Saturday, February 7, 2009

An Author's "Mews"

by Lorna Barrett (who also masquerades as L.L. Bartlett)

And the winner of a copy of Lorna's latest release, Bookmarked for Death, is Chris Redding. Chris, please contact me at darlene at Thanks to Lorna and cats for joining us this weekend.

Just about every author I know has at least one pet. Most have more than one. Some have more than one species, too. But the majority of us seem to have cats. Or rather, they have us.

I’m currently owned by four cats. Most of the day they lie around the house, snoozing their lives away. This time of year you can find them under incandescent light bulbs or lying with their snoots pointed into the heat run. I swear, sometimes I think they’re going to cook themselves, but cats love heat.

These days, Chester, our dominant cat, seems to be able to find the best source of heat and stick with it. If the sun happens to be out, he’ll follow it to every room in the house. More often than not, it’s just plain gloomy. (We live in Western New York. I think only Seattle has more gloomy days than us. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.) Chester’s not much of a lap cat during the summer, but come winter, he might deign to sit with me, but mostly he prefers hanging around with my husband. (It’s a guy kind of thing, I guess.)

Bonnie, terrified over just about everything (except at breakfast time, then she’ll challenge the boys to a fight--and then screams bloody murder if they take her up on it), lives on the heat run behind the couch. She comes out for meals, and likes to watch DVDs with me. (Last week we watched episodes of Star Trek Enterprise and the movie Iron Man. She prefers more quiet shows. And let’s face it, photon torpedoes are a lot more quiet than everything blowing up in a guy flick. After all, I don’t think sound travels through the vacuum of space. Am I right?)

Now Betsy, our little Princess, was very ill with cancer in 2007. She had an amazing recovery (sure shocked the heck out of our vet when we brought her in for her yearly shots this past September), although she’s a bit … crabbier … than she was before her illness. Still, she still likes to do her Betsy things -- hanging out under light bulbs (especially if you’re trying to read -- blocking light is No. 1 on her list of things to do) and moving around the house to check out all the heat runs. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

Throwing a monkey wrench into the works is my tiny son, Fred. (Also known as my Little Prince.) Fred isn’t the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but he’s super handsome and he knows it. He also knows that if he’s in trouble, all he has to do is lie down, roll over and look cute. (And darned if it doesn’t work every time.) Fred will sleep under a light bulb, but has never learned that heat runs got super warm. (See dim-bulb comment above.)

I’d like to say that the cats keep me company as I work on my books, but that would be a big fat lie. No, they’re in the next room with my husband (and that 200 watt incandescent bulb). Hubby also works from home, and did years before I did, so the cats have their routine and they’re not changing it just for me. It’s just as well. Sometimes they come in for a visit and like to sit on my arms as I type. This, of course, makes it very difficult to type accurately--which I have a hard enough time doing without their “help.”

I also have a comfy chair in my office, with a nice light. I like to sit there to edit. Unfortunately, the minute my butt hits the chair, some cat will wander in and demand to sit on my lap. Since I keep my drafts in a big three-ring notebook, there’s nowhere to put it if there’s a cat on my lap. So I have to sit, twisted like a cheese straw, and put the notebook on the chair’s arm. Then a cat will get annoyed, stand up, turn around at least three times, nudge the notebook until I move it to the other arm, and then sit down again. I’ll turn the page, make a note, and the process starts all over again.

Of course, cats have other habits. They’re very clean. With all that washing, they ingest a lot of hair. How often have I been working when I heard hubby’s voice call out, “Someone’s puking, someone’s puking.” Since I write mysteries, it’s up to me to play detective to find the culprit and remove the evidence. (Not one of the perks of working at home.)

But would I ever live without cats? Never.

By the way, my new book, Bookmarked for Death, features a cat. Her name is Miss Marple and she steals every scene she’s in. She’s based on my cat Cori, who lived to the ripe old age of 20.

Lorna Barrett writes the Booktown Mystery series, featuring Tricia Miles and her Haven’t Got A Clue bookstore. It’s available now. Hop in the car and rush right to your local bookstore. Go on! Do it now!


Paul Lamb said...

"Dogs have owners. Cats have staff."

I've never much liked cats. There just aren't any good recipes for them.

Lori said...

When I was a kid I had a collection of worms, spiders and centipedes. Now I have a cat, or maybe as Paul pointed out I'm just staff.

Sandra Parshall said...

I'm definitely a servant to our two cats, Gabriel and Emma. But they repay me with snuggles and purrs. Since I lost my long-time muse, Simon, when he was almost 18, Emma has moved into that position and takes it very seriously. Gabriel is too revved up to be a full-time muse, but he wanders in and out to provide flashes of inspiration.

Iasa said...

We're that house that always has a number of pets of various description. It seems the strays have put out the word about us. Currently we have two dogs, a cat, a snake, a hamster (in a different room from the snake. We're not running a restaurant here) and a couple of children. That's not to say I think of my children as strays but sometimes you would think they ain't got no home training.

caryn said...

We currently have 2 dogs and 2 cats. We have had fish a number of times, a guinea pig and hermit crabs.
I love the cats but I'm really a dog person at heart I think.
I picked up your new book yesterday at Barnes and Noble, so if there is a drawing for the prize, you can leave me out of the hat. I just stopped by to say hello!
Caryn in sunny and WARM St.Louis

Chris Redding said...

Right now we only have a dog. At one point we had the dog and two cats. There was a rat in there,too We are waiting on a rabbit. either we'll buy a a baby or someone in our 4-H group will have a pregnant doe soon.

Jude said...

I love Chester. Does he make housecalls?

Julia Buckley said...

I have three cats, a dog and a fish. I'm amazed that other people always have such friendly cats, because ours always tend to be rather distant and scornful, no matter how much we may beg for cuddling. They're friendly when we have the food bag, but then they disappear for the majority of the day to lie on my bed together in their cat dozing club. They play all night and knock things down, then pretend they didn't do it in the morning. Sigh.

Lorna Barrett said...

Hi, Caryn, thanks for buying the book. I hope you like it!

Paul Lamb said...

In answer to the question, our household currently has two dogs (one being a Pomeranian puppy named Queequeg), a rabbit, a cockatiel, and a goldfish. In the past we've had other dogs, a cat, various rodents, and a guinea pig.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Hi LL! No pets--but we take our stuffed animals very seriously. We have bears who are obsessed with salmon (their solution to anything from writer's block to the economic crisis is "Put a salmon in it"), wolves who talk about venison a lot, and a lynx and two snow leopards whose favorite TV show is True Blood.

Sandra Parshall said...

We're allowed to count stuffies too? Okay -- around me in my study are eight panda stuffies of various sizes, a cheetah,a hedgehog, and a Stitch (as in Lilo & Stitch). I also have numerous ceramic pandas, a carved wooden cat that is perpetually stretching its back on top of my computer case, a bulldog (the model for Tom's dog Billy Bob in Disturbing the Dead), an eagle, and several mice.

knwick84 said...

Remember, Blofeld had a cat, not a dog... That must mean they're more sinister.