Hello. My name is Delia James, and I write mysteries. Specifically, I write mysteries with magic and cats with plenty of attitude. This is no surprise to anybody who knows me.
I grew up on mysteries. Summers at my grandmother’s in the country, I discovered her Agatha Christie books and was immediately fascinated by Hercule Poirot. TV was filled with mysteries and we never missed them, Colombo, MacMillan & Wife, McCloud, The Rockford Files, Quincy…and of course I was in love with the Hardy Boys as played by Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson (for the record, I was a Parker Girl, all the way). Of course I could quote Sherlock Holmes, chapter and verse. In college, I got introduced to, and fell in love all over again with, Lord Peter Whimsey.
Despite this, when I started writing, mysteries were not my first choice. I was (confession time) also a major science fiction nerd and it was science fiction I gravitated to first. I don’t regret it at all. Science fiction is fun, and it teaches you a lot about how to build a fictional world along with the characters that fit into it, or don’t. This can be valuable training for a mystery writer who has to construct solid, interesting puzzles the size of small towns, or big bad cities. And of course, along with science fiction, I was also a fan of its sister genre, fantasy, with its elves and hobbits, and witches, and plenty of magic. I learned to read from The Wizard of Oz and had Alice in Wonderland practically memorized.
With all this swirling around in the background, when I got the chance to write a story featuring a witch and a magical cat in New England, you know I jumped at it. And I am having an absolute blast.
First of all, it’s given me an excuse to spend more time in New England, which is one of my very favorite places. I love the landscape, the coast and the rivers. I even love the weather, especially the autumn. I love the old cities and towns and all the history tucked up in their streets and odd (some of them very odd) corners. Of course there are mysteries here. Lots of them, some of them old, some of them brand new.
Cats were another natural for me. I’ve been owned by one cat or another since I was born. From our grumpy old indoor-outdoor tortoiseshell Buttercup, to Isis the Siamese, to our current long-haired gray Buffy the Vermin Slayer, they all at one time or another shared my home, sat on my lap, or curled up on my shoulders, or gotten in between me and…whatever I was doing at the moment. I swear, some of them have in fact been able to vanish and reappear at will, just like Alistair in A Familiar Tail. Of course they couldn’t be kept out of anyplace they really wanted to get into, including the bedroom, the closet, and once, much to everybody’s surprise and embarrassment, the fridge. Again, just like Alistair.
So, like I said at the beginning, I’m Delia James. Welcome to my world!
A Familiar Tale, A Witch’s Cat Mystery by Delia James, NAL paperback, February 2, 2016, 324 pages, $7.99