I distinctly remember starting the story of How Pat Got Her Five Cats on a plane to Málaga in May 2016, scribbling furiously in my small notebook. I was on my way to Spain with a friend for a short holiday, before packing my bags and leaving my base in the UK to spend time with my father, who was going through chemotherapy over in Sweden.
That summer and autumn, pretty much all the writing I did was fun, light-hearted and frivolous – in stark contrast to what was going on in real life around me. I wrote fun stories to take myself away from the daily worries of helping an elderly man through his cancer treatment, and even though I might not have managed to write on a daily basis, I wrote as often as I could. My dad, I’m pleased to say, recovered well and I eventually returned to my writing base in the UK.
Pat’s Cats, as I call it for short, was one of the stories that started emerging in 2016, although back then I didn’t envisage it would be my first published work of fiction. In fact, I left the first draft lingering for quite some time, instead working on a young adult novel about two aging detectives (which I’m hoping will see the light of day later this year) and a number of short stories. After my mother passed away that same autumn, poems in Swedish and English, began to flow as well.
However, it wasn’t until the summer of 2018, at my favourite writer’s retreat, Monaick Mhor in the Scottish Highlands, that I took the time to revisit Pat and her cats and finalise the story, which is now about to be published in April.
Given my longstanding love of feline friends, those who know me will find it highly unsurprising that my very first book of fiction should feature five cats. If anything, they’ll think I’ve shown admirable restraint, when only including five. This fabulous five-some – Friendly, Frisky, Fluffy, Fickle and Fierce – has been beautifully brought to life by the very talented artist Dani Bergson, who worked on the illustrations and book cover.
The book itself is mostly aimed at a younger audience, but I feel it’s a chuckle-worthy story for any cat lover out there. The thing is, Pat never wanted a cat…
So, how did she get five? You can find out in April. More details coming soon.