“Grandad Conrad” Celebrates a Catster’s Life


Today on Halloween, when the Celts used to say that the walls between the worlds are thin and spirits dance into the waking world, I bring to you a tale of a most amazing cat.

The Diary of Grandad Conrad, the Magnificent and Revolting grew out of one Catster’s grief and her desire to share the story of a beloved friend who changed her life.

The tale began long ago when a litter of kittens was born in a dark corner of a factory, where danger lurked around every corner. The little family had the good fortune of being discovered by a kind person who took them to a safe place and tried to find homes for them.

Meanwhile, Janet West had recently lost her kitten, Schwarzenegger, in a road accident. One of her friends gave her a kitten from that litter in an effort to help her get through her grief. She named the little guy Conrad after Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness.

“The [title of the book] somehow reflected what I was experiencing,” said Janet. “This wonderful, little tiny black life-form had come to me from the heart of the darkness; he emerged from it like a shining light in my sadness. So, Joseph Conrad he became.”

In 2008, Conrad (aka Raddy), now the leader of a little clowder of his own, joined Catster, along with his housemates Colin, Tambolina and Lillian.

Some time later, Conrad developed a tumor. The vet told Janet that he was too old for surgery and he probably had about a month to live.

Janet turned to her Catster friends for support. She joined The Old Furts Club and, with Conrad on her lap, she wrote a story every day to share with the group.

“When Conrad died and I stopped writing to the Olde Furts, they sent to me, with love, a transcript of what I had written,” Janet said. Those stories are the foundation of Grandad Conrad, The Magnificent and Revolting.

The stories have gone through a lot of changes and editing since then. As a writer with a couple of finished-but-never-sold books and half a dozen unfinished novels sitting on my computer’s hard drive, I can tell you from experience that the editing and polishing is the hardest part of the writing process.

Grandad Conrad is available for sale through Sundial Press. U.K. residents who buy a copy get free postage; for those of us living in other countries, there’s an international purchase and shipping option available, too.

After reading the excerpt posted at the website, I really want to get my hands on this novel. I’m delighted that international shipping is available, and I’m going to order a copy very soon.

By the way, if you’re on Facebook, check out Grandad Conrad’s page.

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