I am very excited to welcome Irish Writer Roisín Meaney to Swirl and Thread today on my #IrishWritersWed weekly feature.
Roisín is the author of many novels with her latest, The Street Where You Live due for imminent release.
Roisín has written an enchanting piece for us all entitled ‘ The Cat, The Book and Me’, a lovely post about the influence of cats on Roisín from a young age right through to her books today.
I do so hope you enjoy…
The Cat, the Book and Me
by Roisín Meaney
Once upon a time we had a cat. Her name was Tiger (we were young when we named her) and she was the epitome of cat perfection. Gentle, easygoing, affectionate, patient. This last quality was pretty essential, as there were seven of us, all wanting her attention, all wanting to ‘play’ with the poor patient creature.
We never looked for Tiger: she came to us. She turned up in our garden one day when we lived in Tipperary and we fell on her and fed her, and wheeled her around the garden in the enormous pram that had housed us all in its day, and she stayed. She hadn’t been spayed, and I’m guessing my parents didn’t deem that job worthy of their hard-earned cash, so every so often Tiger produced a litter of gorgeous little fur-balls, and our hearts broke as we found homes.
In due course we moved from Tipperary to Limerick. Lord knows how my father did it, but he managed to squeeze us, our luggage and our mother into the car on moving day.
Halfway to Limerick, we realised we’d forgotten Tiger.
Our father said nothing.
He didn’t have to – his black face said it all. We didn’t dare breathe as he turned the car around.
Tiger was with us for many years. In the end she went away to die. At least, I can only assume that’s what she did. She’d been getting slower, we could all see it, and one time I looked out the kitchen window and my heart nearly stopped as I saw her falling out of the neighbour’s tree. She landed semi-awkwardly, but appeared uninjured – but I think that was when I realised it was the beginning of the end. When she disappeared, and we gave up calling for her, we mourned her for a while, and then we got another cat. And another after that. And another after that. We’d got into the habit of a cat; it was a hard one to break.
When I moved into my own house, many years later, top of my list of things to fill it with was a cat. Before I got a chance to get one, two came to me. They appeared on my windowsill shortly after I moved in. I fed them, they ate, they stayed. I discovered that they were both females, both spayed. I tried to find owners in the neighbourhood – they looked too well fed to be strays – but no owners materialised, so I hung on to them.
In the fullness of time they went the way of all old, tired cats, within months of one another. (I don’t think they were related – they weren’t remotely alike in appearance, but they were certainly close.)
After a year of mourning I replaced them with Fred and Ginger, a pair of sibling kittens who should have been arrested for serious overuse of cuteness to distract me from my writing. They’re eighteen months old now, and with me as I tap at the keys: Fred has his nose in the trough (a familiar position for him) and Ginger is out for the count after a night on the prowl (nothing is safe with her).
You can see that cats have featured large in my life to date. Little wonder then that when I started on the writing lark I decided that no book of mine would be without a cat of some description.
My first book, ‘The Daisy Picker’, featured Bustopher Jones, who accompanied our heroine Lizzie O’Grady in her search to find a life. There was a stray in ‘One Summer’ that appeared briefly to snatch whatever food was about; there was a half-feral cat in ‘The Reunion’ that lived in Florence’s garden for years, but that nobody dared approach.
In my latest book, ‘The Street Where You Live’, a neighbour’s cat hops up on Molly Griffin’s garden wall every so often. In Something in Common, Helen, no lover of cats, finds herself saddled with the one that used to live with Malone, the neighbour she never spoke to, after Malone is carted off in an ambulance. In a slightly similar scenario in ‘The People Next Door’, Dan is left with his wife’s cat, with whom he has always had an uneasy relationship, when said wife absconds with Dan’s uncle. (She can’t bring the cat with her: the uncle is allergic.)
My fictional cats have certainly been around.
I’ve just realised that the book I’m currently working on has no feline in it – yet. Luckily, I’m only ten thousand words in, so I have plenty of time.
The cat will arrive, in some shape or form: it wouldn’t be a Roisin Meaney book without it.
Roisin thank you so much for such a gorgeous post today. I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely story and I hope you all did too.
If you wish to find out more about Roisin and all her books please do check out the links below aswell as a short bio about Roisin.
In 2001 Roisin Meaney (Kerry born, Limerick based) took a year off teaching and travelled to San Francisco to write The Daisy Picker, which won a two book publishing deal with Tivoli Books. In 2008, with four published novels under her belt, she gave up the day job to write fulltime.
To date she is the author of thirteen adult novels and two children’s books, and her works have been translated into several languages, with a Russian deal in the offing. Selected works have also been published in Australia and the US. Her latest novel, The Street Where You Live, will be published in early June 2017.
In her spare time she visits schools to talk about the joys of reading, and she tells stories to small children in her local library. She is a fan of cats, chocolate and kindness.
With a friend she manages the Random Acts of Kindness Limerick page on Facebook.
Website ~ www.roisinmeaney.com
Twitter ~ @roisinmeaney
Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/roisinmeaneywriter/