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Best-selling author Rita Mae Brown, pictured here in 1993, is know for her "Sister" Jane and Mrs. Murphy mystery series. (AP)

This Election Season, Vote 'Sneaky Pie For President'

by NPR Staff
Aug 10, 2012 (Weekend Edition Sunday)

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There are many election-related books you could choose to help you endure the final months of the presidential race, from desk-pounding policy proposals to thick, shelf-crushing biographies.

Or, you could turn to Sneaky Pie.

Now, full disclosure, Sneaky Pie is a cat, and she's usually solving mysteries as the main character in Rita Mae Brown's bestselling Mrs. Murphy series.

Brown is the author of almost 40 books, many of which feature animal protagonists. She's also written several standalone novels, including the groundbreaking lesbian novel, Ruby Fruit Jungle.

She's also known as a political activist, devoted to civil rights, gay liberation and women's issues. In the 1960s, she had a famous run-in with the grand dame of second-wave feminism, Betty Friedan, over her exclusion of lesbians from the movement.

Rita Mae Brown talked with Weekend Edition Sunday guest host Linda Wertheimer about her latest book and her affinity for animals.


Interview Highlights

On why she likes writing about animals

"We share the Earth with them, and they have so many qualities superior to our own. For instance, a hound can smell time. There's no way any of us can do that. If you put your dog out in an acre, that dog would know who was on that acre ... maybe up to three days' time. If we put four cameras on every corner, we would still never know what that dog knows."

On why Sneaky Pie runs for president

"She meets other animals and discovers that the water supply is being both polluted and drained [and] the Earth is being played out. And that means all animals will die, not just humans. She realizes that we need the voices of other creatures [and] not just human beings."

On why she cares for animals

"I do a lot of rescue work and it is the joy of my life. All of those years in politics, I never got the satisfaction I got out of helping another living creature."

On what books influenced her writing

"I was a classics major, so for me it was the plays of Aristophanes. In the fifth century B.C. in Athens, in the midst of a devastating war that ultimately destroyed Athens, he had the courage to write these screamingly funny plays against the power structure. That was the person who inspired me."

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