January 11, 2013

an author's best friend

Blogger's Note: Today, my kittens (Jane and Bingley) and I are pleased to host Libby Mercer, who is on tour with her new book, Unmasking Maya. Check back Monday for my review of the novel (and read my review of her debut novel here).

An Author’s Best Friend
By Libby Mercer

Top row: Truman Capote, Doris Lessing, Jean Paul Sartre, Middle row:
Joyce Carole Oates, Raymond Chandler, Ernest Hemingway, Bottom row:
Mark Twain, Charles Bukowski, Patricia Highsmith

Perhaps you’ve heard about Hemingway’s cats, but were you aware of the magnitude of the celebrated author’s feline family? At one point, he had fifty-seven cats roaming the grounds of his Cuban estate. Fifty-seven! Ernest Hemingway was an extreme case, for sure, but the fact is quite a lot of our literary greats penned their prose with feline friends at their sides.

Illustrious and influential authors of classic literature aside, cats clearly play an important role in the lives of authors today. Take a glance at my Facebook newsfeed on an average day and you will likely find one or more of my friends chatting about their cats – and of course posting pictures of them. Sometimes it’s news of new kittens, and sometimes it’s a sad story about a beloved cat’s declining health. Other times, they’re just candid photos of frisky felines. In addition to pictures of their family pets, my friends also post silly cat pics with sassy captions they find floating around the Internet. Is it any surprise that the vast majority of my Facebook friends are authors?

It makes sense that so many authors choose kitties as their companions. They’re low maintenance, and for the most part, they can look after themselves, unlike our canine pals. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it would be to be on a roll with my writing, fingers flying across the keyboard as my story comes to life, and then suddenly have to halt the progress, find my shoes and take a dog down three flights of stairs for a romp in the park. Dogs need so much care and attention; they’re simply not an option for an urban, apartment-dwelling author like me. Cats just let you get on with it.

Well… this is usually the case. It was like this with my much-loved-but-sadly-no-longer-with-us cat, Priscilla. She’d spend the day napping next to me as I worked, and we’d cuddle in the evening. I had to say goodbye to her this past summer after her health rapidly declined, and after a couple of months on my own, I adopted two new kittens I’ve named Clementine and Atticus (yep, as in Finch.)

Clementine and Atticus are not what you’d call low maintenance. They both enjoy sitting in my lap when I’m at my desk, and as lovely as it is to be bonding with my darlings, it makes it difficult to work. Clementine wants to be petted constantly when she’s on my lap, so when I try to type something on the keyboard, she attacks my fingers.

Atticus is the one with a white patch over one of his eyes.

Atticus is a bit of a mystery. He’s very vocal and will sometimes sit on my lap, stare into my eyes and meow loudly. He’ll jump down, meander around for a bit, jump back up into my lap and meow some more. Needless to say, his odd behavior distracts me from my creative process.

And don’t even get me started on the fact that my desk is in the kitchen and both of them meow like crazy, wanting to be fed before their mealtime. I’m trying to keep them on a feeding schedule, but sometimes they succeed in wearing me down.

It is a bit of an adjustment to have these two fiery fur balls running all over the place after being with quietly observant Priscilla for so many years, but we’re finding our rhythm. They’re still babies, so I know they’ll calm down in time. And until then, I love watching them viciously attacking paper bags and chasing each other around. Hours of entertainment!

Let's take a poll. How many of you are rocking awesome cats with literary names, too? I suppose you can share your dogs, bunnies, hamsters and chinchillas, too. :)

About the Author
Born and raised in the Midwest, Libby Mercer’s adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she’s since lived in Boston, NYC and London. San Francisco is the city she currently calls home. For several years, Libby worked in fashion – first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper. She also dabbled in design for a while. Even through the crazy fashion years, Libby never let go of her dream of being a published author, and has since developed her signature writing style, crafting quirky chick lit/romance hybrids. Fashioning a Romance was her first published novel, and Unmasking Maya will be her second. Libby has a third novel, The Karmic Connection, scheduled for release in 2013.

About Unmasking Maya
Defamed, Disgraced and Displaced...

Fresh from a career-killing scandal, New York fashion girl, Maya Kirkwood, arrives in San Francisco to reinvent herself as a fine artist. She's offered the opportunity to create an installation at the Silicon Valley headquarters of a hot new tech company. Fabulous, right?

Not so much.

