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About Barbara Stretton
Author & Illustrator
of the Tori Trotter series

I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 23, 1936 where I was abandoned at the LDS hospital until July 11 when my parents adopted me and brought me home. Being adopted has always been an important part of who I am. If I were to name a theme of my life, I'd say it was a "search for identity."

It's probably because of this that I've always felt a kinship with animals who need to be adopted as I was. As a child, I had no pets. My mother felt dogs were too much work and she didn't like cats. But as an adult, I began to have cats—first a kitten named Ping, followed by Topaz, then Zephyr, then Muffy, then Bandit, then Kit-Kit, then Misty, then Simba, then Sam, then Tori, then Zoë, then Socks, then Chloe, then Rufus, My husband Guy and I currently have six cats, Katie, Sheba, Kerry, Ramses, Missy, and Samantha.

All my life I've been a writer. As a child I wrote little books, illustrated them myself, made cardboard covers, tied them up with string and dreamed of someday being published. I still have one of these about a little squirrel searching for a home. The theme of the search is still with me. My first novel, A Deeper Season, was published in 1987 by Fawcett as an original paperback. This was followed by two other novels published by Knopf, You Never Lose and The Truth of the Matter.

When I wrote my first novel, I thought of it as for adults, but my agent realized it fit into a new category, Young Adult, as did the other two. Then I hit a dry spell. I was writing, but not getting accepted. Much later I learned that for a time the young adult field had dried up. I was a teacher and school librarian for twenty years, and also wrote teacher's guides for Listening Library, as well as doing corporate writing. But my love of writing children's books persisted.

When, I was assigned to write a guide for Bruce Hale's first Chet Gecko book, I was struck by the hardboiled detective's voice and said to myself, "I can do that. But my detective would be a cat." Thus was born Tori Trotter, Cat of Mystery. After trying to once again crack the publishing world, I decided to form my own publishing company, RiverCat Press, and publish my Tori Trotter books myself. This gave me a lot more freedom. For one thing, I could illustrate them myself. It also gave me control over every aspect of the book. I had a lot of help from Michael Pastore (Zorbapress.com) who edits and typesets for me.

Of course, this means getting out there in schools and the community talking about my books and about writing. And that's what I love to do. I love to meet kids and adults who love cats, mysteries, and reading. When I'm not writing I'm drawing and painting—mostly cats and other animals.