Daisy was my first writing cat. I had an old-fashioned CRT monitor, which looked like a little square TV set. Like all electronic equipment, it got warm, and Daisy used to sleep on top of it, enjoying the warmth. Eventually it died, probably from overheating from having the vent on top plugged up with cat hair, and I got an LCD monitor, which didn’t have a place for her to sleep on.
My next writing cat was Nikki, who slept on my lap as I wrote. Nikki had a traumatic kittenhood, as my sister-in-law found her abandoned in her yard, wet and cold in the Wyoming spring. My husband didn’t really want another cat (we had Daisy and another one already), but Nikki was discovered a few days after my nephew died of SIDS. My husband’s large family was devastated and seeing all the adults they knew so distraught had really affected my children, who were young teenagers at the time. I thought the kitten would be a good distraction, and they both begged me to keep her, especially my son, who promised to do whatever was necessary to take care of her.
At six weeks old, Nikki wasn’t really ready to leave her mother, and required frequent feedings of kitten formula for a couple of weeks before we got her to eat cat food. She thrived and turned into a beautiful cat, but the trauma of her background had affected her. I always say Nikki has PSTD. She can be a sweet loving cat, purring on your lap one minute and then start snarling and hissing the next. If she gets scared, she might take a swipe at you, or even bite. And if she thinks you’re following her in the house, she will turn around and growl. Then, thirty seconds later, she is fine and purring again.
Nikki spent countless hours on my lap as I typed away and kept me company through a half dozen books. But eventually my children moved out and we decided to remodel the upstairs and create a real office for me. I assumed when it was finished, that Nikki would join me upstairs. But my office turned out to be too attractive to our other cats. They bullied Nikki the few times she ventured upstairs, and soon I couldn’t get her to go up there at all.
I was sad to lose her comforting warmth on my lap, but I’m hardly lonely when I write as our other three cats and the dog all spend a lot of time in my office. Benjamin spends the most time there. My daughter and I picked him out as a kitten from the local animal shelter and he really is “my boy”. He doesn’t sit on my lap, but sleeps on the couch nearby and will “chirp” at me to get me to pet him or follow him downstairs to give him treats in the kitchen.
And Nikki, who is sixteen now, isn’t so bad off. Her place of comfort these days is my husband’s chest. She seeks him out in his office (he works from home) or down in the family room as he watches TV. And she sleeps with us at night, either cuddled up next to me or on top of him.
I can’t imagine writing without my animals around. They are comforting companions in my office and provide distraction and entertainment as they cavort on the roof below my office window and in the yard. Like my first cat Tommy, who kept me company as I tramped around the Illinois countryside for hours, telling myself stories, they are intrinsic to the imaginative, creative part of myself that makes writing possible.
In the ninth century, Irish warrior Connar fell hopelessly in love with Aisling, one of the Nine Sisters, a group of priestesses skilled in healing. When Aisling came to a tragic end, he used magic to travel to the future to be reunited with her. But Aisling, now Allison Hunter, a free-lance writer in Denver, doesn’t remember her previous life. Which means Connar has to get her to fall in love with him all over again.
Mary Gillgannon writes romance and fantasy, often with Celtic influences. She’s worked in a public library for almost twenty-five years. With her two children grown, she now indulges her nurturing tendencies on her husband, four very spoiled cats and a moderately spoiled dog. When not working or writing, she enjoys gardening, traveling and reading, of course!