Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Old London

Ever wonder what it would be like to take a stroll through old London?

A team of students from a university in Leicester have created a wonderful, detailed, 3D animation of the streets of London before the Great Fire of 1666, based on an original map of the area around Pudding Lane (which is where the fire started, by the way). This is 150 years before the Regency period, but there were lots of parts of London--namely the older, poorer parts--that still looked like this in Sebastian's time. So come with me, back in time...

For more about the production, see

Huckleberry update: One of the last of numerous tests our vet ran actually uncovered what was wrong with my baby. He's now undergoing a brutal three week antibiotic treatment, which on top of seventeen days of fever is taking its toll. But he's still hanging in there, and we're hopeful he's going to make it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cautiously Optimistic!

Huck's fever has finally broken and stayed down for three days now. He's starting to eat and drink on his own, and slowly regaining strength, so we're hopeful he really has finally turned the corner and is on the mend.

Our vets never did figure out what caused it, and I'm still terrified that my other cats will come down with whatever it was. But I'm over the moon and very, very grateful to still have my baby with me.

Needless to say, I've written almost nothing the past two weeks. But I have received a box of ARCs for Why Kings Confess, and I'll be posting a photo soon. My publishers have also started redoing the covers of the first eight books in the Sebastian series, and hopefully I'll get approval to show you the first of those new covers within a few weeks.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Six Days of Hell and Counting

My big black cat, Huckleberry, fell ill with a strange, raging high fever on Saturday morning and has been barely hanging on ever since. Blood tests indicate it's a virus that attacks the white blood cells. We've no clue where he got it, since he's an indoor cat and we've been very, very careful to observe good hygiene practices with the new kittens, which are still isolated. He was the first such case the vet had seen but they've now had four more come in. So New Orleans cat owners, be warned.

It's a nasty, nasty bug, and Huck is barely hanging on with the help of regular subcutaneous fluids and anti-inflamatories. He's neither eating nor drinking, and has spent the last six days simply curled up in the rocking chair beside my bed. He was in great shape before this hit, but he's now twelve, almost thirteen, and I'm not sure how much more of this my poor little sweetheart can take.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some Questions on Characters

Rebecca asked: Are any of your characters based on real people, historical or living, loosely or firmly? 

The murder victim in What Darkness Brings was loosely inspired by an historical figure,  a diamond merchant named Daniel Eliason who is known to have possessed the Hope Diamond in September of 1812. But that was all I knew about him; the nasty, twisted character of my victim, Daniel Eisler, was all my own invention.  Sometimes I will take isolated aspects of people I know and use them--a physical characteristic, a personality trait, a gesture, a habit of speech. But I rarely go beyond that. Only when I'm using a known historical figure, such as the Prince Regent, or Marie Antoinette's daughter, or Jane Austen, do I try very hard to make my portrayals as accurate and true to the person as I can. But usually my characters just....come. It's a rather magical experience, and one of the aspects of writing I find most enjoyable.

Paz wrote: "My questions are all about Tom. I am terribly intrigued by Sebastian's relationship to him... What inspired the character? Do you have plans to develop Tom's backstory? How do you see Tom's relationship with Sebastian developing?" 

This is a tad embarrassing because the truth is I don't remember exactly what was going through my head ten years ago now when I came up with the character of Tom. He was one of those characters who leapt off the page as I was writing and quickly became far more than I'd envisioned. I do know that his backstory was inspired by a book I read long ago, The Women of Botany Bay, about the mothers who were transported from England to Australia and how many of them were forced to leave their children behind to simply fend for themselves. As a mother, that always horrified me.

I have very much enjoyed Sebastian's interactions with Tom, how it brings out sides of Sebastian we don't otherwise see. I have toyed with the idea of doing more with his backstory in a future book, but whether I do or not will probably depend on whether it fits in well with one of the murders. As for how I see Tom's relationship with Sebastian developing, it will obviously shift as Tom grows older. Exactly how, I don't think I'll plan. I try to let those sorts of things develop naturally.

And if your wondering about my CH kittens, we almost lost them last weekend after they reacted badly to some aspect of their vet visit. We're now bottle feeding them kitten formula every 4-6 hours, and they're slowly regaining strength, although they still can't stand up or feed themselves. It's all been very emotional and exhausting and time consuming. Although the silver lining is that my once wild kittens are now tame little sweethearts who love nothing better than to be held and petted and told how much they're loved.

Friday, October 04, 2013

And Babies Make...You Don't Want to Know

About two months ago, my daughter looked out her apartment window to see a mama cat and three kittens on her patio. Then the mama cat and one of the kittens went away, leaving these two guys...

It didn't take my daughter long to realize there was something seriously wrong with these kittens. They shake. Constantly. And when they try to walk, they fall over. At first we thought they had some deadly disease, but it turns out they're not sick; what they have is cerebellar hypoplasia, basically the kitty form of cerebral palsy.

I did not want to adopt these guys. I already have a house full of cats (in addition to the usual crew, I'm also currently taking care of two of my older daughter's cats while she's in San Antonio). And CH cats have elimination issues. Except that unlike our other cats with minor elimination issues, theirs are pretty extreme. And they can't live on the porch because they don't have the coordination to walk on those widely spaced boards. But they were barely surviving by hiding amongst my daughter's flower pots and eating the food she put out for them, and with a hurricane barreling down on us....

I now have two new kittens. We took them to the vet today, and thank heavens they found nothing wrong with them except the cerebellar hypoplasia. I thought they were about four months old but they're actually six months, even though they barely weigh two pounds, the poor things.

In preparation for the new arrivals, everyone else in the house had to go to the vet and get their shots ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$), too. I was truly embarrassed to take Whiskies. He now weighs twenty pounds!

And in case you're wondering, the new kittens' names are Scout (a girl, on the right) and Banjo, her brother. Banjo has a moderately severe form of CH, while Scout is more mild to moderate. And yes, this is insane. But what else could I do?