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.
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.