Welcome fellow Wild Rose Press Author Mary Gillgannon, here to share her wonderful writing cats and upcoming historical romance, Lady of Steel.
A CAT ON THE LAP…OR AT LEAST NEARBY
Nikki was my first writing cat. She sat on my lap as I wrote and edited nearly ten books. Most of the time she was content, happy to be perched on her “warm-blooded furniture”. But every once in a while something would upset her and she’d suddenly hiss and leap off for no reason.
I’ve always said that Nikki has PTSD. My sister-in-law found her in her backyard when Nikki was tiny, and one of the cutest kittens I’ve ever seen. (insert kitten picture). Even though my two children nicknamed her “gray bear”, patiently fed her kitten formula and moistened food, slept with her and took her with them everywhere they could, she never quite recovered from the terror of being abandoned by her mother, left on the cold, wet grass in the dark.
Despite her trauma, she has made it eighteen and a half years. She’s thin and feeble now, and cataracts have clouded her enigmatic green eyes. But like many great beauties, she retains much of her elegant allure.
Sadly, Nikki is no longer my writing cat. Seven years ago I moved my desk from a corner of the family room to a beautiful office in our newly remodeled upstairs. Nikki was never able to adapt to the transition, and although she sits on my lap when I watch TV or read, she no longer keeps me company while I write.
My writing cat these days is Benjamin. He doesn’t sit on my lap or even hang out with me much of the time. But he comes and visits me, slipping in the open window of my office in summer (which serves as the upstairs pet door in good weather). He chirps and mews, coaxing me to pet him, to go downstairs and get him treats or just coo nonsense back at him as he sprawls on my very messy desk.
In the course of my writing career, we’ve had six other cats besides Nikki and Benjamin, as well as two dogs. Out of all of them, Benjamin has been the only animal who sees me as his very favorite human and loves me more than anyone in the world. Most of the time he’d rather have me pet and talk to him than give him treats. He comes when I call his name and gazes at me with kingly adoration. When I travel on solo trips, he misses me almost much as my husband does.
Along with his sweet nature, Benjamin has exceptional dignity and gravitas, even for a cat, something my sister sought to capture when she painted this picture of him. (insert painting of Benjamin).
Animals have always been a huge part of my life. I’ve been obsessed with cats ever since I can remember. When I was eight I harassed my father, who thought he hated cats, into getting me my first kitten. Since then I’ve shared my life with over a dozen animals. Not all my pets have loved me the way Benjamin does, but they have enriched my life, calmed and comforted me, made me laugh (and cry when they died) and helped spark my creativity in many ways.
Beth: I loved hearing about your furbabies, Mary. Beautiful kitties.
Mary: I often include animals in my books. My upcoming release, Lady of Steel, features two tomcats, one of whom actually plays a part in the story. Lady of Steel will be released in early 2018, and although I don’t have a cover yet, I chose this classic medieval image to illustrate the mood of the book.
I see Lady of Steel as a feminist romance. Nicola of Valmar is a strong, independent woman living in the medieval era, a time when women had little power and no rights. Her challenge is not only to overcome the oppression and limitations of her world, but to learn to trust, and accept that a man can be a partner and a helpmate, instead of an adversary. Fawkes de Cressy, famed knight and acclaimed Crusader, is the perfect hero for her. For beneath his exterior of ruthless ambition and forbidding dominance, he remains the idealistic young squire who took her maidenhead with exquisite tenderness.
Fawkes’s eyes flared with violent emotion. “You forget. I knew Mortimer. He tried more than once to kill me. I have no sympathy for him. None at all.”
Nicola let out her breath. Perhaps now they could begin again, and he would stop playing this game of cat and mouse with her. She nodded. “I’m very grateful you understand. I’d worried you might have heard tales of me, stories meant to portray me as wicked and manipulative.”
He watched her intently. “Aye, I have heard tales. ’Tis good you saw fit to reassure me. Perhaps now, perhaps we can…”
He let his words trail off and the atmosphere between them shifted. His dark eyes no longer seemed stern and implacable, but smoldered with frank sexual desire. The tension between them altered, erupting with blazing arousal. Fire started in her loins and spread outward, making her skin ache for his touch. She tilted her head, awaiting his kiss.
He hesitated, as if even now he feared to take this final step and give into what his body obviously desired. Observing his forbearance, she thought for the dozenth time of how different he was from Mortimer. Mortimer had been a slave to his emotions. This man sought control at all times.
But at last he brought his lips to hers. The blaze took them both.
Beth: I am a fan of this time period and your story sounds fabulous.
Mary Gillgannon is the author of sixteen novels, primarily romances set in the dark age, medieval and Regency time periods. She’s married and has two children. Now that they’re grown, she indulges her nurturing tendencies on four very spoiled cats and a moderately spoiled dog. When not writing or working—she’s been employed at the local public library for twenty-seven years—she enjoys gardening, reading and travel.
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