Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Catherine Kean and her Four-Legged Muse

Today I welcome author Catherine Kean to Terry's Place. She's generously offered a signed copy of any book mentioned in her blog post--DANCE OF DESIRE, MY LADY'S TREASURE, or A KNIGHT'S TEMPTATION--as a prize to one commenter. Make sure you leave a comment, and check back tomorrow to see if you're the winner!

I adore cats. Affectionate, stubborn, unpredictable, and full of mischief, they are, in my opinion, what a creative muse would be if given physical form. As a writer of medieval historical romances published by Medallion Press, and with a summer deadline looming, I call upon my muse every day. Some days it’s energized and inspiring me in creative leaps and bounds. On others, it stubbornly makes me question every darned word I type. I guess it’s safe to say I have a willful muse. As willful as the kitten we adopted a few months ago.

Looking back, I see cats have been with me through many milestones in my writing journey. As a child, nurturing my growing imagination by reading book after book, my constant companion was a long-haired orange and white kitty named Dandelion, who, like a true gentleman, suffered all kinds of indignities: wearing costume jewelry, being presented to my elementary school class for “show and tell,” and being dressed up in doll’s clothes. When, as a teenager I sat out in my parents’ garden, handwriting my first full-length novel (a young adult romance) in pencil in a lined notebook, he’d wander across the lawn to me, his fluffy tail in the air, to see if I would scratch his chin.

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While I was away at university completing my B.A. in English and History, Dandy ventured out one day and never came home. I was without a cat companion until I married, moved to Florida to live with my husband, and adopted a scrawny ginger male kitten from the local humane society. Since my husband is British, we called our kitty Tango, after a fizzy orange drink sold in England. Tango sat with me while I worked on my first contemporary romance novel, a truly awful manuscript which is tucked away in the back of my filing cabinet never to be looked at again.

While I typed, Tango curled up on the ream of printer paper nearby or sprawled on my computer desk, showing off his striped belly. Tango purred and danced in my arms to celebrate my first contest final and win, my first publishing contract, and the first time I saw a printed copy of my debut novel, Dance of Desire. When his kidneys started to fail, and I knew my time with him was drawing to a close, I immortalized him in the pages of my third paperback, My Lady’s Treasure, which is loosely based on the legends of King Arthur; Tango inspired the character of an ancient orange cat named Merlin.

When I had to make the difficult decision to end Tango’s suffering, I wondered if we’d ever adopt another cat. We’d taken in another humane society kitty some years ago, a sweet, gray tabby named Minton; maybe one cat was enough. But my daughter, a budding writer with oodles of talent, had never had the fun of a kitten. So, I found myself with my husband, daughter, and visiting parents at the humane society one morning last December. There, in the front cage, was a pinky-orange fuzz ball, who showed off for my daughter as though to say “I want to be yours! Take me home.” As we made plans for New Year’s Eve, and I celebrated finishing up galley proofs on my current release A Knight’s Temptation, Book 3 of my award-winning Knight’s Series, we welcomed Kai to our family. My daughter tells me Kai means “seashell” in Japanese. A good name, since he’s the color of the inside of a Conch shell.

Kai is incredibly cute, loving, and talkative. He’s also brimming with mischief—unlike Minton, who, at fourteen, is content to snooze most of the day. When I sit at my computer to write, Kai sulks outside my room and cries in his squeaky voice. If I ignore him—as in, say, when I’m concentrating on that thrilling scene where the hero and heroine are just a breath away from kissing, and the tension is so delicious that—Crash. Kai will knock something off the upstairs desk. Think he’s quiet because he’s fallen asleep? Weeeellllll, guess again. He’s more likely unrolling yards and yards of toilet paper in the spare bathroom.

Quite honestly, there are times with Kai when I could tear my hair out. I feel that way some days about my muse. Sometimes, the distractions of the phone ringing and doorbell dinging just seem to block the steady flow of words—just like Kai meowing outside my door. Other days, the inspiration flows beautifully, like Kai caught up in the glorious fun of toilet paper unraveling.

At the end of each writing day, though, my muse has always given me some good material for my work-in-progress. And, as I sit back on the sofa with my husband and daughter close by, with a soft, sleepy, purring Kai in my arms, I’m happy. Because, with my kitty muse, I’m complete.

