Cat in a White Tie and Tails cover

Guest post by Carole Nelson Douglas

Midnight Louie is delighted that I was invited to write about him for the Conscious Cat and pleased to see photos of attractive torties on the site. (Frankly, like any hard-boiled PI, he can’t resist a female of any species.) And that may be mutual, much as I hate to encourage him. He looks gorgeously dapper on the cover of his latest release, Cat in a White Tie and Tails.

We have a tortie at home, rescued off the neighbor’s roof at 6 a.m. She’s called Amberleigh because she has green eyes and (some) red hair, like the Irish heroine of my first book of that name.

Midnight Louie was a rescue cat before he became a literary lion. Actually, he would deny he had needed “rescuing.” He was a motel cat. They usually have terrible lives, even in moderate climates. I’ve seen them eating chocolate cake from room service trays, poor things.When Louie was rescued, however, he weighed eighteen pounds from living off the costly koi–he adores those large, juicy upscale fish to this day–at a posh Palo  Alto motel. He’d cozy up to the ankles of female guests at the outside soft drink machine to cadge a soft, warm bed for the night. Trouble was, the management couldn’t absorb the koi losses and he was about to be sent to the local pound for a hasty exit.

A woman from St. Paul, where I was writing for the daily newspaper, flew him home in a borrowed puppy crate, but then put in an expensive three-inch long classified ad. All she wanted was the right home and he’d be yours for a dollar bill. I just had to do a feature story on this cat’s saga, and he did get a good home. (Mine was full up.) When I sat down to write the piece, I made what proved to be a momentous decision. I let Louie “write” his tale himself.

Louie proved to have a lot of cattitude and a strong noir voice, so more than ten years later when I was writing fiction fulltime in Fort Worth,Texas, he came to mind as a part-time narrator of an innovative romance-with-mystery quartet. The (no longer to be found even on the Internet) editor slashed his already-light contributions by forty percent without telling us.

Uh-oh. Louie demanded a rematch, so I flipped the concept to mystery with continuing romantic relationships, and we’ve just turned in our 25th  collaboration in an alphabetical series, Cat in an Alien X-Ray. Since the Midnight Louie series is set inLas Vegas, Louie has a high old time playing “Sam Spade with hairballs” in the world’s biggest and glitziest sandbox. And so do I.

Cat Fancy magazine has listed Midnight Louie 17th on its Top 40 list of iconic media and literary cats. Together, we have won many first place writing awards from the Cat Writers’ Association and others, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in Mystery from RT Book Reviews magazines.

My early life with cats was frustrating because my mother (irrationally, of course) disliked them and refused to let me have one. We lived in cold country, so I ran a one-night rescue operation, hoping my mother would break down and let me keep one stray someday, but when she finally did, it had to stay in the basement. I had to give it up because I learned that’s just not right for cats.

It’s no surprise my husband and I have taken in many strays. Besides Amberleigh, we currently have Midnight Louie III, a Humane Society adoptee; Topaz, a Persian whose owner died and was adopted as an adult; Winter, a successor to a beloved backyard-bred shaded-silver Persian I had for more than 20 years; and Audrey, a feral trapped, fixed and brought indoors at eighteen months.

Audrey isn’t pettable, but enjoys life “inside” and was deeply attached to Midnight Louie, Jr., a Lubbock shelter adoptee we drove more than six hundred miles to get. After deep mourning for Junior, she’s finally transferred her affections to the new midnight boy in town, Trey.

A lot of writers favor cats as companions (although we’ve had three cherished dogs), and that’s partly because cats are content to stay quietly beside us and muse or sleep as we writers think deep word-searching thoughts. Or not.

When I set out to write that first novel, Amberleigh, I was determined to put pets in the background of my books. Most novels I’d read didn’t even mention them. The book was a mainstream historical Gothic set inIreland, so I put in a gigantic Irish wolfhound. I quickly found out that you don’t put anything into a book unless it relates in a bigger way, so Boru ended up a hero at the climax.

I’ve written 60 novels in many genres. In my high fantasies featuring Irissa and Kendric, animals are important in many of the invented worlds they visit, but Felabba, a talking white cat with 99 lives, is the featured player.

In the Taliswoman eco-fantasies that have both a modern and fantasy-world setting, Alison’s travel partner between worlds is a white Samoyed, Rambeau. (Did I mention the first three stray cats who came to our door were white?)

My more recent urban fantasy series about Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator, features a Las  Vegas from Hell where werewolf mobsters and celebrity zombies operate in a dangerous but glitzy city filled with paranormal creatures and powers. In the first book, Dancing With Werewolves, Delilah rescues a 150-pound wolfhound-wolf cross who’s about to be put down. Quicksilver proves to be a very interesting dog with a species-realistic paranormal power of his own.

Midnight Louie, who doesn’t talk to people, on principal, does have to interrogate many animal witnesses in his series and does encounter species barriers. His confidential informants include other cats and dogs, a hawk, a horse that had belonged to Elvis, a monkey, and a drug-and bomb-sniffing Maltese dog (used in real life). An anaconda was Louie’s most dangerous mission, but his hypnotic purring managed to calm the huge snake.

I should mention that the four human crime-solvers in Louie’s series—two female, two male; two pro, two amateur—live in the real world and mostly have no idea about Louie’s investigations and sometimes life-saving manipulations.  He does nothing a big, strong cat couldn’t do . . . if he thought like Sam Spade.

And I think that’s quite enough for one twenty-pound cat.

