Thursday, October 20, 2016

BEHOLD -- IN A CAT'S EYE!

We love our cats. All were rescues from neglect or abuse. All are, we often say, like a million bucks that nobody else wanted, and we were lucky enough to claim as our own. We presently have two cats, Ozzie and Wheezer. Ozzie came to us circuitously eight years ago from a far-away land, a survivor of an infamous cat hoarding case. Wheezer found her way to Xanadu from just down the road -- her elderly human caretaker had passed away, and she'd gone to live with the woman's sons, who didn't exactly care for her. When she showed up three autumns ago, yowling in her cat carrier as she was walked up our driveway, the sound broke our hearts, and we knew we'd offer her the best home possible. It didn't matter that we were told she was three years old and it turned out she was fourteen; she soon took charge of the house as rightful queen (with Ozzie, ever, as pampered princess) and our home was made complete following the loss of our previous female feline monarch, the famous Chicken, who once saved our entire family from obliteration (it's true -- she woke the house when the Mother's Day Nor'Easter of 2007 filled our basement and flooded our furnace while we slept, and the pipes quaked. Had she not roused the house awake, a bomb crater would have been all that was left, according to our gas company. Chicken won the Feline Hero Pet Award from the MSPCA, where we adopted her, later that autumn).

In May on the morning I readied to fly to Hollywood to attend the star-studded The Roswell Awards (my short story "Mandered" won Honorable Mention in this year's contest), I saw that a neighbor's new cat was perched outside our sun porch door, harassing Ozzie. I've traveled far and wide in 2016, to numerous writing retreats located on islands, mountaintops, and waterfalls. Hollywood was my third of eight adventures, and by the time I landed I missed our little family and the Muse had already turned the incident with the neighbors' cat into a new story. In my hotel room, I sat down and began the tale of a neighbor delivered an ominous warning by his crazy neighbors' cat, and had penned half of it by the time I took to the stage to accept my Roswell Award. Soon after completing "The Neigthbors' Cat", I read about Pole to Pole Publishing's new project, In a Cat's Eye, and hastened through edits on the computer. Soon after, I received a rewrite offer, and made my few changes while a new roof was being put on Xanadu. Sparse days later, the official acceptance arrived. I'm proud to be part of this amazing release, which also features a reprint of "The Brazilian Cat" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Many of my talented co-authors shared the back-stories behind their stories in In a Cat's Eye.

Gail Z. Martin on "Catspaw": "When Vonnie and Kelly [the publishers] asked me for a cat story, I knew I wanted to write it in my Deadly Curiosities dark urban fantasy universe, set in Charleston, SC. My main character, Cassidy Kincaide, is a psychometric. Cassidy runs Trifles and Folly, an antique store that is a front for an Alliance of mortals and immortals who get haunted and cursed objects out of the wrong hands and fight supernatural threats. So I had the ‘where’ and the ‘who’, and now I needed the ‘what’. The gist of the story came to me, and that got me started -- a necromancer’s cat. The title sprang to mind from the Star Trek: TOS episode of the same name. The cat had to play an essential role in the story, and since the piece was short, we had to get to the action quickly. I had decisions to make. Was the cat good or evil? Did the cat itself possess supernatural powers or was it a pawn, a victim, a familiar or a co-conspirator? Read ‘Catspaw’ and find out!"

Oliver Smith on "Grimmun": "Most of the characters are thinly veiled Norse gods, except for Sweet who is a bunch of wild herbs and snails. ‘Grimmun’ conflates the metaphor of the clockwork universe with the physical universe and mixes up human custom with natural law. Cutting across this implausible world of authorial confusion and scientific ignorance strides Ratter the Cat, a tribute to every vicious farm kitten ever adopted into my family. How excited I was as small child to wake in the morning and find a new dissection spread across the lawn by our own ‘Ratter’. The cats procured a fantastic variety of wildlife: frogs, toads, rats, mice, birds, slowworms, and even a bat (rescued alive). I blame these daily scenes of slaughter for my abidingly morbid imagination. Without those cats I would probably write uplifting stories of noble heroes doing whatever thing they do. I would dream of pretty flowers, not the horrors presented in ‘Grimmun’. I would be good. I would be happy.  I now own a house cat who will tackle nothing bigger than a woodlouse -- if you care to, you can read about her in ‘The Sulphur Remedy’ in my collection Basilisk Soup."

Steven R. Southard on "The Cats of Nerio-3": "What? A call for submissions for a cat anthology? I’ll pass; I don’t own a cat, or even like them. (Mysterious voice): Hello, Steve. Who’s that? I’m your muse. You will write a cat story, a story about cats in an abandoned space station who’ve mutated into panther-sized monsters, now adapted to weightlessness. Really? I’m going to write that? Well, I’ll help. A little. In fact, I’ve given you the seed of an idea, so my job here is done. Bye. Wait, Muse, is that all I get? Muse? Sheesh. She does this every stinkin’ time. Leaves the hard part to me. Giant mutant cats in space, huh…"


(Queen Wheezer)
K. I Borrowman on "Kings of the Concrete Jungle": "Baker is a domestic shorthair cat from Al Khor, Qatar. One of his distinctive features is his central heterochromatic eyes. He came from a large family and had six brothers and sisters. An avid adventurer, Baker left home at the young age of nine weeks to pursue a life of banditry. Currently, Baker’s favourite hiding places include: under the sofa, his laundry duckie, and any box or bag, no matter the size. Baker came up with the idea for “Kings of the Concrete Jungle” when he demonstrated to his human, K.I. Borrowman, how his unique feline traits would help ensure his survival during any upcoming zombie apocalypses. To learn more about Baker, please visit his website, www.spotthekitty.com. Be sure to check out his advice column for other cats under the ‘Latest Mews” tab and download his game, Spot the Kitty, for your Android or Apple device."

