October 12, 2018

Claw the System

New York Times best-selling author Francesco Marculiano will be at CatCon signing books for fans at Vroman’s Bookstore Booth 620. Team CatCon had the great pleasure of chatting with Francesco about his latest book, Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising .

“Cats are done with humans’ crap. For too long they have put up with baby talk, the humiliation of holiday costumes, and the social injustice of being told, “No.” They will not sleep through this anymore. We humans have woken the beast, and in this book they have gathered together to reclaim their voice, loudly and repeatedly until we pay attention. Watch the uprising unfold, through anthems such as ‘Redefine Terms,’ ‘Accepted,’ ‘Decide,’ ‘A New Dawn,’ and ‘Just What Do You Think You’re Doing?’ Show support for your feline friends and try to understand why they’re so spitting mad.”


CatCon: Tell us a bit about Kiki and Leelo, the two kitties on your dedication page. Did they provide inspiration or just lay on your computer keyboard during the creative process for this catsterpiece?

Francesco Marculiano: Kiki and Leelo have full editorial control of all books, thanks to a contract that I don’t remember signing, with a signature that’s obviously not mine, and featuring a notary stamp that’s clearly a paw print dipped in whitefish and tuna, yet they claim is legally binding. But the truth is they inspire my every poem by being so inquisitive, so friendly, so loving, and I’m re-reading the contract right now and apparently they also own my apartment but only I have to pay the mortgage.


Kiki and Leelo


Thematically, this book is a bit different than its predecessors (including I Could Pee on This, I Knead My Mommy, and You Need More Sleep). Can you talk about that?

All of my books have had themes by chapters (with You Need More Sleep having an overall theme as an advice book by cats), but Claw the System is different in that it speaks to anyone who at times has felt frustrated or overwhelmed, powerless or ignored, who has a voice but feels as if no one is allowing them a platform to speak. And cats are the perfect authors to capture those feelings in their own unique ways, since like so, so many people they are intelligent, empathetic, and absolutely engaged yet sometimes can feel so small. But like people, cats can only be so quiet for so long before they rise up. And hey, the humans have done enough damage. It’s the cats’ turn now.



Have you ever thought of creating a bigger book – maybe something cats could lie on?

One day I do want to do a coffee table book of cats. More to the point, I want to do a cat coffee table book of all my failed/unused/unpublishable cat coffee table book ideas. You see, over the years I have taken a lot of photographs of a lot of cats around the world, so much so that people have said, “You know, if you had a proper job with an office and a regular schedule and typical adult responsibilities instead of those newspaper comics and poetry you do you wouldn’t be wandering around god knows where taking photos of cats who probably never had the chance to sign a proper release form.”



How and where did you find so many great photos to accentuate the sentiment of each poem?

Andrews McMeel gave me a tremendous freedom in selecting the photos for the book. Many are found through image services, where after looking through hundreds and hundreds of photos you once again fully grasp just how expressive and playful and spirited cats truly are. You can also go momentarily blind if you don’t take a break every 14 hours. Then once the final photos were agreed upon Art Director Diane Marsh put together an absolutely visually stunning layout. I know authors like parents always think their children are beautiful but I truly love every page Diane created (example below):



Do you have a favorite poem in this book?

My favorite poem always depends on where my head is or what I’m experiencing at that moment. Each poem answers some thought or concern or idea I have—or the cats give me while rapping my skull with their paws—and I keep writing until I believe I’ve covered everything I felt compelled to say or the cats have finally stopped typing “qh4gxncutvralhcvyvryalkxn” on my laptop just long enough for me to momentarily consider using that as the title of my book before I realize I should not make such decisions at 4 am.



Who is your favorite poet in history? 

Hands down Dorothy Parker. Her wit, language, and structure I see as the absolute ideal, which all shine through in such poems as Love Song.  Granted, it’s not something that should be read during the wedding vows, but then again “I Will Survive” always seemed like an odd choice to play at wedding receptions.

You participated in the very first CatCon back in 2015; will we see you again PURRhaps at the fifth anniFURsary in 2019?

Consider me there! Actually, consider me already there. That way when the usual huge CatCon crowds come I can say, “What took you so long?” Then they can say, “How did you break into the venue eight months early?” Then I can reveal I’ve eaten nothing but Rolos from the vending machine.

Where can one find this book? 

Online. In bookstores. At gift shops. In the woods should you come across a leprechaun who grants you three wishes and you’ve already used two of them up to get superpowers. Perhaps on your shelf after it goes on sale this October 16th. Wherever book are sold, discussed, considered or where I can place several copies before I’m kicked out.