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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Meet Zombie

Several years ago my youngest son and his then girlfriend went out for a walk. Less than thirty minutes later, his girlfriend came back and announced, "Your son just rescued a sick cat." Little did I know that this "sick" cat would become the inspiration for my newest release, DIAL V FOR VAMPIRE, and the world of Kudzu Korners.

So, how did I go from meeting our newest rescue cat to world-building for a paranormal romance series? Join me, if you dare, for a journey through the workings of my writer brain.

We are a multiple cat household so, any new cats that show up are kept isolated from the others until we can have them tested to make sure that they aren't carrying any diseases such as feline leukemia or FIV (feline AIDS). We put the new guy in my husband's man cave until we we could get him to the vet. While we waited, we tossed around ideas for names but nothing quite fit. Then, while we were waiting in the exam room at the vet's office, I couldn't help but chuckle when I looked at the old man. He was deaf, missing most of his teeth, had a crumpled ear (probably from chronic ear infections) and, to make matters worse, when my husband and son had trimmed the mats out of the poor guy's long fur, they nicked his skin in a couple of places. The shorter fur also revealed a few cysts on his flanks. I shook my head and told him, "Dude, you look like the walking dead." That's when it hit me. His name was Zombie! It was perfect.

The view that gave Zombie his name

I have had dozens of cats (both my own and fosters) over the years. Zombie was easily one of the most awesome cats I have ever known. He was very laid back, but didn't take any "lip" from the others. (He was given a clean bill of health so, he moved out of the man cave and joined the rest of our clowder.) The other cats were confused by why he didn't react to their growls and hisses. But, whenever they got a bit too uppity, Zombie would give them a good whack (or several) with his paw. He would never use his claws, but the force of his slap would echo through the room.

Who could resist that face?
I played around with the idea of creating a blog called Life with Zombie in which I would post about Zombie the cat as if he were the stereotypical brain-eating zombie. Then, one day, my husband made one of those casual, life-changing statements: "Why don't you let your characters write some of the things you talk about?" That was it! I think I heard angels singing. At that point, my heroine Maggie became the author of the Life with Zombie blog, which, in turn, lead to the creation of Kudzu Korners, a small Southern town inhabited by humans, vampires, werewolves, zombies, and occasionally the fae. However, my vampires, werewolves, and zombies are anything but stereotypical.

My handsome old man
Sadly, our Zombie was roughly fifteen years old when my son rescued him and he was already in the advanced stages of kidney failure. We only had him in our lives for four months before his condition deteriorated to the point where we had to release him to run free at the Rainbow Bridge. Letting go of a much loved pet is never easy, even when you haven't known them long. However, in this case, Zombie lives on as a character in DIAL V FOR VAMPIRE. As a matter of fact, the story is dedicated to him:

To Zombie, the coolest rescue cat ever. I miss you, bud. You will live on in my heart, and Kudzu Korners, forever.

Would you like to meet Zombie for yourself? Are you interested in learning more about DIAL V FOR VAMPIRE and the world of Kudzu Korners? If so, you can find the blurb, an excerpt, and the buy link HERE.

Until next month, happy reading!

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