Characters sometimes throw open a door while I’m writing, demanding to be part of the story. In the case of my Viola Valentine mysteries, a cat walked in.
Stinky the psychic cat shows up at Viola’s door in book two, “Ghost Town,” a stray cat looking for food and company. I say psychic because he spreads out on papers that offer clues to her mysteries, winks when she gets the right idea, and howls at those who are less than savory people. And in book three, “Trace of a Ghost,” Stinky comes to her rescue.
I got the idea of Stinky from an experience I had long ago. My husband and I, along with our best friend Warren, were enjoying the outdoor mall in Santa Monica when we stumbled upon a man and his cat, the latter he claimed was psychic. You could have a reading done by this cat if you paid a certain price. We all thought it was funny but I had a minor character in my contemporary romance, “Ticket to Paradise,” base her film thesis at UCLA on psychic cats.
And then, over the years, I’ve had my own felines. I’m convinced there’s something happening behind those mysterious gazes they send you. And what’s with the winking? However, I doubt any of my cats would come to my rescue.
Back to Stinky…he’s orange and white, just like my sister’s cat Lumiere (above, right), who’s one of the sweetest cats you’ll ever meet, albeit a lot shier than Stinky. I used his photo — and he poses! — on my Viola Valentine boards on Pinterest and include him here.
Then Tsu Tsu came along (left), a gift of author Christee Gabour Atwood, narrator of my audiobook of A Ghost of a Chance, the first Viola Valentine mystery. She has a household of cats and poor little Tsu Tsu was taking the brunt from several of her male felines. She thought Tsu Tsu would do better in a household without such drama so I agreed to adopt her. She’s orange with white paws and chest and equally sweet, although I wonder what mischief she got into as a kitten to be named Tsunami, Tsu Tsu for short. And as sweet as she is, she can be naughty too, sleeping on my desk, scratching up the walls, opening cabinets looking for Temptations, those cat treats.
As if I didn’t have enough feline energy in my household — my 16-year-old black cat Annabelle still reigns as queen — Mookie Betts (right) came along. A friend was asking for adoptees for his litter of kittens. He had picked up a stray and brought her home to love but a few weeks later realized there was more to her than he bargained for. I’m usually pretty good at saying no to more animals (my husband is laughing as I write this) but something told me to visit. And we came home with another orange and white cat named for my husband’s favorite Red Sox player. Mookie is a rascal to the max but we love him.
So, who is Stinky. Maybe all three.