This is a tale–or perhaps a tail–of two literary kitties.
In 2016, Carolyn Haines invited me to be a part of a new project. She’d once written a series of romantic mysteries featuring a black cat detective named Familiar, a Sam Spade type with a soft spot for humans. In each book, he helped solve a mystery and bring a couple together. Familiar isn’t one of the eponymous kitties, but he is their literary–and in one case, biological–ancestor.
“Wouldn’t it be fun,” Carolyn said, “to write a new series about Familiar’s son, with several authors writing them? And then we’d all promote each other’s books?”
It did sound like fun. Each author’s plots, settings, and other characters would be our own, but we’d share the same cat, a sleek black fellow named Trouble. The first of the Two Kitties.
He was a chip off the old block when it came to detecting, but more modern and more genteel. More Benedict Cumberbatch than Sam Spade. An anglophile who grew up watching Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, Trouble was an Alabama cat with a British accent and a gourmand’s palate. I loved the idea. I loved him.
“Only one problem,” I said. “I don’t write romance.”
“Oh, I think you could,” she said. And that was that.
And it was fun. The other authors and I dubbed ourselves the Mad Catters, and I’ve never met a lovelier group of authors. Some of us wrote full-length novels, and a few more of us contributed short stories to Trouble anthologies. Because of other commitments, I only wrote one full-length book in the series. It was #11, set at a Renaissance Faire, with a potbellied pig named Tuck as a sidekick, and, for a long-time fantasy-lover and a once-upon-a-time SCA member, it was an absolute blast to write.
But all good things must come to an end, and Carolyn, who juggles her animal rescue with her career as a USA-today best-selling author (check out her Sarah Booth Delaney series!), decided that a publishing company was one thing too many. She graciously returned our rights and gave us permission to re-publish the books–as long as we replaced Trouble with a different cat.
It took some thought to find a feline sleuth who could fill Trouble’s pawprints, but I’m excited to announce the new cat in town. Marley’s first human, a struggling young actor named Andy, jokingly dubbed him Marley the Great following his stage debut in a community theatre production of A Christmas Carol. The tiny tuxedo kitten played the pet of the youngest urchin and spent most of the play peering out of the youngster’s pocket.
Of course, he stole the show.
His first appearance in a full-length novel will be in November 2023, a Christmas book set during a community theatre production of–you guessed it–A Christmas Carol. The book is an homage to his first stage performance. Book #11 of the Trouble series, originally titled Trouble Most Faire, will be re-published as A Caterbury Tail in November, 2023, with Marley as the feline detective.
But you don’t have to wait to meet Marley. Just subscribe to The Cat’s Meow email list, and you’ll not only get a free short story, you’ll get sneak peaks of upcoming books, a monthly contest, cat-related fun facts, and more. You’ll even have opportunities to share about your own special pet.
See you inside!