In my first novel, To Hiss or to Kiss, the heroine communicates with animals telepathically. She has two cats, and one is based on my cat, Sundance. Unfortunately, we lost Sundance a year ago—and just a few weeks before the book released. My husband and I miss him terribly, but he will live on in my book in some of the mannerisms of Chloe’s cat Enoki. The book is dedicated to him. Enoki is a mainstay character in the next two books in my Hidden Lines series.
The first day I met Sundance, I was volunteering at the humane society and showing another cat to a couple looking for a new addition to their family. The wife was holding Eduardo when the husband walked up with Sundance, who promptly bit the man’s hat and then gave a loud meow as he gave us an innocent look. We all had a good laugh, but the couple didn’t do home with either Sundance or Eduardo. The two cats left an impression on me, though, and my husband and I adopted them together a few days later.
When they came home, they stayed in the lower level of our house to get acclimated before meeting our other cats, Ringo and Hermes. A few hours later I went to check on the pair and couldn’t find them. A search ensued until I discovered them curled up together behind the bathroom door. They were instant buddies.
Here are some of Sundance’s attributes that inspired Enoki. He was a big cat and entirely ungraceful by cat standards. A random array of freckles circled his mouth and on his nose, adding to his goofy countenance. Even when affectionate he was uncoordinated, his head butt never quite hitting the exact mark and throwing him a bit off balance. However, he always knew when I was upset and needed an awkward head butt to make me feel better.
Despite his gentle nature, his meow was incredibly loud. Think a Siamese-style wail. His soft version sounded like he said “mmrrpp.” He would chase a laser pen in a circle until he was so dizzy he couldn’t walk straight, and then would come back for more. I’d circle him one way and then “unwind” him the other way. He also loved to play with his tail. If you’d like to see a video of him doing just that, go here.
Eduardo was never the same after Sundance’s passing, and he followed his best friend a few months later. Both lived a good life with us, and we miss them every day.
But with loss, also comes new beginnings. We recently added two cats to our family, Raj and Lars. Raj is perhaps the laziest cat I’ve ever met. He perpetually looks like he’s stoned. Lars likes to interrupt my writing. After all, it’s much more important that I pet him.
I’ve been blessed to have many animals in my life, both my own and the ones I care for through my volunteerism and work in the animal care field. Whenever you read about an animal in my books, know they are always inspired by an animal I’ve met along the way. Also know I wouldn’t be writing without them.
Title: To Hiss or to Kiss
Publisher: Etopia Press
Date Published: March 2013
Genre: erotic paranormal romance
Word Count: 70K
Blurb: Chloe can “talk” to animals…so why can she hear the thoughts of this hot, green-eyed man?
Abandoned by her mother and raised by a father who’d given up on life, Chloe doesn’t let anyone get close. Lucky for her, she can communicate with animals—telepathically. Her long hours at the animal shelter help her cope with the stress, and the animals are the only people she needs. But when a suspected dog-fighting ring comes to her attention, Chloe decides to do a little spying. And in her rush to win the dogs’ trust, she almost gets herself caught.
Until a sexy stranger intervenes, and she finds she can overhear his thoughts. She’s never been able to hear people, and this man’s about as sexy as she’s ever seen. It’s more than intellectual curiosity that drives her to discover his secret: he’s a jaguar shape-shifter, and the presence of this cat among the dogs might be a bit too much to handle. But the animal attraction is just too hot to resist, and the passion between them makes both the sparks—and the fur—fly…
Oh God, I am such a moron. Who just meets a guy, gets tackled by him in the dark when sneaking around on someone else’s property, shares secrets, goes to his house, and gets all hot and bothered? What the hell is wrong with me? And I so know better than to drink too much. I can’t even remember the last time I had a hangover and it’s sure as hell never been over a man. A man whom I trusted.Actually, I’m not sure I ever really trusted him, but I came closer than with any other stranger I’ve ever met. So there’s that.My navy comforter is knotted in my hands, and Sashi is looking at me like I’ve really, truly, finally gone off the deep end. I realize I’m anthropomorphizing her. She doesn’t really think I’m insane; she’s way too rational for that. Sometimes knowing what cats really think ruins a perfectly good image, though. And a lot of jokes on the Internet.Enoki comes in with his characteristic loud meow, jumps up, and awkwardly head butts me. His concern is palpable and his presence helps calm me down. I scratch his head, really wanting to hug him but knowing he doesn’t much like it. Then I hear him. “You can hug me, Chloe. Seems you need it.”I almost start crying as I bunch him in my arms.He even starts to purr. “I know you like it,” he tells me.I have the best cats, and I determine not to sulk all day over another cat.
I like books that are funny and fun to read (and hot!) but also make me think or look at the world in a new way.
These days you’ll find me writing, pet sitting, juggling a number of freelance gigs, and reigning as my home’s domestic goddess. I live in the Midwestern U.S. with my husband, dog and cats. Alas, I have, as of yet, been unable to teach my husband how to purr.
The Second Book in the Hidden Lines Series, To Growl or to Groan, is also available. The third book, To Snarl or to Snuggle, is in the works.