Launch Week Elements: Cats
Welcome to my launch week celebration! If you missed my other posts, you can find the links at the bottom of this page. Today, I’m writing about a new character in my novel: a feline.
I have never been a cat person—mainly because I am allergic. I’ve never met a dog who didn’t like me. Now cats—I’ve met some who insist on curling up on my lap until I sneeze. And to be honest, there’s nothing quite like that contented purring vibrating through my body as they sleep and keep me warm. But I’ve met others who hiss at me and even bite. During one of my house-hunting adventures, a cat darted out from a closet, jumped on the bed, and actually bit my arm. It didn’t draw blood, but it did scare me away from considering that house!
My earliest memory of a cat isn’t actually my own memory. It’s my mother telling me about a cat she had that she taught to play fetch: she had a little rubber ball, and she threw it up the stairs. Her cat would retrieve it and then chase it again. Strangely enough, this feline story actually made me want—you guessed it!—a dog. (A few years later, my begging resulted in a loveable little puppy.)
My next memory of cats—also doesn’t involve an actual cat. My parents had these salt and pepper shakers. They had these lids that lifted up in such a way that they looked somewhat like mouths (at least, they looked like mouths to an imaginative young girl). While waiting for dinner many nights, my sister and I played with the salt and pepper shakers, imagining that the pristine white salt was a cat and the speckled and aromatic pepper was a dog. My sister’s picky personality (which was somewhat cat-like during those early years) implanted itself onto that salt shaker, and I actually found myself slightly resentful of cats (again, without ever knowing one!). This was compounded by my mother explaining to us the truth about cats and dogs. My sister insisted that cats were really nice and sweet, and dogs were rough and mean. My mother told us that cats and dogs are all different. She did scare me by saying that a cat’s tongue is rough whereas a dog’s tongue is soft. I felt a little resentful—that cats could lure us in with their cute looks and then scratch us with their rough sandpaper tongues!
You might guess that my third memory of a cat doesn’t actually have to do with a cat, either. My sister had this beloved Halloween stuffed cat. I’m pretty sure it was named Blackie. She seemed to take it everywhere with her so that its fur looked well-worn by the end. Although I didn’t have any problem with her stuffed toy, and I did quite enjoy Halloween and the mystery surrounding black cats in October, my sister’s love of that cat pushed me to be different, to associate myself more with dogs than cats. If cats were going to be her identity, then dogs were going to be mine, dog-gone-it!
So you see, before I even got to have a real experience with a cat, I was already a dog lover.
When I finally did get to interact with cats—mostly babysitting—I found myself perplexed. Dogs get excited by all manner of words. Cookie, walk, leash, food, water—these words all seem to bring out a smile on a dog. But talking to a cat to me is like talking to an alien. With no eye contact and no reaction, I’m not sure cats even are about what I’m saying, let alone understand a word of it.
It was my own inability to communicate with cats that inspired me to add a feline to Corgi Capers 3. I knew at once that the best character to communicate with the cat would be tiny and wild Sapphie. With her inability to focus, Sapphie has her own communication problems. But we all have talents, and Sapphie’s just haven’t been discovered yet. When Zeph is terrified and perplexed by the strange mewing of the cat, Sapphie jumps right in with the ability to understand and empathize (in her own hilarious way, of course).
Drawn out to larger themes in the novel, I hoped to emphasize that we all have our own talents and—as the cliché goes—it takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round. I try to take time to understand multiple perspectives and see the world through other eyes just as my characters have done. I challenge you today to look at the world from a different perspective and see what inspiration may come your way.
Corgi Capers Book 3 Giveaway
Sign up to follow this blog via email (sign-up is toward the upper-right), and at the end of the week, I’ll randomly select a winner to receive a free copy of Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls. Haven’t read the first two? The winner can choose one of the other Corgi Capers books instead.
Winner will be chosen on or shortly after November 17, 2014. The prize will be the winner’s choice of Corgi Capers 1, 2, or 3. Paperback copy available only to U.S. addresses. International winners will receive choice of ebook version instead. Void where prohibited.
I’ve already blogged about the winners of the Name that Cat contest and about the inspiration of one of the winning names. Being inspired to enjoy life is a constant theme in Corgi Capers, as Zeph (inspired by my own fraidy-dog Yoda) is afraid of most things. Many characters learn to find the heart of a hero beating within. Curious to learn more? You can view the trailer here. I’m pleased to be working with Yuming Cao to bring this bravery to life through illustration, and this illustrated corgi book will also be available soon.