Guest post by Clea Simon
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Clara was supposed to be a tortoiseshell. Although, Clara – the heart, if not exactly the heroine – of my new cozy cat mystery An Incantation of Cats is now a calico, she was a tortie through at least two drafts of A Spell of Murder, the first book in the “Witch Cats of Cambridge” series, largely due to Ingrid’s influence. I started this series before Thisbe, my current feline companion, came into my life, but through Ingrid, I had learned about tortitude and the delightful and assertive personalities these multi-colored kitties can have.
Clara became a calico because I liked the alliteration. It also worked with the sibling rivalry between the series’ three magical cats: Clara’s sisters, Harriet and Laurel, tease her, calling her “Clara the clown.” She also became a calico because as I started to write the first book in the series, I was, for the first time in a long while, without a cat.
I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that I – perhaps all cat cozy authors – put our pets in our books. My first mystery, Mew is for Murder, began with a woman who was mourning her pet – and ends with her adopting a black-and-white kitten, the literary version of my beloved jellicle Musetta. My Dulcie Schwartz series started the same way – only with that book, I also revived the spirit of my late great Cyrus, a grey longhair, for the spectral kitty Mr. Grey (this was long before E.L. James) and had him guide Dulcie toward the tuxedo Esmé, the Musetta cognate in that series. (For my darker Blackie and Care books, Cyrus was once again reincarnated – this time as the nameless black feral who guides his girl.)
But I was without a cat when I first dreamed up the witch cats books, and although I had revived Cyrus’s memory for earlier mysteries, the loss of Musetta was still too raw. Yes, I knew I would adopt – and adore – another cat. That’s probably why I could pitch another cat series. But that cat had not yet appeared.
Maybe that’s why I went for three cats – the vain Laurel, the comfort-loving Harriet, and the loyal Clara. Maybe I knew that the world was full of wonderful creatures, looking for their humans and their forever homes. After all, I found – and fell for – Thisbe several months before A Spell of Murder came out. And now as she bounces around the house in that distinctive tortie craze, I ask myself, should Clara the calico have been Tara the tortie? Should I pitch another series – introduce another feline character? Or can I, finally, simply let Thisbe’s sweet and inquisitive nature, her tortie intelligence and seemingly boundless affection inform a cat of a different color, at last?
With love and affection for Ingrid and in memory of Ruby.
When two new clients seek Becca’s professional services, the fledgling witch detective is overjoyed. Finally, she can use her skills to help her magical community. But as the young witch finds the new cases intertwining, things grow more complicated. Becca’s three cats – the ones with the real power – can smell something is wrong with these clients. But not even Clara, the calico, knows what to do when a man ends up dead and a powerful and poisonous root appears – and disappears – in the case.
Clea Simon is the author of more than two dozen mysteries, most of which feature cats. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband Jon and tortie Thisbe. She can be reached at https://www.cleasimon.com or on Twitter at @Clea_Simon
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