The Author Interviews. This week: Catherine ‘Cat’ Fox, the agent responsible for the Kalbrandt Institute archives file F/44197/FCT as featured in Book I: Hauntings.
When I meet Cat Fox outside the café, her long black hair and ditto leather coat make her instantly recognisable. She arrived just before I did, she says, and quickly finishes her cigarette before we head inside. I ask her what she wants to drink.
“Just a quick coffee,” she says. “Black, one sugar. I’m off to the airport in half an hour. Catch my flight to Montreal. They called me in to investigate a haunted office building.” She doesn’t know much more than that. “The less I know, the more accurate my work,” she explains. “That’s why I make it a point not to be briefed beyond the absolute essentials.”
While we wait at a corner table for our order, I launch my first question.
You’re a psychic at the Kalbrandt Institute. How did you end up there?
“Like most agents, I was scouted. Sometimes people are made an offer to join based on their credentials in their field, but for psychics, it’s really a matter of being spotted. All psychic agents keep their eyes open for kindred spirits, so to speak. Sometimes when we work, we come across people with abilities that might be valuable to the Institute. We call that in, and one of the scouts goes to find out if they are interested. I was, so I sighed up.”
A job for life that some would say is suffocating.
“Look at me,” she scoffs, gesturing at her remarkable clothes and make-up. “If I wanted a regular job, I’d have to conform to the company standards. Hide myself. I’m not exactly college material, either, so it was either working two miserable jobs to make ends meet, or make good money doing something I’m actually good at.”
Far braver than I, she sips her still-scalding coffee.
“Given a choice between those options – and I was lucky to have that choice – I’ll gladly put up with the weirdness that goes on at the Institute.”
Speaking of weirdness: a lot of people think psychics are either frauds or have super powers. How do you feel about that?
“Superheroes we’re not,” she laughs around the rim of her cup. “But I get where it comes from. I mean, I connect with spiritual energy. I can talk to a building like I talk to you. Except when I ask you a question, everyone else can hear you reply.”
And buildings don’t talk back.
“They do! Only no one else hears it. So yeah, that makes it hard to prove that what I do is real. I constantly have to convince clients that, yes, I’m doing what they paid for. But I can’t prove it. Sometimes physical evidence will corroborate what the energy tells me, but most of the time that’s tenuous at best. Few ghosts manifest like they do in the movies, where the heroes get to see the ghost leave or whatever. It doesn’t work like that in real life.” She shrugs. “Well, I suppose on occasion it does, but I’m the only one who sees it.”
Do you train for your work?
“As in, practice in a controlled environment? Not possible. Like all spiritual energy, ghosts can’t be harnessed. So you learn on the job. The first few years, I always worked cases together with another psychic.”
Like an apprenticeship?
“Not really. More like how you learn to drive a car with the instructor sitting beside you.” She pulls out her smartphone to check the time. “I’ll need to go grab a taxi in a minute. One more question for the road?”
Sure: ever thought to give up smoking?
“Never seriously,” she says with a smirk. “I’ve seen too much crap to stay sane without being addicted to something. All things considered, smoking is the lesser evil.”
She slams down the rest of the coffee. “Sorry to run like this, but that flight won’t wait. Thanks for the chat. Call me if you want to do a follow up some time, okay?”
And with that she’s out the door. Through the cafe window, I watch her hail a cab, her long coat trailing behind her as if she is a superhero after all.
If you have any follow-up questions for Cat or her colleagues, leave a comment or drop me a line in the email!