Christine Lucas on "A Pinch of Chaos": "‘A Pinch of Chaos’ was the first story I wrote after a three-year break from writing. It's a story that opens with gut-wrenching loss, much like the loss I felt often throughout these three years. But in its heart it's also a Hero's Journey, mapping in some level my own journey during that time against seemingly impossible obstacles to regain all that I had lost. In this journey, both in the story and in life, the Wise Sage never came. Only cats came, with all the joy and – sometimes -- heartbreak this entails. Perhaps there's no Wise Sage at all in this Journey we call Life, only a crone with a wicked sense of humor, and her head is a cat's head. As one of my characters often says, ‘Cats are Bast's ongoing prank on mankind.’ He should know -- he's a High Priest. As for the Journey, in fiction as in life, it has closure, but no End. Ithaka will always lie beyond the horizon, and Circles have no ends."

Doug C. Souza on "Tenth Life": "Doug C. Souza began his story ‘Tenth Life when the first line, ‘I found Mr. Gary confessing to the cat one evening, popped into his head. It was a random image that seemed to have the makings of a fun story. He had no idea where the characters would end up, but one thing was certain: the cat would be a gray tabby. A couple years earlier, Doug C. Souza had to say goodbye for the final time to the greatest cat that ever walked the face of the Earth. He’s glad his pal Remy found a home in one of his stories. Recently, Doug won first place in the Writers of the Future Contest, and has a story featured in The Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide due out later this year. His story “Mountain Screamers”--a novelette about cougars--appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. Doug C. Souza hopes you enjoy ‘Tenth Life, a story where a cat gets into (and out of) trouble the way only a cat can."

A. L. Sirois on "Three Wizards and a Cat": "Regarding Three Wizards and a Cat, I wrote an earlier story with the protagonist, Rali Ribhu, in the same far-future setting, using that same Jack Vance type of sardonic voice. This story is a follow-up to that tale, The Comet Doom, but not a direct sequel. I loved writing this, and people have responded well to it. Perhaps Rali will ride again one of these days. It would be fun to put him into a novel-length story."


(The Princess Ozzie, days before our move to Xanadu)
Joanna Hoyt on "Another Man's Cure": "The submissions call for In A Cat’s Eye gave me an excuse to complete an odd little half-story which had been prowling around the back of my mind for a few years. Dr. Marcus Leeds, the world’s foremost -- indeed, the world’s only -- cryptoethnogastronomist, with his pride in his objectivity, his defensiveness around his unusual discipline, his basic decency and his occasional difficulty in treating his research subjects as people, was already clear in my mind. So was the dangerous sweetness of the kopiat and the dangerous otherness of the wicked little cat known as the stiss. I wasn’t quite sure what they were all going to do together, but I enjoyed finding out. Marcus, of course, bears no resemblance whatsoever to any of the human-studying experts I have encountered. None whatsoever. Well, not very much… I am grateful that the anthology editors liked him well enough to advocate (successfully) for a somewhat happier ending."

A. L. Kaplan on "Mark of the Goddess": "‘Hi, Maya. Tell me about your role in 'Mark of the Goddess'.’

‘Sure, but first, where did you get the idea for this story?’

‘I’ve always been drawn to mythology, and this call for submissions screamed for the Mayan jaguar goddess. Writing a story with no canines was a challenge. I’m a dog person and a major wolf fanatic.’

‘Is that why you made my jungle so dangerous?’

‘Realism is important, especially for fantasy stories. I did a lot of research to create the right kinds of wildlife.’

‘Yeah. Thanks a lot for all the carnivorous plants and animals.’

‘No apologies there. Changing subjects, I love the bright colors in your dress.’

‘My mom is a wiz with dyes. She did all the beadwork with colored seeds. We can’t afford stone beads.’

‘Well, it’s lovely.  Speaking of dyes, what’s with the brown stain in your eyes? Be proud of who you are.’

‘Are you trying to get me killed? No one can know my true eye color. Why are authors so cruel to their characters? I don’t know how I’m going to survive this story.’

‘You’ll have to read it and find out if you do.’"

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Gregory for chatting with some of the other "In a Cat's Eye" contributors, and sharing their thoughts on their cat stories. I found editing this collection to be a treat. So many good cat stories. I'm glad Kelly Harmon and I were able to publish a nice selection of these cat tales (including yours). - Vonnie

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  2. Thanks for sharing some of our behind the scenes info.

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