Carole_Nelson_DouglasCarole Nelson Douglas was the first author to make a woman from the Sherlock Holmes stories a protagonist of her own adventures. The Irene Adler series debuted with the New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Good Night, Mr. Holmes, and has eight entries so far. Besides Louie’s many adventures, she’s written five   Delilah Street novels, and many others in mainstream, romance and sf-fantasy genres. She’s won or been short listed for fifty writing awards, including RT Book Reviews Lifetime Achievement Awards for Suspense, Versatility and being a Pioneer of Publishing. She will be inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame Oct. 19.

12 Comments on A visit from Midnight Louie and Carole Nelson Douglas

  1. Hi, Peg!

    Midnight Louie says: “Better late than never.” 🙂

    I know what you mean about hard-to-find reading time for pleasure. Yes, Louie’s ‘Cat in an Alien X-File’ will be out early next August. Readers who fret about the series “ending,” should know that Louie’s Cat Pack has already been dispatched to put the squeeze on me for more after the Louie gets to “Z” and the 27th book in that series.

    There are 27 books in an alphabetical series because the first two books were “Catnap” and “Pussyfoot.” When the publisher wanted a similar title format for each book, “Cat on a Blue Monday” was chosen from my list of possibilities. I figured if book #3 was a “B” title, I should also go forward alphabetically to “Cat in a Crimson Haze.”

    By then I knew Midnight Louie was not going to get his claws off of me and was agitating for more stories. So were the readers.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Carole and Louie

  2. Carole, I have to admit that I’ve only recently discovered the delights of Midnight Louie’s commentary. (I chalk that up to finally having a bit of time to read for the pure pleasure of it.) It’s great to know that there is a long series of mysteries featuring Louie’s tough-guy commentary and a collection of quirky humans, and Midnight Louise, to help him solve cases. Thanks!

  3. Carole, how wonderful to hear more about your beginnings with cats and how Midnight Louie rose to prominence!

    I’ve enjoyed many of your books in recorded version, but I first met Midnight Louie in a short story included in an anthology of cat stories, and, missing my intelligent, cunning and compassionate black cat Kublai Khan, I immediately fell in love and decided my “next” black cat would be named Midnight Louie in his honor (I’d already named a series of black fosters in Khan-themed names). I continued to read Midnight Louie’s adventures and your other books, all genre that I adore, but the next black cat turned out to be a girl who I named after Louie’s literary daughter, Midnight Louise, though she became Lucy in time.

    I now live with no fewer than five black cats, all related but named after characters in La Boheme, who’ve inspired a lot of artwork and are working on their own set of stories. I’m looking forward to this book!

    • Hi, Bernadette,

      Thanks for posting a message. I’m glad you enjoy the blog post and the books!

      A dear friend of mine had a beloved cat named Kublai Khan. Louie is honored to be an emperor’s successor in the name department. Midnight Louise is glad that she wasn’t left out. We carefully pick our cats’ names too . . . and then come up with a bunch of nicknames.

      Thanks for your fostering work!

      I’m glad to hear your black cat quintet have inspired a rash of creativity in your life. I hope you’re subscribed to my annual newsletter. It can be done on my website.

      Very Best Fishes,

      Carole

    • Great to hear from you and your lissome feline familiar, Amy!

      Louie and Delilah thank you for the shout-out!

      Hope all’s going well with your books and the new thriller!

  4. Since Ingrid posted about “Cat in a White Tie and Tails”, I’ve started reading the entire Midnight Louie series from the very beginning, and am just currently began “Cat in a Golden Garland”. I love these books! I am owned by a large black boy cat named Chuck (and his tuxedo sister Angel), and enjoy how Louie simply enjoys his dark, rich fur. We also care for three neighborhood strays, and one is also all black with two remarkable areas of white: around her toe on a back foot (like a ring!) and around an ankle in the front (a bracelet!). We call her Mama Mia, and I watch her soak up the sunshine on our deck. She, Patty O’Malley (tiger stripes) and Old Sam (tuxedo) have all been TNR’d and live in cosy insulated shelters close to food and water. It is hard to leave the house to go to work because of our beautiful bounty of cats!

    • Welcome, Victoria, to Midnight Louie’s world!

      We’re glad you’re enjoying Midnight Louie’s literary adventures.

      We are also caretakers of outside ferals. My husband used plastic storage boxes to create cozy shelters for them too, although the winters in Texas aren’t too long or severe.

      Your indoor and outside cats sound handsome and unique. If we find strays, they come indoors. We trapped and spayed Audrey, who was a momcat at a horribly young age and thoroughly feral. We saw the rough life she’d had and couldn’t stand to put her back outside at risk of illness and accident, so she’s been a contented inside cat for more than four years. She’s a lovely long-haired calico.

      Through her attachments to ML Jr. and now ML III, she’s getting more within petting distance, so I hope someday she’ll break the barrier.

      Thanks for what you do to make cats’ lives better inside and out!

      Very Best Fishes,

      Carole and Louie

  5. Carole, I’ve enjoyed several of your books and will soon be starting your latest, which I won in a giveaway from the Conscious Cat. Hello from a fellow Minnesotan! I didn’t realize that you had written for a local paper.

    I think that my scary smart tortie, Coco Bear, could probably be a feline detective (especially if food was involved). She sniffs the air like a bloodhound, and nothing escapes her attention.

    • Hi, Pat, Coco and Calypso!

      Congratulations on winning “Cat in a White Tie and Tails.” Yes, I was raised in Minnesota and wrote for the St. Paul paper, where “the real and original” Midnight Louie appeared in my feature story.

      I think that most cats have detective potential, and Louie bemoans the fact that his sniffing ability is underrated because dogs have cornered the “amazing smeller” category. Coco Bear sounds like a natural.

      Very Best Fishes to you and yours,

      Carole and Louie

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