Simon, Clea 1961–

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Simon, Clea 1961–

PERSONAL:

Born July 27, 1961, in NY; married Jon S. Garelick (a journalist). Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1983.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Author and journalist.

MEMBER:

Cat Writers' Association.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Association for the Mentally Ill book of the year, 1997, for Mad House; Muse Medallion for best fiction book and President's Award, Cat Writers' Association, both 2005, both for Mew Is for Murder.

WRITINGS:

(With Brett Milano) Boston Rock Trivia, Quinlan Press (Boston, MA), 1985.

Mad House: Growing up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1997.

Fatherless Women: How We Change after We Lose Our Dads, Wiley (New York, NY), 2001.

The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection between Women and Cats, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Author of "Radio Tracks" column for Boston Globe. Contributor of articles to the New York Times, Boston Phoenix, American Prospect, Ms. Magazine, and Salon.com.

"THEDA KRAKOW" MYSTERY SERIES

Mew Is for Murder, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2005.

Cattery Row, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Clea Simon, the author of several books of nonfiction as well as the novels in the "Theda Krakow" mystery series, is also a journalist in both the print and electronic media. Her first book, Mad House: Growing up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings, was published in 1997. It is the account of the author's own childhood years with her elder siblings, both of whom suffered from schizophrenia. In addition to her personal experience, Simon has, through research and interviews with individuals with similar family histories, identified the shared effects and concerns of these individuals. As a result of her investigation and reflection on her own experience, Simon concludes that the effects are considerable. She framed the experience with these words, quoted in Chicago's Tribune Books: "As siblings who have watched our brothers or sisters ‘go mad,’ who lost our peers to psychosis, we share a unique experience: Our brothers and sisters are the ones we were supposed to have played with, learned to get along with, emulated if they were older or taken care of if they were younger, the people with whom we should have navigated the shoals of growing up. But instead they broke down." The author points out that current research has shown that there is a strong genetic component to schizophrenia. Questions about their own mental stability, as well as concerns about the possibility of passing this condition along to their children are always present issues for siblings of the mentally ill. Simon's research also discovered that the healthy siblings often have a profound mistrust of medication and therapy as tools to relieve the effects of the illness for themselves. Critics have praised the book, noting that Simon has made an important contribution to the understanding of schizophrenia and its effect on families.

Because of a continuing interest in the exploration of relationships, Simon published Fatherless Women: How We Change after We Lose Our Dads. She describes the nature of the father/daughter bond, its development through childhood and into adulthood. The focus of the book is, primarily, on adult women who have lost their fathers. Simon makes the point that more than half of the women in the United States under the age of fifty will lose their fathers, and that this loss will take place long before they lose their mothers. The lives of women who have lost their fathers are thoroughly examined; however, the eighteen-month period after the father's death generally defines the time frame for the book. Kay Brodie, in her review for the Library Journal, favorably noted the attention Simon gives to the description of the complex father/daughter relationship. Through the mining of her own experience with paternal loss, interviews and conversations with women, plus research, Simon describes the alterations that are likely to occur. Changes in relationships with other family members, review of life goals and recognition of the importance of the father/daughter bond, are all common products of the reflection after the father's death.

Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection between Women and Cats continues the theme of relationships and adds a feminist critique of culture. "I traced a lot of the cat-women stories back and discussed ancient mythologies that link women and cats, religious links, [and] folktales," Simon remarked in an interview with Julia Buckley on the Mysterious Musings Blog. "I also interviewed a ton of women who have cats or work with cats, and basically I focused on what a positive connection this is. We love cats and cats complete us in some way." Reviewing Feline Mystique in Kirkus Reviews, a critic found the book to be "wide-ranging and perfectly pitched: both sensitive and sensible."

In 2005 Simon published her debut novel, a mystery titled Mew Is for Murder. Set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the work follows the adventures of Theda Krakow, a music-loving freelance writer who needs a lift following the breakup of a relationship and the death of her beloved cat. Theda then meets Lillian Helmhold, an elderly neighbor with a houseful of felines, and believes she has discovered one of the "crazy cat ladies" of urban legend. When Theda returns to interview Lillian, she finds the old woman dead and decides to care for the now-homeless cats with the help of Violet, a punk-rocker who believes that Lillian was murdered. "The best thing going for Simon's story is the character of Theda, a pleasant, intelligent woman who easily gains the reader's interest and empathy," noted David J. Montgomery on the Mystery Ink Web site. In Cattery Row, Theda investigates a series of feline thefts after cat-breeder Rose Keller is murdered. "With its well-developed cast of characters and a multilayered plot," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer, Cattery Row "is the cat's meow."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Behavioral Health Treatment, May, 1997, review of Mad House: Growing up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings, p. 6.

Booklist, March 1, 1997, Whitney Scott, review of Mad House, p. 1095; July, 2002, Carol Haggas, review of If Only They Could Speak: Stories about Pets and Their People, p. 1806; July, 2005, Jenny McLarin, review of Mew Is for Murder, p. 1906.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2002, review of Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection between Women and Cats, p. 793; May 1, 2005, review of Mew Is for Murder, p. 515.

Library Journal, April 15, 1997, Antoinette Brinkman, review of Mad House, p. 101; September 15, 2001, Kay Brodie, review of Fatherless Women: How We Change after We Lose Our Dads, p. 99.

Publishers Weekly, January 6, 1997, review of Mad House, p. 54; June 13, 2005, review of Mew Is for Murder, p. 35; August 29, 2006, review of Cattery Row, p. 35.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 27, 1997, Carolyn Alessio, review of Mad House, p. 3.

ONLINE

Clea Simon Home Page,http://www.cleasimon.com (April 15, 2007).

Cruse 'n with Lonnie Blog,http://lonniecruse.blogspot.com/ (December 5, 2006), Lonnie Cruse, "Interview with Author Clea Simon."

MyShelf.com,http://www.myshelf.com (April 15, 2007), review of Cattery Row.

Mysterious Musings Blog,http://juliabuckley.blogspot.com/ (July 11, 2006), Julia Buckley, "Interview: Author Clea Simon Chats about Cats, Cambridge and Coffee Shops."

Mystery Ink,http://www.mysteryinkonline.com/ (September, 2005), David J. Montgomery, review of Mew Is for Murder.