I’m a cat person. I just seem to have been born that way. Some of my first memories are of the family cat, a big gray tabby named Tiger. I wanted desperately to win his affection and can vividly remember inflicting upon him kisses, hugs, and vast quantities of unsolicited loves. As you might imagine, this did little to impress him. My sister, who was older than me – and therefore gentler – was Tiger’s favorite, but I loved him anyway. I just love cats. I always have.
When I first started writing at about the age of eight, I even put cats in my stories. Lots of them. In fact, my tales most often revolved around unmanageably large casts of talking cats, so it wasn’t too surprising that when I got published many years later, cats began showing up in my novels.
Enter Sir Purrcival, star (or so he likes to believe) of the Vampires of Crimson Cove series. He makes his first appearance in book one, The Crimson Corset, when Cade Colter and his older brother Brooks are out for a jog in the woods behind their cabin. I didn’t plan to put a cat in the book, he just kind of showed up, and I’m glad he did – later, Purrcy’s presence helps bring things together so that Cade and company can confront the bad guys.
I described Purrcy as a chubby tuxedo cat with golden-green eyes, and I had no idea that a couple years later, I would meet him in the real world. I was looking for a friend for Pawpurrazzi, the female tortie who showed up at my house a few months before and decided we belonged together. Pawpurrazzi is a very affectionate and friendly cat and I thought she might like some feline company – so I began checking out the local Humane Societies. I didn’t have to look far. I found him at the first place I stopped. He looked just like the Purrcy from The Crimson Corset and I knew right away that’s who I’d name him after (of course, I don’t tell him that. I tell him that the fictional Purrcy is named after him, not the other way around.)
I soon found out I’m not the only writer besotted by felines. Not only do the vast majority of my writer friends own cats, but apparently, cats and writers have a long history together. Margaret Atwood, Gloria Steinem, Joyce Carol Oates, and Neil Gaiman are all said to be cat lovers. Not to mention Dickens, Twain, Burroughs, Hemingway, Chandler, Capote, Churchill, Plath, and Poe, all of whom famously claimed a deep appreciation of their feline familiars.
From Kerouac to King, cats seem to be a writer thing, and I’m not sure how to explain it. It’s not as if they help the writing process. Ask any author who owns cats and they’ll tell you how Muffin or Fluffy or Jezebel just loves to nap right on the keyboard.
Or maybe cats do help writers write in some mysterious way. Maybe there’s more to them than meets the eye. Maybe the ancient Egyptians were onto something, after all …
If nothing else, they provide excellent distraction. When Tamara and I are writing together on Skype, our kitties love nothing more than when we turn on our cameras so they can see and talk to each other. It gives us a nice excuse to spend a few minutes relaxing between chapters.