For more information on Catherine Kean’s medieval historical romances, including her award-winning Knight’s Series, please visit her website at http://www.catherinekean.com

And be sure to check back tomorrow to see if you're her lucky winner.

21 comments:

vickyb said...

Where would we be without our furry friends? At 18, my cat Pixel isn't as active as she once was, but the purring hasn't diminished one bit. :)

Babyblue22 said...

Hey Catherine, Great Post!

It sounds like every cat that has come into your life was sent to you for a reason and they have definitely left their paw print's in your life and writing.
For which us fan can only be greatful for.
~Afshan

housemouse88 said...

Hello Catherine,

Love your insight into your cats. We currently have 3 in our house. They are Salt and Pepper, brothers and Squirt, distant cousin. Salt and Pepper have both been fixed so they are kinda laid back. However, Squirt, our female, has not. She can be a living terror sometimes. She does the toilet paper trick except she wants to eat it. LOL Gotta love them. Good luck with your muse. I'll let you borrow mine sometime. LOL Have a great day.

Terry Odell said...

Welcome, Catherine -- I've got cat allergies, but that didn't stop me from giving my hero in Finding Sarah cats. They ended up playing a pivotal role in his relationship with the heroine.

Kathy Otten said...

Love cats too. Currently have 4. At one time we had 7,but that was way too many. My cats lay all over my work area. On the printers, on my pile of notebooks, in front of the computer screen (it is obviously the best place to view the birds outside)and my German Shepherds lay around my chair. I can't move an inch with out pulling a chunk of hair out of someone's tail. My keyboard is always covered with hair and my computer screen with spots. Incredibly annoying at times, but I'd be lost without them.

Sarah Simas said...

Hi Catherine,

Great kitty pic! How cute! I miss kitties but my hubby draws the line at cats and animals in the house. *sigh* Allergies. So I have to live vicariously through all of the other kitty owners out there. LOL

Angelwolfstorm said...

I love cats, the one I have now is named Zeus. He is just a source of comfort and inspiration to me as well! I do photography and he has posed quite frequently for me.

CatherineKean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CatherineKean said...

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for sharing your kitty stories! Sounds like there are lots of pampered, adorable cats in our households. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for stopping by today.
Warmest wishes,
Catherine

Dara Edmondson said...

I know so many writers who are cat people. Mine are never far when I'm writing and often want to sit on my desk between me and the computer screen. Sounds like Kai will keep you on your toes!

Minna said...

Great Post!

Nancy said...

Catherine, reading your post made me yearn to have a cat again. We had to part with ours when we left Dallas for fear they wouldn't adjust to Florida. They were old enough then that I'm sure they're over the rainbow by now, but I still treasure their memories.

Happiness to your cats and your muse, and congratulations on all your books!

Light,
Nancy Haddock
FCRW chapter mate

Maryann Miller said...

Love the post. What a darling picture of your cat. All writers must be nuts about cats. I know we love ours beyond reason.

Tonya Renee Callihan said...

I love cats and all animals in general, I have three cats and three dogs. Don't think I could live without them.

Sounds like your cats all have helped you through a stepping stone with your writing.

And Kai sounds like a lot of fun:)

~Ley said...

Kai sounds like a lot of fun! LOL. I would love to have a kitty around my house. :( Someday...

kimmyl said...

Great post Catherine. My daughter's cat is one of the family and he's a really wierd cat. He goes to the door and meows for you to let him out and he refuses to use the litter box and then he will climb up on the ledge and hit on my daughter's window to let him back in.

Kammie said...

ooh, how cute!! I love cats, too. I had a Siamese cat that passed away at age 21. She was so much a part of our lives and I was heart broken when it happened.

Pam P said...

Hi Catherine, love your medievals.

I don't have a cat, but my brother had one who was huge, who liked to cuddle up with him, putting her paws around his neck and head on his shoulder, just like a person, lol.

Anonymous said...

My cat "Jezra" had three kittens two weeks ago. And I must say she is the epitomy of being a good mother. I'm really proud of her.
Independent as all get out but loves to be under my feet and of course have er tummy scratched.

MaryG

Maureen said...

Last July we adopted two kittens from our local animal shelter and they are always up to something they shouldn't be. But they are adorable and, of course, very spoiled. Every time I hear a crash, though, I dread finding what they have done now.

CheekyGirl said...

Love the photos. My two little dogs make me smile and always give me inspiration for anythign funny that I need to write.