Molly MacRae is the author of the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries, available in mass market paperback, e-book, and audio. Dyeing Wishes, second in the series, comes out July 2, 2013 and is available for pre-order.
Cats and cozy mysteries go together like cat fur on black pants. They’re seemingly inseparable. That makes writing cozy mysteries a good fit for me, because my life has been full of cats. I wouldn’t say I’m gaga over cats.
I’m not like Mrs. C.L. Footloose who seeks advice from James Thurber’s Pet Department. Under a drawing of cats swarming a living room, she writes, “We have cats the way most people have mice,” and receives the answer, “I see you have. I can’t tell from your communication, however, whether you wish advice or are just boasting.”
My life isn’t quite like Mrs. C.L.’s. We don’t usually have more than one or two cats at a time. (Except for the time we had six and at that point we vowed never to have seven. And haven’t.) But if you’ve ever had cats, you know that even one cat can take over a house. So then you have to ask, do these cats pull their weight? Are they willing participants in the creative process? Or do they just take up space?
I haven’t done an authoritative survey with demographics and statistics, but I do have a lot of cat fur on myclothes and can offer enlightening anecdotal evidence. Two of our cats, Blackie and Neko, provided the inspiration for the cat who adopts Kath Rutledge, the protagonist in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Blackie is no longer with us, but he found us when we lived in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He was a sweetheart, but when he arrived, the poor old guy looked as though he’d stuck his paw in an electrical outlet. Neko, our current fur resident, ran away to us from a nearby fraternity that didn’t know any better than to feed a kitten on beer and who-knows-what. The cat in the books is an orange tabby, like Neko, and his back story is a version of Blackie’s. Two good cats.
Someone told me once that every time she sat down at her computer to write, the cat she’d just adopted jumped into her lap. Like Thurber’s Pet Department advisor, I wasn’t sure what she was trying to communicate. “Um, yeah,” I said. “That’s what they do.” Clearly aggravated, my friend asked if I’d ever tried writing with a cat in my lap. I saw the problem, then, and wasn’t able to offer any comfort. Everything I’ve ever had published was written with a cat in my lap.
So that brings me back to the titular question – Cats: inspiration or infestation?
The answer – Does it matter?