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An Interview with Dan Leissner, Writer of Cool Cat

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2007

Dan Leissner on (re)Search my Trash


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Currently, you have your first work of fiction, the novel Cool Cat, coming out. Could you tell us in a few words what it's about ?


Well, hereís a synopsis: Catherine Cat Warburton is the black sheep of a rich and powerful family, living on the West Coast. Blonde and beautiful, her interests are Soul music, guns and fast cars. When she is not hanging out at the beach, Cat goes undercover for a highly secret private agency, as a daring crime fighter.

The scene shifts swiftly: from the riot-torn ghetto to glittering yachts and penthouses; from steamy discos to lonely motel rooms and small-town bars; the endless highway and the baking desert.

After a close encounter with a gang of drug pushers, the Agency orders Cat to take a vacation. She takes off down Route 66, into the desert, intending to find rest and recreation with her rich Uncle and his hippy colony.

Catís holiday turns into a nightmare. A weird, way-out roller-coaster ride of strange excitements, peril and adventure. Her lurid escapades escalate at a blistering pace, asĖĖaided and abetted by Soul Sister Selena and the exotic AikoĖĖshe tackles rednecks and Black Militants; pimps and pushers; crooked cops; secret armies; and an invasion from Outer Space!


... and the million Dollar question, where can we get your book ?


As itís only just been published, the book isnít available on Amazon yet (there are references on Amazon UK and elsewhere to an abortive first attempt at publication, but please ignore those, Iím trying to get them deleted). But you can order Cool Cat direct from the publishers, Midnight Marquee Press (based in Baltimore) Ė Anyone interested in movie books and especially Horror/Exploitation should really take a look at their list.


You once said you wrote the book not as a novel but as a movie. Could you explain that ?


The inspiration for Cool Cat is those great exploitation pics of the 60ís and 70ís. So as I was writing it, I never thought of it as a book. I always saw it as a movie and not a book. I tried to pace it like a movie, and cut from scene to scene like a movie. As far as I was concerned, I was making a movie.


You want your book to be seen as a genuine piece of pulp fiction rather than a hommage to or clever rethinking of pulp fiction. Why ?


Pulp/Exploitation is becoming trendy again, in print and especially in the cinema. There have been some excellent films, but all that Iíve seen or read has been either a modern take on the genre, in a retro, modern or futuristic setting; or if staged in a period setting has been a mere hommage, diluted by modern sensibilities and sensitivities.

I tried to be different. With Cool Cat what I set out to do was to create a genuine Pulp/Exploitation action-adventure, not a modern take or hommage. When I sat down and wrote it I imagined that I was sitting at my typewriter back in The Day, writing it in, say, 1970, not 2007. I wanted it to be one of the movies that used to thrill me as a teenager.


You seem to be especially influenced by exploitation cinema from around 1970. What's your fascination with films from that era ?


Itís because they were fun. They were made by people who were having fun and wanted other people to have fun. It was entertainment. It was crazy and it didnít care.

I havenít specified exactly when Cool Cat takes place because I wanted to weave together elements that typify both the 60ís and the 70ís, like hippies and disco. So I kind of settled for 1970 because it comes in the middle. Also, 1970 was an interesting time; the 60ís dream was beginning to fade and its darker side was emerging. And 1970 was a great year for me. I was 15 and had a lot of fun in 1970.


Any favourite films from back then ?


Thatís impossible, there are so many. Itís not strictly Exploitation, but a formative moment in my youth was seeing the cinema trailer for Deadlier Than The Male Ė Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina, bikini-clad, as they emerged dripping wet from the sea, brandishing spear guns. That was 1966 and I was going on 12 and it was an image that made a huge impression on me. Bikini-clad, what a great phrase that is!

When I was writing Cool Cat I watched a lot of old blaxploitation movies, and gems like The Doll Squad. Pictures like Savage Sisters and Ebony Ivory & Jade provided me with the model for my three-girl crime-busting team: Cat the long cool blonde, Soul Sister Selena and the exotic Aiko.


What about literature ? Any writers and/or books that influenced you when writing Cool Cat?


Those menís adventure magazines from the 60ís, such as All Man, Manís Action and Manís Story. While I was writing Cool Cat I got into the groove by reading a series of old paperbacks from the 70ís by Glen Chase, featuring Cherry Delight (the ďSexecutionerĒ), agent from N.Y.M.P.H.O. In my youth, my literary hero was Ray Bradbury, but Iím not worthy Ö


What are your thoughts on the state of exploitation cinema nowadays?


Mixed feelings. Iím glad that itís still there, although as I mentioned earlier, when it comes to Exploitation I live in the past. I prefer to watch the old stuff if I can find it. Itís the real thing. Exploitation Classic, if you like.


Feeling lucky ?
Want to search for books by
Dan Leissner
yourself ?

The links below
will take you
just there !!!

Are there any current exploitation films that you really like and/or deplore?


Exploitation pics are all deplorable, thatís the fun of them. You know Exploitation ... when itís bad itís good Ö Kill Bill was great fun. Sin City was very impressive, the visuals were just incredible, the whole concept. I also like some of the modern Japanese gangster flicks, they inhabit a world of their own. Beat Takeshiís Boiling Point is a genuine masterpiece. Iím looking forward to seeing Grindhouse.


All time favourites?


Not so much the movies themselves, more my fond memories of those tantalising glimpses that set my impressionable young imagination on fire Ė Elke and Sylva in those splendid 1960ís bikinis; a film with Shirley Eaton called The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967) and the bare midriffs of her army of female assassins. That was the thing. It was forbidden fruit. In 1966/67 I was far too young to be allowed in to see those movies. In 1970 I was only 15. So all I had to go on was the cinema trailers and stills in movie magazines. Exploitation pics existed for me at that time only in imported Euro and U.S. film and horror magazines and those mags were like gold-dust. The movies were the stuff of myth and legend, which we talked about in the school playground, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the pictures in the magazines in the secrecy of our bedrooms.

And now, with Cool Cat, I get to make my own movie!


Thanks for the interview!






© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
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and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD