Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hendon, C.S. Graham, Cats, and England: Answering Ask Me Anything Monday

Angel was my mom's old cat; he's now 17.

From Judith at Goodreads: Will Things get better between Sebastian and his father?

The book I'm writing now, which has the working title WHERE THE DEAD LIE (due out March 2017), sees Sebastian and  Hendon united in their opposition to the betrothal of Hendon's granddaughter (Amanda's daughter), Stephanie, to a charming but decidedly nasty heir to a marquis. This has been a very emotional book to write; the scene I was working on the other day had me literally crying.

Huckleberry and Thomasina. These two were mine from before Steve and I married; Huck is almost 15  and Thomasina is at least 17-18.

From Mary at Goodreads, Will we ever see any more stories from C. S. Graham?

I loved writing the Tobie and Jax books, and I think it helped keep the Sebastian series fresh when I could write something else in between (one of the dangers of a long-running series is that the writer can get tired of it). But it was just too much for me, trying to keep both series going. When my mom fell ill and moved in with me, I almost went crazy and decided I had to drop one. Even though she is now gone, I don't think I could manage both series at once, at least not for two different publishers. So I guess the short answer is, I have another C.S. Graham idea in my head that I'd love to write but I'm not sure I'll ever get the chance. Once a series is allowed to go cold like that, publishers are reluctant to pick it up again. Probably the only way it could happen is if someone made a movie. But while we had tons of interest, nothing ever came of it.

Banjo and Scout, our shaky kittens.

Toni asked, How do you take care of all your cats with your busy schedule?

It isn't anywhere near as difficult now as it was during the Year of the Shaky Kittens. To be frank, caring for our two little handicapped babies took a huge toll on both Steve and I. Hand feeding them three times a day (for the first several months it was four), keeping them clean, and just holding and cuddling them took an enormous amount of time and required us to get up an hour earlier before Steve went to work and usually kept us up late at night. But my Banjo died in June of last year, and we lost Scout in October. And then we lost Indie, my little darling who left us far too soon this last March.

The rest of the guys aren't much trouble. Thomasina, the calico female in the bottom bunk in the picture above, now spends most of her time in Baton Rouge with my younger daughter. I feed and cuddle the rest of the gang first thing in the morning before I go for my walk (Huck and Angel get a med that needs to be sprinkled on wet food). In the evening, before I go to bed, I sit with the Marmalades again for a couple of hours and read (Roscoe and Peanut live in a part of the upstairs that is closed off by a glass door because Huck doesn't like them) while Steve goes out and sits and reads with the Pee Cats (Nora and Whiskies live on our fifty foot screened in gallery because they have "elimination issues"). Angel and Huck (and Tommy Girl when she's here) are free to roam the rest of the house (Huck doesn't like Angel, either, but Angel can hold his own), and they cuddle next to me (or ON me) during the day while I write.

The worst part of it all is that Steve and I really can't go away together for more than a night. I have friends who would be willing to come refresh water and food and litter boxes, but I can't ask people to come twice a day and administer medicine (Angel has another med that we squirt in his mouth at night and Huck gets a different med sprinkled on his bedtime snack). I can't board them, either, because Huck's problems are the result of a near fatal reaction to his last vaccines and the vet told me to never give them to him again. Which is probably way more than you wanted to know, but does explain why I went to England last June and poor Steve stayed home to cat sit!

Roscoe and Peanut. Technically, these two belong to Sam. I'm not holding my breath. They're six years old.

Caroline asked, Do you miss living in England, and if so, what?

I do miss it, yes. To be frank, I'd go back if I could (well, as long as I could pick one of the warmest, sunniest bit, and maybe also had a little house in Spain for the dead of winter!) I miss being able to drive over the hill and visit everything from a castle to a thousand year old church to a Roman ruin. I absolutely adore the beautiful gardens (when I was there this last time I was threatening to come home and rip up all my roses because they are so sad here in comparison). I love tearooms and neighborhood pubs and lovely little villages that made you ache for times gone past.  I could go on and on, but I think the thing I love most is how wonderfully polite and funny the people are.

Indie, my little darling

I have three more questions to answer, about Jamie Knox and Sebastian and 19th century intellectual history, but each of those will be long enough to require a post to itself.

Whiskies (sibling to Roscoe and Peanut, and mentally "slow" since birth)  and Nora (now 15, the sole survivor of the three cats Steve had when we married) on the porch swing. At the other end of the gallery are heated and air conditioned little houses for when it gets too cold or too hot. Yes, we are crazy.

17 comments:

Maureen said...

Oh my God!!!! I didn't realize just how many cats you have, almost a cat shelter. They are all lucky to have you and husband to love and care for them.

I so agree with you on England. We have spent 5 weeks there the last 2 years, in London, Devon, Cornwall, the Cotswolds, and some in Wales and Scotland. There is so much history...I drive my husband nuts because I drag him to country house to battlefield to museum. We both like the pubs. Everyone is very friendly to us "colonials." And I agree that the gardens are stunning; I come home inspired to plant, plant and try new (to me ) species.

cs harris said...

