises.

    1. Barbara, I am shedding tears for your beloved Sam and my darling Barney who passed last August. Time heals but doesn’t dim the memories. Denise

  2. My Birdy, the cat in the Country Store Mysteries, died a year ago, and I’m so glad he lives on the series. Happy release week, my friend!

  3. JJ sounded so sweet, and you were good to give him a loving home. I know you must really miss him.

  4. Our family Basset Hound, Raisin Lucille Ball, was the runt of the bunch and the story goes her mother gave birth to her on Easter morning while outside doing her morning duty. Poor Raisin fell to the hard frozen ground and ended on her head. Perhaps that explains why she was a little off. She was a sweet girl who wore a permanent mask and stole everyone’s hearts who got to know her. Maybe it was predestined but as it goes with Basset’s, her back gave out and she had to cross the Rainbow Bridge. We still miss her howling sonatas and her wiggling tail.

  5. My cat, Tommy, passed away two years ago. I had him for 17 years! I’m down to one cat now, but it’s still heartbreaking to lose a pet. On a positive note, Happy Release Day and I have both books on hold at the library! I can’t wait to read them!

  6. Liz, So sorry to hear the real JJ is no longer with you. I also base the cats in my books on real pets, past and present, but when Nefret (aka Lumpkin) died this spring I realized I couldn’t go on writing about him. He will appear in the 12th Liss MacCrimmon mystery this fall, since it was already written, but in the book I’m writing now Liss (and I) deal with his loss. It helps that both real and fictional cats lived to the ripe old age of 17, but I hope readers will understand my decision.

  7. Haunky was our daughter’s silver toy poodle that she got for her 5th birthday. She wanted a black poodle. Who knew at the time that you have to tell the real color of poodles by their eyes and not their fur? Seems that if their eyes are brown that they turn silver as they mature. Oh well, black or silver we loved him for 15 wonderful years – years full of precious memories.

    When our daughter died sudden at the age of 17, he was a living link to her. I honestly think he is what kept me sane in the months that followed. We ended up traveling 150 miles to a vet that was a diplomat in animal medicine so he would have the best medical care. We were interesting in quality and not quantity of life but wanted to keep him with us as long as possible. Three years later when it was evident that treating on thing caused another severe problem and vice versa, it became evident that he needed to cross the rainbow bridge. We helped him cross with loving kisses while being held. I know that Jenet was there to welcome him and that helped our heavy hearts in our grieving process – again.

    Gone but not forgotten!

  8. Oh, Liz, I remember when JJ passed. It was so unexpected. His alter ego is looking fine on the cover. What a lovely tribute!

    Jinx, Quiller, Pirate, Smokey, Elvis, Starlight, Fred, and Missy all live on for me in many ways. I’ll see them again at the rainbow bridge.

  9. Tears for Barbara’s loss and for all of us who truly feel her pain. My beloved old cat Blue crossed the rainbow bridge from his favorite chair on the patio one morning a few years back,quietly, without a fuss. We have his gray cat friend and companion, Shadow. She’s 12.Love knowing that
    Liz’s J.J. lives on in books–especially on the covers!

  10. Our cat, Thomas, spent a healthy 15 years with us after someone left him behind. He was a true Tom cat but was also a lover.
    Books, who can refuse?

  11. Congratulations, Liz. How wonderful that you can keep JJ’s memory alive in the books.

    I still fondly remember our dog, Casey. And his crooked toe. He died back in 2014.

    My friend Peter’s book launches tomorrow (I think it’s already out). I’ll miss th party because we’re celebrating my daughter’s (gulp) 18th birthday, but I’ve ordered the book and am looking forward to reading it.

  12. Knowing about JJ made reading this book extra special.

    Not heading to the bookstore for any new releases this week. Busy at work, and I’ve got almost all of them already anyway.

  13. Congrats, Liz! And so sorry about J.J., but glad you are keeping his memory alive in your books. We’ve had many kitties cross the rainbow bridge, some after many, many years, and some after way too short a time. They are all thought of daily – Baby Ruth, Pussington Le Chat (PLC), Sherlock, Kinky, Chloe, and Kaboodle. We still Agatha and Miss Marple with us.

    Many tears for all the good folks who have adopted needy kitties who have since cross that bridge. (((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))

  14. JJ looks very much like a rescue Maine Coon mix that lived with us for seventeen years. A feisty cat when he was challenged outside, Tigger twitched his bitten ear like a badge of battle. Inside, he was the gentlest cat I’ve ever known. He brought me ‘gifts’ while I recuperated from broken bones, loved to listen to hard rock in my son’s room, and purred so beautifully. Thinking of him brings a smile to my heart.

  15. What a lot of heart felt comments your post has prompted, Liz! It has been 11 years since my African Grey parrot, Miss Kim passed on and I still miss her most days. How lovely that your J.J. Lives on through your books. Maybe I will include an African Grey in a book one day as a similar comforting tribute.

  16. Thank you for giving Junkyard Johnny his forever home. I’m sorry the time you shared with so short but it was blessed by your loving care. It’s sweet to know the back story for his presence in your series. Cyberhugs!

  17. It’s hard to say goodbye to furbabies, but I know my life has been much richer with them in it.

  18. What a beautiful tribute! When I read your dedication in NetGalley, it hurt my heart, but your writing in this series shows every bit of love the two of you shared. I have had several cats over the years who were just…more special than others in their own way. Sproutie, who crossed the bridge 1/2 years ago – well, she and I rescued each other. Soon after, a very injured boy showed up in our carport. Handsome and hubby have had such a close bond! We had him more than 3 years before he came to love me, too, and during the worst recent months of his (and my) many health challenges, we rescued each other. Today I had to say goodbye for now. Not expected yet. Sorry to ramble. We have kitties here that I love so much, but…well…you get it. I hope that JJ and Handsome meet on their romps, and maybe one day I will write a story that honors Handsome even half as much as you are JJ. Thank you for sharing him with us!

  19. So wonderful that JJ will live on! So very sorry for your loss. There are too many that have gone, but left paw prints on my heart. The last one was probably the hardest. Rufus was not only my beloved dog, he was my service dog, my partner, my best buddy. He made it so I was able to do so many of the things I thought I would have to give up when I was diagnosed with m/s and had some issues. Even after his passing he brought me joy. I know in my heart that Rufus and my gentleman Sammie (a big sweetie that lived to be over 21 even though he was an over 80 pound dog) picked Tyler out for me and made it so we could rescue each other. Thank you for sharing your babies with us. Cant wait for my copy of your new release to arrive

  20. Aw…I love JJ. He’s the same age as our Kitty-baby (Kit-Kat) who will be 18 in December, and sounds a little like him. Sorry you lost him.

    Our dog, April, still lives on in my memory. She was our beloved German Shepherd and died 33 years ago. I miss her to this day.

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