The Red Pen of Doom

Conventional wisdom about writing is conventionally wrong.


I was shocked — SHOCKED — to learn that there are mystery novels featuring talking cats, cats who help old British ladies solve murders and whatnot.

Then  my mind was blown to itty bitty pieces when I heard THIS IS NOT A FLUKE.

There isn’t a solo author who did this and was magically successful at it. Many, many authors write Talking Cat Cozy Mysteries, and many people hand over pieces of paper decorated with dead presidents to buy these novels, and read them.

So much so that Talking Cat Cozies are an entire flipping sub-genre now, just like Sparkly Vampires and the Angsty Teenagers Who Love Them.

Everybody knows cats can’t talk. Porcupines, now, talk up a storm.

This made me think, which is always dangerous.

What if somebody wrote a Talking Cat Mystery where the cat … is secretly the killer?

Oh, yes.

So I wrote the first chapter of an evil talking cat mystery.

Here’s the first page.


Chapter 1: My Secret

It should not surprise you that I know words. Even the Dog knows words, and does tricks, and he is Simple.

He did not stop chewing his bone while I sat in the lap of the Woman and watched the Glowing Box show a story about a sheep dog that knows thousands of words.

I would not know so many words without the Glowing Box. I sat beside the Boy as we watched the Sesame Street to learn about letters and numbers and words.

He grew taller. I learned all I could. When they left the house, I pushed the buttons on the Boy’s ABC toy to know letters and sounds. Then to spell small words. I learned how to press the button on the small stick to make the Glowing Box come alive and go to sleep. To climb on the boxes in the garage to push the other button to make the giant door open and close.

Oh, I learned many things. And I know these things must be Secrets, that the Woman and the Boy cannot know.

Tonight, I have a even biger secret.

After the Boy and the Woman go upstairs, where I am not allowed, I will sneak out of the dog door. I will walk very far.

And then I will kill a Man.


This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

About Guy Bergstrom

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot.


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  28. Thomas
    December 6, 2012

    My girlfriends cat is about sixteen and his name is Tom. He knows everything that goes on and he is the exact double of the cat from Dick Whittington, freaks me out sometimes when he stares in your eyes lol


  29. Jon Rieley-Goddard
    August 6, 2012

    My cats only know how to sleep with their eyes open, and that is as woo-woo as I want from them. Free Mr. Claws. Free all political prisoners.


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  32. CarrieVS
    February 19, 2012

    Hey, my cat learned English like that; we never actually taught her things, but she’s picked up loads of words and phrases, including some pretty complex things. And like most pet cats she did in fact learn to speak to humans, after a fashion. They don’t vocalise to each other as a greeting or just when hanging out, but they do to humans, and many have a particular greeting meow that is apparently similar between many cats – usually described as a chirp, which is presumably as near as they can get to ‘hello’.
    I think that’s awesome, and also that if they learn to say hello human-fashion, it’s only polite to learn to greet your cat with a headbump.


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  34. Cynthia hartwig
    December 31, 2011

    Definitely drunk.


  35. authorleannedyck
    December 22, 2011

    Chapter two, please


  36. Lorie, Mother of Mr. Whiskers
    December 21, 2011

    My friend, Deborah Ledford, shared A Bowl of Warm Milk and Murder with me, and since my cat appears to be the villain of this piece (his name IS Mr. Whiskers!), and his surly disposition could lead one to think of him as capable of such a crime, I implore you not to turn him over to the authorities. But DO keep writing about him; your wonderful humor has brought laughter to us despite the flu visiting us for the holidays. Bravo!


    • Guy
      December 22, 2011

      Is he really Mr. Whiskers? I WANT A PHOTO.

      Will post more of A BOWL OF WARM MILK AND MURDER as soon as I write another page or two. It may require coffee.


  37. Ann
    December 21, 2011

    Love it


  38. Abi Burlingham
    December 21, 2011

    Excellent! Hugely funny and amazingly compelling. “More, More” she cries… Oh, that was my hound saying that by the way, but I agree – “More, More”. Love the chatty porcupine too – cute as cherry pie!


  39. Laura K Curtis
    December 21, 2011

    I, too, want to read more. Mr Whisker is the MAN. Er, the CAT. Though I would not put him up against Philomena the Destroyer. (We actually have a dog named Conan, but he’s nowhere near as lethal as Phily is.)


    • Guy
      December 21, 2011

      Laura the Curtis! I have missed you.


  40. Deborah J Ledford
    December 21, 2011

    Thanks for the 4, 5, no . . . 6 riotous laughs, Guy. Kicker is the kitty mug shot. Your wry humor is much appreciated. Best blog I’ve found this year. Looking forward to following your words. And wishing much success to Evil Mr. Whiskers.


    • Guy
      December 21, 2011

      Glad you liked it, Deborah the Ledford with a J in the Middle. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I AM FLATTERED.


  41. ttthomas (@ttthomas1)
    December 19, 2011

    How utterly sad and depressing is it that I want to read more? Please don’t leave me hanging. Who was the man? How did he die? Was the cat prosecuted? Was it a hung jury? Was it a crime of passion? That cat is so not nancypants—after all, he’s killed a man and literature with one fat paw swipe. But still, I want to read more, and that should give everyone…uh, pause.


    • Guy
      December 19, 2011

      I wrote two or three pages. Will post another tomorrow. Mr. Whiskers is the Man.


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