She can't stand Derek Whitley - wunderkind software genius and CEO of the company. Hot as he may be on the outside, inside the man is a cold, unemotional, robotic type. Way too left-brained for her right-brained self.

As Maya and Derek get to know each other, however, their facades begin to crack. She catches her first glimpse of the man behind the superhuman tech prodigy, and he starts to see her as the woman she used to be. But is this a good thing? Once that last secret is revealed, will it bring them closer together or will it tear them apart?

For More About Libby
Blog: http://libby-mercer.blogspot.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16147861-unmasking-maya
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LibbyMercer1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Libby-Mercer-Author/184901528274900
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Unmasking-Maya-ebook/dp/B00AN7CCV0/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

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  1. As Laura knows, I have a new bunny named Tonks - as in Nymphadora "Don't call me Nymphadora" Tonks from Harry Potter. She's just too adorable and has yet to change colour like her namesake does :-)

    1. Kaley, I love it that you named your new bunny Tonks! Definitely one of the most awesome Harry Potter characters. :-)

  2. I know, I know. Lots of people love cats, but I don't get it. I'm a dog kinda girl. Maybe that says something about my own need to be needed! LOL Seriously, this was a delight to read. I love learning more about the authors I enjoy.

    1. A delight? Thanks, Sharon! I know what you mean about needing to be needed. And as loving as cats can be, their love doesn't compare to a dog's devotion. (well... as loving as Priscilla was. These crazy kitties and I haven't bonded fully yet.)

  3. Great post. I've got 8 rescue cats, and they all have their own fab individual personalities. They even inspired me to write It's a Catastrophe, a children's Disney-style book about cats!

    1. Thanks, Sibel! Oh my goodness, I love, LOVE the title of your WIP, It's a Catastrophe. And how fun that you're using your rescue cats for inspiration!

  4. Great post. I'm sorry to hear about your Priscilla. Your new crew are adorable! And I'm like Sharon - I need to be needed, so it's dogs all the way for me! :) Besides, nothing like a long walk with the dog for letting the ideas roll around in your head. (I actually would like to get a cat, but I'm allergic!)

    1. Aw, thanks Jackie. I do still miss her a lot. And I totally get what you're both saying. In fact, I would like to have a dog at some point when I live in a bigger place (preferably a house). Good point about the ideas coming to you when you're walking the dog! Makes sense. I sometimes get my best ideas when I'm walking to/from the grocery store and whatnot.

  5. Well, the great thing about dogs is that they don't keep you up all night playing and making a ruckus (ahem, Clementine and Atticus), so I awake well-rested and can focus on my work during the day. Score one for dogs! :)

    I have always wanted to name a dog "Gatsby" after the titular character in one of my books, but have yet to do so! There are several Daisys (after Gatsby's beloved) in my neighborhood, though, and a Portia whose owner is clearly a Shakespeare fan.

    1. Ooops, meant to say that The Great Gatsby is one of my FAVORITE books, not to imply that I wrote it! :)

    2. This is true. Every night, it's an issue trying to get Clementine and Atticus to calm down so I can sleep. I'm thinking they'll grow out of this any day now. :-) A dog named Gatsby would be fabulous! And the dog named Portia made me think of that quote from A Fish Called Wanda:

      "When he found out that your daughter's name was Portia, he said, 'why did they name her after a car?'"

  6. I love the names of your cats, Libby! Like Jackie, I'm also allergic so it's got to be dogs for me, too. I never knew that about Hemingway, and I'm a huge fan of his. I always learn something from you!

  7. Thanks, Sam! And what a cool thing to say - that you always learn something from me. I really have enjoyed coming up with these guest posts and exploring all these different topics. Brings out the journalist in me, I think. I would have loved to have seen Hemingway's estate at the height of the cat population. :-)

  8. Awesome post! Your kitties are so adorable! :) My Abbie wasn't named after a literary character but a famous landmark--Westminster Abbey. She is a giant pain and I swear she's out to sabotage me (sleeping on my keyboard, tripping me in the middle of the night, not letting me sleep...) but adopting her from a shelter over ten years ago was one of the best decisions I ever made! :)

    1. Aw, thanks Cat! LOL. Uh oh - you mean she didn't grow out of that rambunctious late night behavior? I agree. Kitties can be a handful sometimes, but they can be so sweet I can't imagine a life with no furry friends. :-)