M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Writers and Their Muse: The Cat by Ruth Bainbridge

Writers and Their Muse: The Cat


  Ruth Bainbridge

What is it about cats? More precisely, what is it about writers and their cats? There seems to be a symbiotic relationship between authors and their friends of claw and fur, each reaping benefits from the odd coupling. I thought it would be fun to explore the inexplicable world they both inhabit.

Cats are a writer’s unspoken muse. The enigmatic feline inspires, soothes, relaxes, and offers a cleansing balm to the minds pursuing the perfection of words. They offer comfort when a deadline looms, play when a restive mind requires escape, a gentle purr for when we seek peace, and solace for those times we feel alone and misunderstood.

 While the wonderful Colette is credited with being the first “Crazy Cat Lady,” Hemingway was not exactly a slouch in this department. The home where he wrote The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, To Have and Have Not, and the Green Hills of Africa still boasts 40-50 descendants of his original menagerie. Here’s a wonderful shot of him cuddling his beloved Boise.

One of my favorite mystery writers, Martha Grimes, had a black cat named Blackie (duh!) and, not surprisingly, a kitty is prominently featured in her fantastic Richard Jury series. (You fans know the one I mean!) Another pretty darn good mystery writer was devoted to his cat. His name? Raymond Chandler. His agent, H. N. Swanson, said that Chandler's cat ''knew more about him than anybody else.'' Probably so. I know mine does about me and I pray she’s not talking. (Don’t look in the rose garden! Anywhere, but there!)

 Perhaps one of the best pictures expressing the relationship authors share is one taken of the brilliant Hermann Hesse. Author of the notable all-consuming classics Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game, the photo captures the spirit that exists between lovers of language and the soft cuddly dilettantes we adore.

On his knees, he’s engaged in play. Have you ever seen a more joyous expression? It perfectly expresses our pursuit of our oh-so, fickle muse. Yes, we will do anything to please, including crawling after her and scraping up our knees.

And the prolific Mark Twain was certainly not immune. His quotes include:

"I simply can't resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course." -- Mark Twain

“When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.” – Mark Twain 

Readers must be carrying on their own love affairs with these furballs. They are strong in lapping up mysteries featuring these gorgeous little creatures. Lillian Jackson Braun is one popular author that managed to imaginatively combine the art of murder with the domestic cat. But when you think about it, who better to teach us how to pull off the perfect murder than the ultimate predator? It certainly should make you stop and think.

I know for me, my afternoon would not be complete without looking over and seeing my cat curled up next to me as I write. Stroking her silky neck recharges me and allows me the energy to crank out pages. Of course, when she climbs on the keyboard, things get a bit awkward, but it’s just her way of telling me that any life worth living allows space for the simple pleasure of love.

I should mention here that I find my conversations with non-cat owners peculiar. They ask things like, “Can cats be trained?” My reply? “No, but fortunately we humans can.” So, purr away, my darling little girl. You’re safe in my arms and when you tire of being caressed, I will get back to work, but not a moment before you say I can. The world will just have to wait. 


Savage Summer

“When life gives you lemons … be sure to spit the pits out of that lemonade you’re making. Otherwise you’ll choke.” – Curt Savage

The past year has not been a good one for Curt Savage. Depressed over the death of a loved one, he’s gone into hiding, becoming entirely too comfortable with saying that he’s in the Witness Protection Program. But the urge to find that elusive killer puts his MIA status on hold. With the help of his new buddy Mike, he delves into the murky world of tracking down a killer — and uncovering who poisoned a neighbor’s dog.

SAVAGE SUMMER is the first in the Curt Savage mystery series. Going from former cop to private dick, he represents a new kind of detective—the reluctant kind. As his best bud Mike puts it, “Private investigation just got Savage.”

Author Bio:
Ruth Bainbridge

Ruth Bainbridge has been a lover of mysteries for her entire life. Ever since a child, she has consumed detective stories at regular intervals, becoming enamored with all the superstars of crime. She loved nothing more than to match wits with the likes of Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Thomas Pitt, Lord Peter Wimsey, Richard Jury and Edward X Delaney, becoming inspired by their brilliance. Hoping to emulate her writing idol’s achievements in dreaming up such characters, she started composing her own short stories.  
SAVAGE SUMMER is Ms. Bainbridge’s debut novel.
Her next planned project is MURDER MOST FOWL. Please be sure to join Ms. Bainbridge’s mailing list to keep updated on exclusive deals. http://eepurl.com/EeLTL 

You can learn more about Bainbridge's writing at her website and blog. She's also found on Facebook and Twitter. 

Savage Summer

The phone jarred me out of the fantasy. I awoke suddenly, shielding the light that assaulted my eyes. The odor of Ruthies perfume was everywhere. 

Ruth? I called out. Disoriented, I reached out to her side of the bed, expecting her to be there. It took me several more seconds to realize that she was dead. 

Hello, I started. The gravel in my throat demanded that I clear it once or twice. 

Im responding to the ad about Ruth Warwicks murder. 

 Those words officially woke me up. More effective than any cup of coffee, the voice synthesizer disguised the callers identity, but the point was that someone had finally phoned. Ever since Id been dispensed with as a suspect, Id placed small pennysaver ads in papers published in both Pennsylvania and Ruthies home state of Connecticut. Somebody knew something, but I hoped this wasnt some clown trying to get the reward money from punking my ass. 

Yes, go ahead. Im listening, I replied as I ran for a pen and paper. I wanted to be ready, but all I heard was static and heavy breathing. I guessed that it was all about the money time. In a second, theyd be asking for the details of how to collect. I figured Id beat them to that particular punch. Look, if youre worried about the reward, the $10,000 will be released when it leads to the arrest of the person, or persons, responsible. 

I dont care about the money. There are bigger things going on. 

What? What do you mean? What things? 

In due time, Savage. 

You know my name? How—“ 

Inconsequential, dont you think? Right now, all I can say is thisRuth was having an affair. 

The click of the receiver on the other end told me the call was concluded. Shocked by the accusation, I stared at the phone, still in my hand. In a million years, Id never expected a call like that. I collapsed in a chair, trying to think things through. I concluded it had to be a joke perpetrated by someone that thought I hadnt suffered enough. I slammed the phone back into its stand and took my shower. My stomach was in knots. I was upset that someone was trying to put things in my head about the woman I still loved.

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