Clea Simon, author of the Theda Krakow mysteries, including Cries and Whiskers, has given me a couple copies of it to give as prizes in the contest that will start on Thursday. She was kind enough to send a note as well.
What is the deal with women and cats? Or, I guess I should be specific and own up to my own foibles, with me and cats? I figure since you’re reading this -- and since Lesa has been so kind as to include me and my latest book, “Cries and Whiskers,” in her blog, I should address the big issues.
For starters, I’ve got to say I’m not anti-dog. Several of my close friends have dogs; one has Irish wolfhounds, two of ‘em, which are larger than she is (though not, I hasten to add, larger than me. Vicki’s quite petite.) Nor do I have anything against men and cats. Many men love cats – the best men I know love cats (and I include my husband Jon in that category). But I’m a woman who loves cats, and now I’m a mystery writer who writes about women and their cats. So it’s only fair to ask: What gives?
Well, I could say it is simply a time-honored tradition. Long before Lilian Jackson Braun, women and cats were linked through history and mythology. I could cite references to Bast (the great Egyptian goddess who not only controlled the flooding of the Nile but also the making of paper and the brewing of beer – begin to see a connection?) and to Freya (who flew through the air on a sleigh drawn by cats). I could talk about witches and familiars, and, well... you get the idea.
Or I could get contemporary and refer you to the real female-feline issues that intrigue me. Because there are some strange connections. Did you know, for example, that most cat hoarders (you know, “crazy cat people”) are in fact women? That’s one reason the victim in my first mystery, “Mew is for Murder,” is an old lady who lives alone with a bunch of cats. But, on the flip side, the vast majority of people who do rescue work – like several of the characters in my new mystery, “Cries and Whiskers” – are women, too. These connections are fascinating to me, and they are why I put at least one in each of my Theda Krakow mysteries. How can two species be so in tune? How many ways can we humans and these semi-domesticated little tigers interact? There’s material here for decades to come.
But to get down to the truth, sometimes I think I write mysteries with cats in them because I love the diminutive beasts. Simply put, cats are wonderful companions for writers. I’ve lived with all sorts of animals. At one point, I had a pet toad. He was named Dyatt. But there’s something about a purring cat that’s conducive to writing. My current feline companion, Musetta, is quite the task mistress. True to her name, “little muse,” she inspires me with both her grace and her clumsy kittenish antics. She’s as prone to sliding off a pillow as she is to gracefully “cat walk” along a sill. On cold days, when my home office gets chilly, she leans up against my legs and warms me more than even my fuzziest slippers. And whenever I’m ready to call it a day, to let some scene resolve itself – she invariably lies across my toes and falls asleep. And how can I disturb a sleeping cat? Instead, I write a little longer. I re-read what I’ve already written. I stay at my desk for just enough time to let me finish off that section – and for Musetta to finish her nap.
So if cats fascinate you, whether you have a real feline in your life or not, I hope you’ll find something in my books to make you purr. And if they don’t, perhaps one of my books will take you for a walk on the wild side – and open you up to a feline future!
Thanks so much for joining me today. And thank you, too, to Lesa, for hosting such marvelous contests and blogs.