Muesli is star of the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries!
Mochas, Mysteries & Meows interviews (the fictional) Muesli, during the launch of A Scone To Die For (Oxford Tearoom Mysteries ~ Book 1):
1) Welcome Muesli, thank you so much for chatting with me today! Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to spend time at Gemma’s tearoom?
Well, I’m a small grey tabby with a white chest and paws and big green eyes with black eyeliner all around – oh, and a little pink nose!
I’m a rescue kitty and I was adopted by a nice human named Fletcher who’s really good at baking yummies. And he works in Gemma’s tearoom, baking delicious English treats like scones with jam and clotted cream. But Fletcher is a very shy, quiet kind of human and he feels braver when he has me around, so Gemma was very nice and she said I could come with Fletcher to the tearoom every day as well!
Only… I’m not allowed in the kitchen or the dining room, because the grumpy man from the Food Safety Department said so – I have to stay in the little shop area. Meorrmph! But I want to be where all the people are! I’m a very sociable, smoochy kitty, you see – so I keep trying to escape. In fact, when the story starts in A Scone To Die For, I DID escape – shhh! Don’t tell anybody! – and I was scampering around under the tables, when Gemma saw me and tried to catch me… and then I ran towards that cranky American tourist who had been acting really weird… and… well, you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next!
2) What is a typical day like for you?
Well, every morning starts with a nice, big cat stretch! And then I have to meow loudly to remind Fletcher about my breakfast (humans are such forgetful creatures, you know!) – and then when my tummy is full, I settle down for a nice, long wash.
After that, I might stroll out into the garden and watch the birds for a bit. I live in the Cotswolds, which is a very beautiful part of England – full of rolling hills and quaint little villages with cobbled lanes and thatched cottages – and we are right on the outskirts of Oxford, which is a very famous, old university city. And there are all sorts of birds in the Cotswolds: skylarks and finches and thrushes and warblers… I love watching them flit about (and I’m only watching them, not trying to catch them – honest!)
And after that, I’ll go with Fletcher to the tearoom where I keep myself busy getting into mischief! Hee! Hee!
3) Tell us about your relationship with Gemma. It seems a bit complicated since she’s not really a cat purr-son.
Ooh, yes! Can you believe it – she actually prefers those stinky things called dogs? But I think I’m winning her over bit by bit. She gets a big smile now whenever she sees me and she knows where I like to be tickled under my chin and stroked along my back. I’ve been rubbing myself against her legs a lot too, so now she smells quite nice. And although Gemma doesn’t know it yet, I’m going to be a big help in solving mysteries with her in the future!
4) How did you come to be named after a breakfast cereal?
My name is actually from the real-life Muesli who inspired my character in the books. The real-life Muesli is owned by Hsin-Yi, who is the author of the books (she uses the initials of her first name on the covers because it’s a Chinese name and so a bit difficult to pronounce! So “H.Y. Hanna”). And the real-life Muesli got her name because Hsin-Yi & her husband had a Great Dane named Honey and a cat called Lemon as their very first pets. They got Honey and Lemon together as puppy and kitten and wanted a “pair name” – and they liked to name their pets after foods – so they thought of “honey & lemon” – you know, that hot drink you make when you have a cold and it makes you feel better?
And then, very sadly, Lemon died suddenly of cat flu when she was only 5 years old and that left only Honey on her own. So when Hsin-Yi & her husband felt ready to have a kitty again, they adopted the real-life Muesli from a rescue shelter – and they wanted a pair name that would go with “Honey” – so they thought: Honey and Milk? Honey and Oatmeal? Honey and Muesli… Yes! They decided they liked “Muesli” as it was a cute and unusual name, and went well with “Honey”!
Here are a couple of pictures of Honey and the real-life Muesli, as a kitten – a few weeks after she was adopted from the shelter:
5) Can you introduce us to the real life Muesli who inspired your character?
Well, we look exactly the same – although I think I’m a bit prettier! She’s a very talkative kitty and she’s also very smoochy – loves to cuddle and be near you. Because she grew up with a Great Dane, she learned to play really rough and enjoys roughhousing with Hsin-Yi, rolling on her back and wrestling and playing tag around the house. Muesli especially likes lying on her back and having a foot massage.
Hsin-Yi did a lot of training with Honey and they did something called “doggie dancing” (canine freestyle) which is a kind of dog sport, where the dog learns lots of clever tricks which are then put together in a routine to music. Muesli liked to join in with the clicker training that Hsin-Yi was doing with Honey and so she learned lots of tricks too! She will Sit” and lie “Down” on command, as well as “Hi-Five” (or “Hi-Paw” really!) and “Sit Pretty”. And she has very good Recall – she always comes when her name is called – even if she is far away in the garden. Honestly, I think she’s a bit TOO well-trained for a kitty… I mean, we wouldn’t want to give humans any ideas that cats actually do anything they’re told, do we?
Oh, but the real Muesli is very shy with strangers, so that’s one place where she’s really different from me. I don’t think she’d enjoy meeting lots of strangers in a tearoom every day or going out to solve mysteries… but that’s OK because she keeps Hsin-Yi company while Hsin-Yi is writing the books and helps her with the plotting – so she’s sort of solving mysteries too!
6) What kinds of trouble do you and Gemma get into in A Scone To Die For, the first Oxford Tearoom mystery?
Oh, Gemma gets into LOTS of trouble! First, she finds that strange American tourist dead in her tearoom – murdered by a scone! And then everybody in the village starts to think that it’s her fault – maybe even that the scones and other yummies in the tearoom might be dangerous – and so nobody wants to come to the tearoom anymore, which is a disaster for Gemma!
Because you see, she used up all her money to buy the tearoom and make it nice – and now she has to live back in her old home with her Mummy & Daddy, which makes her a bit crazy. So she really needs her tearoom to do well and get lots of customers… so that’s why she decided to do some snooping herself and try to find the murderer.
And Gemma is the purr-fect person to solve the mystery because she used to be a student in Oxford University many years ago and so she’s got special “insider knowledge”. Oh, and there are four little old ladies from the village who want to help solve the mystery too – they’re very nosy and they make lots of trouble for Gemma! As if she hasn’t got enough trouble already! You see, the CID detective who is investigating the murder is a very handsome male human called Devlin O’Connor and he was at college together with Gemma. I think they used to be very special to each other but something bad happened and they haven’t seen each other for years. And now, this is the first time they’re meeting again! Gemma says she doesn’t feel anything for Devlin anymore but – between you and me – I don’t think she’s telling the truth!
Oh, as for me… well, I got a terrible scare in the tearoom from that cranky American tourist and then… I did something which made all the humans very worried about me. Everybody was wondering if I would be OK… but don’t worry, you’ll find out at the end of the story!
7) Anything you can tell us about your upcoming adventures?
Oh yes! Well, Hsin-Yi has been very busy, you see, and she’s already written Book 2 of the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries. It’s called “Tea with Milk and Murder” and it’s out now already as well. So if you enjoy Book 1, you can dive straight into Book 2 – and boy, do I have some really exciting adventures in the second book! I’m sort of like the star of the book – hee! Hee! It’s a very intriguing poison murder mystery and Gemma would never have been able to solve it if it wasn’t for me and my (naughty!) antics. She does get herself in to a very sticky situation, though – but don’t worry, I just might save the day!
Thank you so much for having me – I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you!
(original interview on Mochas, Mysteries and Meows)