Maureen, your trips to England sound wonderful. And yes, our cat situation is crazy. That's what happens when two people with cats marry and then inherit cats from the generations above and below them.

Amy said...

Good questions and great answers. I go through the same problems with my herd of cats whenever I want to go out of town : )

Charles Gramlich said...

Thank goodness those sweet kitties had you two angels to look after them. Not that Steve looks much like an angel. But I know him well enough to know he's got an angel's heart at least. :)

Ali said...

Candy - its amazing how much you do accomplish with everyone and everything you have to do. Bravo. I think it just means you have a lot of love to give and those sweet kitties are some of the lucky ones. I have not been to England in years but always loved my trips to the country the most. The old churches and villages and pubs. Anything that reminded me of long ago and a time when there were no cars or phones or even electricity. Peaceful is what comes to mind the most. Great pictures - they look so happy. Does anyone try to knock the pen out of your hand when you write. My Siamese did that all the time! Best, Ali

cs harris said...

Amy, it really is a problem!

Charles, he is an angel in disguise.

Ali, yes, it is that sense of peace, and touching a simpler time long ago. And yes, Angel does knock my pen out of my hand. He can be a real pain.

Susan J. said...

I like your description of England. It's a shame it's not all like that here, the inner cities are not very nice at times and even the pretty villages are not always all they seem. Young people cannot afford the houses and have to move away from their homes to find work and the villages, particularly down south, are more and more the preserve of the wealthy retired. I agree about the humour, I would miss that most if I moved abroad.
Looking at your pretty cats reminded me of a lovely story I saw on the local BBC news recently about a Lincolnshire lady whose twenty four year old cat saved her life by alerting her to a cancerous lump by keeping tapping her shoulder with its paw. It was usually rather independent and ignored her, so she couldn't understand why it suddenly kept sitting on her lap. You can see a clip about it on www.scunthorpetelegraph.co.uk/cat-saved-life-alerting-lump-neck/story-27766899-detail/s. Apparently she told him it was OK, she had been to the doctor now, he could stop tapping her and he did! (Scunthorpe is a Lincolnshire town).

Anonymous said...

Wait - Tommy Girl?? You snuck a new one in on us. I don't remember her. You and Steve are saints. I've seen pics and have followed all the rest in your various posts, but it seems overwhelming seeing them all listed in the same post. It must be bedlam when you daughters visit along with their pets (I seem to recall a rescue dog amongst them). Oooo....a book with Amanda vs. Hendon/Sebastian, as I'm sure Amanda loves Stephanie's potential beau, being an heir to a title. I'm rubbing my hands together in anticipation - I love to hate Amanda. And to see her come up against Hero; that will be just delightful. I also seem to recall she has some papers from the first book in her possession. Hmmm... Although, if you are crying that isn't such a great sign. Good luck with the story and, as always, can't wait the year and half still to wait for it. Sabena

cs harris said...

Susan, yes, I know what you mean because I spent a lot of time up around Newcastle and Sunderland when my stepdaughter was young. But I try to focus on the parts I love. And that's a neat story about the Lincolnshire lady.

Sabena, Tommy Girl is Thomasina. The Christmas before last, my two daughters went to their English half-sister's wedding and brought us their cats (at the time, Sam had three and Danielle had one). That was when we still had Banjo and Scout (but fortunately before Sam had the dog), so for three weeks we were taking care of twelve unhappy cats! We almost went insane.

Rachel Walsh said...

Your cats are all gorgeous. And I love the gallery and their air conditioned houses!

We have an outdoor cat enclosure for our two indoor boys, rather like a mesh aviary on the lawn complete with a little spiral stair case and an elevated cat hammock. It's connected to the house via a cat flap in the window and a meshed-in tunnel they love racing up and down. It lets them commune with nature without being bitten by it (brown snake central where we live in the Adelaide foothills) and without them decimating it.

And yes, we're crazy too. ;-)

JustWingingIt said...

I'm so glad to hear that Sebastian and Hendon will have to deal with each other in the 2017 book. Next to Sebastian and Hero I think theirs is the relationship in which I'm most emotionally invested. And I agree with Sabena that hopefully we'll get to see Hero square off with Amanda in that book as well. I'd buy popcorn and ringside seats for that one!

Love seeing your cats' pictures and reading about the love, time, and work you and Steve put in to care for them. What big hearts you have! But family does for family, don't they? The cat bunk bed is too cute. *grin*

Veronica

Anonymous said...

Where did you get the Cat Bunk Beds?? My daughter's cants would love them.
**I just love your books

cs harris said...

Rachel, your cat enclosure sounds wonderful. I wish I had another porch for the rest of my guys. Huck still howls to go out there.

Veronica, the Amanda-Hero square-off won't come in this book, but it will come!

Anon, they're old doll bunk beds that were in storage from when my girls were little. I set them aside for Goodwill, and Huck said, "I'll take that!" He's loved it ever since, and Thomasina occasionally joins him.

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