So in honor of Rocco’s blogaversary, I’ve agreed to write a post, and needed to figure out something that would be both about books and about cats. (It actually wasn’t presented to me that way, but I figured it was only correct and appropriate that I do so…)
I realized that within the amazing subset of my client lists that is comprised of cozy mystery writers, I had quite a number who write about, either primarily or peripherally, cats. Sometimes, as with Rocco’s own Toni LoTempio, the cats are the foci of the book. Nick (who’s based somewhat clearly on a dashing feline with a blog) quite directly assists Nora in solving crimes.
Sometimes, as in Sheila Webster Boneham’s mysteries, the cats are important, but somewhat less anthropomorphic. They certainly play significant roles, but get directly involved on the crime front only occasionally (albeit importantly). One difference in Sheila’s books is that Sheila writes about many more animals than cats—a dog is vital, one of her books has a story arc about birds, and the theme of the series is Animals in Focus rather than, say, Cats on Film.
Finally there is Jeff Cohen, in whose E.J. Copperman books there is nary a cat. Or I should say there WAS nary a cat, because one day, before the second Copperman book came out, I got a call from Jeff.
“Man, I don’t understand my publisher. A full third of the cover is taken up by a large, serene cat. And you know what’s funny about that?”
“There’s not ONE DARN CAT IN THE BOOK! I don’t even LIKE cats!” (Don’t worry, Cozy Readers, he’s still a nice guy!)
We called his wonderful editor and explained the problem.
“Tough,” said Shannon. “We love the cover. He needs to put in a cat.”
So on one page in An Uninvited Ghost, a cat walks across the lawn. And gets a third of the cover and the spine drawing. It wins Best Supporting Actor with less screen time than Judy Dench in Shakespeare in Love.
I find this all fascinating, and a little baffling. On the other hand, it goes along with any genre. Romances have their particular requirements (not simply a bare-chested cat—er, guy—on the cover); so do Westerns and noir and many science fiction novels. They sell books. And that’s why we have cats that spell, cats that drive, cats that teach Spanish, cats that scuba dive, and of course, cats who solve crimes like Rocco—I mean Nick!
Happy Blogaversary, Rocco!