Please welcome Anjali Banerjee to Over Coffee.
She has also brought her Muses: Luna, Simon, Teddy, Cheyenne and Ruby. Aren't they gorgeous. All writers need cats, lol!
I’m stuck in a dark house during a storm-induced power outage – surrounded by cats. As I lie under the covers, trying to stay warm, typing this blog entry on a lightweight netbook computer with an emergency flashlight propped on the keyboard, my eighteen-pound tabby cat, Luna, is climbing onto my chest. She keeps licking my hand and trying to burrow under my armpit. Our smaller ragdoll cat, Cheyenne, just jumped onto the windowsill, scrambled for a foothold, and fell to the floor. Our sleek black kitten, Ruby, sleeps in a basket on the bureau. Oops, not any more. She leaped down onto the bed, then to the floor and sauntered off. Simon, a rather large, orange and white male tabby, has left through a secure tunnel into a safe outdoor enclosure, where he makes believe that he’s defending a vast territory.
I choose to scoop. Be right back.
Yes, I live and work in a circus of cats – five, to be exact. They graciously allow my husband and me to live in this small rambler in the woods on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. We’re charged with feeding the fur people, loving them, brushing them, clipping their claws, providing them with fresh running water and clean litterboxes, and generally catering to their every whim. Occasionally, they allow me to work and write so that I might make a living and continue to, um, feed them.
It’s not easy.
This morning, while I raced to complete a project on deadline, Luna threw up a hairball on the bedcovers. Decision time again. Clean hairball or keep on working? I chose to clean up the hairball.
So I moved my laptop to another room, thinking I might get a little peace, but no… as the computer was booting up, I walked away for a few moments. Mistake. When I returned, Ruby was sitting in front of the keyboard, her innocent gaze focused on a blue screen. In only a few seconds, she had managed to crash my computer. I somehow got it working again after three reboots.
If cats are so difficult, why do I live with them?
|Ruby and Anjali|
Luna has settled down next to my leg. She’s a warm, purring ball of fluff - loyal, sweet, loving fluff with affectionate green eyes. She never cares what I look like or what mood I’m in. She just wants to be close and to be loved. And Ruby, my little intelligent gem of a black cat, curls up next to me and gazes into my eyes with the wise soul of an ancient goddess. The cats make me laugh with their antics, and they give unconditional love while asking little in return, relatively speaking. Cats know how to meditate, to eat when they’re hungry, sleep when they’re tired, and play when they feel playful – they experience the world in a pure, joyful way.
They are also my muses. They find ways to sneak into my books. In my children’s novel, Seaglass Summer, a young girl learns that her idealistic dream to become a veterinarian can bring sadness – when an old kitty passes away – as well as satisfaction. In my novel for adults, Invisible Lives, my heroine tests the quality of a man by his reaction to her cats.
In my new release, Haunting Jasmine, Jasmine Mistry, an overworked L.A. businesswoman, agrees to run her aunt’s bookstore on a rainy Pacific Northwest island while her aunt is away in India. Little does Jasmine know that the bookstore, in a cluttered Victorian mansion, is haunted by the ghosts of dead authors, who help her to slow down, reinvent her life, fall in love with a mysterious stranger… and adopt two shelter cats, of course.
In my current novel in progress, a cat graduates from cameo role to central character, helping a young widow emerge from her isolation and find love -- on the same Pacific Northwest island.
After all, what would a story be without cats?
But how does one balance the good and the difficult – the at once loving, muse-like qualities and disruptive tendencies of cats? My husband helps, when he’s home. We provide outdoor enclosures - play areas for the cats - and toys, cat beds and condos. When we adopted Ruby as a kitten, we also adopted a male kitten, Teddy, of roughly the same age. The two kittens bonded, sleeping together and playing together. I write while the cats are resting, or I close my office door.
Sometimes, though, I simply have to leave the house. I write in a friend’s office, or I go to a café. It’s always a balancing act - a little of this, a little of that. But isn’t that what life is all about?
As I close this blog entry, my husband and two cats are asleep here on the bed, allowing me to write. The wind is howling, and the power is still out. The battery is about to run down on this netbook computer, so I’d better shut down for now.
Divorcée Jasmine Mistry is intent on restarting her life when she gets the chance to do just that. A call from the past brings her home to Shelter Island, a green dot in the middle of Puget Sound, to run her beloved aunt's bookstore. The familiarity is heartening – the rocky beaches, pewter skies, country boutiques, and above all, Auntie’s Bookstore, nestled in a quaint Queen Anne Victorian, and believed, not incidentally, to be haunted.
With that knowledge, Jasmine embarks on a mystical journey, urged along by her quirky family, guided by the highly emotional spirits of long-dead authors, and moved to heal her broken heart when she falls unexpectedly in love with an enigmatic young stranger. He knows about blurring the lines between truth and fantasy. In redefining the meaning of everlasting love, he urges Jasmine to reinvent herself in a place she calls home. All she has to do is close her eyes and say yes. Excerpt
You can find Anjali: Facbeook and Website
Photo Credits: Carol Ann Morris -Author bio picture, Anjali and Ruby, and Teddy. Reprinted with permission.