I’ve been enjoying the Cats in Trouble series, featuring cat quilter Jillian Hart, who settled in the small town of Grace, South Carolina with her three cats, since the very first book. The latest in the series, The Cat, The Mill and the Murder, was just released yesterday.
In this installment in the delightful series, Jillian volunteers to help a local animal shelter relocate a colony of feral cats living in an abandoned textile mill. She never expects to find a woman living there, too. The woman, who went missing from Mercy, South Carolina, a decade ago, refuses to leave the mill or abandon Boots, her cat who died years ago. After the woman is hurt in an accident and is taken away, those who’ve come to town to help repurpose the mill make a terrible discovery, and Jillian tries to unearth a long-kept and dark secret with the help of a mysterious new feline friend.
Look for a review of The Cat, The Mill and The Murder on The Conscious Cat soon.
I had a chance to ask Leann Sweeney a few questions, and I’m delighted to introduce you to this talented, cat loving author today.
Leann Sweeney was born and raised in Niagara Falls and educated at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Lemoyne College in Syracuse, NY. She also has a degree from the University of Houston in behavioral science and worked for many years in psychiatry and as a school nurse; she now writes full time. Leann is married with two fabulous grown children, a wonderful son-in-law and a beautiful daughter-in-law–not to mention three amazing granddaughters: Maddison Grace (Maddie), Morgan Elizabeth and Meika Elise. She lived in Texas from 1974 to 2012 and now lives in South Carolina with husband Mike, her two cats Wexford and Marlowe, and Rosie–the smart, retrieving, golf-ball chasing, busy-busy-busy mini-labradoodle.
When did you first get the idea for the Cats in Trouble series?
My editor knew I was a cat lover and we worked out the series idea together.
Who were the real life cats who inspired Merlot, Chablis and Syrah?
When I first started the series I had three cats of my own, all of whom have since left me for the Rainbow Bridge. But they continue to be an inspiration even now. Wexford and Marlowe, two ragdolls, now help motivate me. I couldn’t write the series if I didn’t play with and watch those two boys!
The series is set in South Carolina, and you moved there last year. Did writing the series have something to do with your decision to move there?
Yes. I wanted a different setting than Texas, and since we already had property in South Carolina and planned to build a house (which is now in progress!!) it seemed like the perfect place for a fictional town.
Tell us about your own pets.
Wexford is a silver tabby ragdoll and he is very shy. He’s a bird watcher and bug catcher, though. Because he is so shy, I decided to get another kitten and looked for a more outgoing cat to balance his nature. Little did I know I had adopted one very sick kitty.
Marlowe, a bicolor seal point ragdoll, started having seizures a few days after I brought him home. He had an infection (either toxoplasmosis or FIP) that was pretty massive. Wexford and I have fought hard to save him, and though he is still on antibiotics and seizure medicine, he is playing and running and acting more like a kitten every day. Wexford makes sure his new best friend is thoroughly clean and gets plenty of exercise.
We also have a wonderful dog—Rosie, a mini-labradoodle. She is smarter than smart and busy all day long chasing squirrels or begging to chase golf balls outside.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read! I am also a quilter and a cross stitcher.
Who or what inspires you?
Besides my cats, it’s probably just the environment and what I see in a news story that says, “well … what if it happened THIS way? Hmmmm…”
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman
Will there be more Cats in Trouble mysteries?
Absolutely. I am working on #6 and already have an idea for #7!