When I first began writing the Cat Lady Mysteries for
Kensington Lyrical, I realized all too quickly that I'd swallowed one giant
hairball of a project. For a few terrifying moments, panic set in. How could I
write about a dozen or so cats living in one household? Wouldn't it seem like,
well . . . just too many cats?
After sucking in a few deep breaths and gulping back a hearty swig of coffee, I
reminded myself: You're writing this for all the cat lovers out there . . .
and they can never have too many cats.
So, with that mantra ringing in my head, I scurried over to my keyboard and
started typing. To my surprise, I was easily able to imagine myself living in
the quaint Folk Victorian home on a gentle hill in New Hampshire that eventually
becomes the cat shelter. In my head I saw the rooms—the large and small parlors,
the eat-in kitchen with myriad cat bowls lined up along one wall, and the back
porch that would eventually become the shelter's meet-and-greet room. Even more
important, I could clearly picture the cats: the black feral with a white
'stache, the cuddly calico sibs, the slender gray girl and her two kittens, and
all the other furry felines who called the place home.
With the setting firmly entrenched in my mind, I began writing the first book in
the series. My challenge was to achieve a balance between a strong mystery and
enough feline activity to appeal to readers who love cats as much as I do. A
slight paranormal twist in the form of an elusive Ragdoll cat added an extra
level of intrigue to the story.
The first book in the series, ESCAPE CLAWS, introduces
Lara Caphart, a struggling watercolor artist who hasn't seen her aunt in New
Hampshire in over sixteen years. Lara was only eleven when her folks moved out
of state, wrenching her away from the beloved aunt who'd nurtured her as a
child. To Lara's dismay, her folks cut off communication with Aunt Fran, which
effectively isolated her from the family. Over time Lara adapted to her
surroundings and made new friends. But why, when she reached adulthood, did she
never try to contact her aunt? Especially when she lived only a few hours away?
It was a theme I wrestled with, but I've since given it a lot of thought.
Have you ever lost touch with someone important in your life? Someone you
drifted away from for no apparent reason, or maybe for a silly reason? Someone
you later wanted desperately to reconnect with but were afraid might reject you?
When Lara seeks out her aunt after sixteen years, she's anxious and worried and
fearful. Will her aunt slam the door in her face? She's not sure, but she's
ready to take the plunge. Their initial meeting is rocky, but then the cats
enter the scene. Both women love cats, but now Aunt Fran needs help caring for
hers. It is through their interaction with a household overflowing with felines
that Lara and her aunt repair their relationship. By the time I completed the
manuscript, I realized that it was not simply a murder mystery with a bunch of
cats tossed in. It was a story that explored the all too human themes of
isolation, forgiveness, and healing, with the cats playing a pivotal role.
CLAWS OF DEATH, the
second Cat Lady Mystery, explores other themes: long-buried grudges, ancient
animosities, and a seemingly harmless action that has long-lasting consequences.
Raised in a sleepy town in the Berkshires, Linda Reilly is the author
of the Cat Lady Mysteries from Kensington Lyrical, and the Deep Fried Mysteries
from Berkley Prime Crime. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, she is a member of
Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. When she's not hunched over her
keyboard dreaming up murder and mayhem, she's curled up in her favorite chair
reading an enticing mystery.
The meow of death . . .
Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, is a long way from Hollywood, but it's the place
legendary actress Deanna Daltry wants to call home. Taking up residence in a
stone mansion off Cemetery Hill, the retired, yet still glamorous,
septuagenarian has adopted two kittens from Lara Caphart's High Cliff Shelter
for Cats. With help from her Aunt Fran, Lara makes sure the kitties settle in
safely with their new celebrity mom.
But not everyone in town is
a fan of the fading star. Deanna was in Whisker Jog when she was younger,
earning a reputation for pussyfooting around, and someone is using that
knowledge against her. After being frightened by some nasty pranks, Deanna finds
herself the prime murder suspect when the body of a local teacher is found on
her property. Now, it's up to Lara, Aunt Fran, and the blue-eyed Ragdoll mystery
cat Lara recently encountered to collar a killer before another victim is
pounced upon . . .
Mystery Pet Lovers
[Lyrical Press Underground, On Sale: June 26, 2018,
e-Book, ISBN: 9781516104178 / eISBN: 9781516104178]
To celebrate the June 26 release of CLAWS OF DEATH, Linda
Reilly is giving away one Amazon Kindle version of the e-book. To enter, leave a
comment below or enter above to get more entries!
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