So, it turns out cats have taken over the world.
This is not going to be news to cat owners, or to cats themselves. They just wonder why it took so long for the rest of us to notice.
I am a cat person. I grew up with cats. When I was little we had a highly independent calico named Buttercup who learned to walk without making her bell collar ring and who mercilessly teased the great dane who lived next door. Since then, I’ve shared my home with a number of felines, from my (frankly) psychopathic Siamese, to Kuzbean who loved everybody, except Isis, to our current kitty, Buffy the Vermin Slayer who is sitting by my shoulder as I type this up.
Every last one of them has known their exact position at the center of the universe, and every last one of them has made sure that it was remembered.
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that I drew heavily on my personal cat experiences, as well as the cats owned by friends and family to create the character of Alistair for the Witch’s Cat mysteries. For instance, Colonel Kitty, the black, three-legged cat owned by Frank Hawthorne, is the namesake of a cat owned by good friends of mine, who was able to climb trees, fences, chairs faster than most four-legged cats. Miss Bootsie, the cat at the Harbor’s Rest hotel, may or may not be related to any number of cats I’ve met in bookstores and bed and breakfasts.
Alistair, however, is his own particular self. Big, sassy, convinced (and rightly so) of his own intelligence. But loving and loyal. When he feels like it.
One of the reasons I enjoy writing the witch’s cat mysteries so much is the relationship between Anna and Alistair. They are such a great team, and Alistair’s personality just leapt off the page as soon as I began to write him. Like his human friends, Alistair has more abilities than average, and maybe an extra helping of smarts (although my own cats would argue this point). Despite this, I’ve tried to keep him one hundred percent cat. For instance, He sits on everything; papers, laundry, open books, toes that aren’t moving fast enough. The state of his food bowl is of constant and intense importance to him, especially if it is not full, or is full of the wrong thing. This last is borrowed straight from a trick of Buffy’s of standing at the bottom of the stairs to our room and meowing, loudly, at five in the morning, because we haven’t gotten up quickly enough (For the record, I am not exaggerating about the five in the morning part).
Frustration. Exasperation. Confusion. Laughter. A little strange fame, or maybe infamy. Magic. The kind of love that you would not choose to live without. That is what it is to be a cat owner, and that’s what I want to pour into the pages of the Witch’s Cat books.
Born in California and raised in Michigan, Delia James writes her tales of magic, cats, and mystery from her hundred-year-old bungalow home. She is the author of the Witch’s Cat mysteries, which began with A Familiar Tail. When not writing, she hikes, swims, gardens, cooks, reads, and raises her rapidly growing son.