I suppose it was inevitable that I should end up writing a series with a cat as in important secondary character. (As I compose this blog, Toby, pictured above, is wailing at me like he's been abandoned in the Sahara after not having eaten for three months. A few rubs on the head quieten him momentarily.) We had cats when I was a child growing up on a farm in Mississippi, but after a while there were no more cats, only dogs.
I considered myself a dog person for years, until a fateful day in 1994 when a friend convinced me to give a home to a five-month-old furball named Marlowe (named for the playwright, not the detective). She was a dear little thing who immediately bonded with me, and I lost my heart, utterly and completely. Soon I had to get her a companion, because she talked my ears off every evening when I came home from work, telling me how bored she was all day by herself. Thus entered Booboo, the sweetest, most laid-back cat I ever knew. The Diva and the Lovebug, I called them. They were with me for seventeen years.
Now I have Pippa and Toby, both rescues, who came to me when they were already a year old, unlike Marlowe and Booboo. Pippa (another Diva) and Toby (another Lovebug) have been with me for almost eight months now, and I'm relearning what it's like to have kittens in the house. (Lack of sleep is what it boils down to, because Pippa, my crazy Calico, is relentlessly active during the night.)
Back in 2009, when my editor suggested I consider a series about a librarian and a cat, I thought "why not?" I'm a librarian, and I have cats. So I started work on what eventually became the first book in the series, Murder Past Due.This book, my fifteenth published novel, accomplished something no other book of mine had ever done -- it hit the extended New York Times bestseller list.
And if you're thinking I should bless my editor and shower her with gifts, you'd be right. I'm writing a series about characters (including a Maine Coon cat) that I love, and the readers are giving me the love back a thousand times over. Mystery readers (myself included) are crazy about their feline (and canine) friends, and watching the antics over the years of my feline companions has given me plenty of ideas.
Now I have to pay attention to Toby again, because I've neglected him for all of seven or eight minutes...