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My writing companions, Burton and India, are feral kittens I adopted about nine months ago when they were about a month old. Within 24 hours, India was minutes from dying in my hands and so, out of sheer emotional overload on all sides, their time as foster kittens came to an end, and they became my constant (and I do mean constant) desk-mates.
As you can imagine, they were not in the best of health after being abandoned in a window well as babies, but their timing was excellent, appearing just as I sent my book off to beta readers. With a goodly amount of time available between novels, and because I am a freelance writer who works from home, I was able to spend many, many hours coddling and caring for them. Now, they are almost nine months old, and finally healthy, happy, and no longer afraid of loud noises. (They are still afraid of anyone who isn’t me, but we are working on that.)
In some ways, the boys are an inspiration. They force me away from the keyboard a few times a day to play with them (if only to burn off a little bit of that insane baby animal energy). Cuddling with warm, fuzzy, purring things is never a bad way to spend an afternoon doing edits. I am planning a pair of cats in an upcoming series, to play foil to a very large dog. And there is something to be said for being reminded how short life really is by having it nearly end before your eyes.
All that said, they are too big, and their claws too sharp, to be climbing up my legs to find my lap. There is no way to have a Skype session with a client without a cat making funny photo-bomb faces in the webcam. I can’t seem to train them away from the computer cords or keep them from pretending the white paper recycle bin is a secondary litter box, and they have no fear of the rolling chair at all, no matter how dangerous it is to kitten paws.
I told myself a few years ago that I wouldn’t have kittens again—older rescues only, since they have so many fewer options, and since I am too old to keep up with babies—but when life gives you kittens… (you really look like a mean-spirited SOB if you try to give them back…)
I won’t say they keep me young, because kitten-wrestling on one’s head in the middle of the night does not facilitate beauty sleep. I won’t say they are so cute I forgive all, because there is a natural limit to the number of window screens I will replace without losing my temper. I won’t say it has been easy, if only because special food and special medicine and far-more-than-regular vet appointments has been hard on the pocketbook.
However, they support my writing life more than they detract, and they make me joyful in the most unexpected ways. Case in point, two months ago, I woke up on book launch day to a house filled with shredded toilet paper and two sets of innocent eyes asking, “It’s like confetti, right?”
Genre: Regency romance
Heat Rating: NC-17
When Isabella, the Countess of Huntleigh, returns to England after fifteen years roaming the globe with her husband, an elderly diplomat, she finds herself in a locale more perilous than any in her travels—the Court of King George IV. As the newly elevated Earl and Countess settle into an unfamiliar life in London, this shy, not-so-young lady faces wicked agendas, society’s censure, and the realities of a woman soon to be alone in England.
Unaccustomed to the ways of the beau monde, she is disarmed and deceived by a dissolute duke and a noble French émigré with a silver tongue. Hindered by the meddling of her dying husband, not to mention the King himself, Bella must decide whether to choose one of her fascinating new suitors or the quiet country life she has searched the world to find.
Mariana Gabrielle is a pseudonym for Mari Christie, a mainstream historical and Regency romance writer. She is also a professional writer, editor, and graphic designer with twenty years’ experience and a Bachelor’s in Writing from the University of Colorado Denver, summa cum laude. She lives in Denver, Colorado with two kittens who have no respect at all for writing time.