Welcome to my new blog, “What the Cat Dragged In.” It’s been a very long time—7 years to be exact—since my last blog entry. That feels like a lifetime ago. But with the launch of this new novel, the time seemed right. Plus, there’s so much I want you to know about this story and how I came to write it. So, why not join me and the cat crew? There’s a cozy place on the sofa, just for you. And we promise not to take up too much of your time.
This book took me a full three years to get it to its final incarnation, and honestly, if I had another week, I’d probably tweak it again. My editor, the wondrous Caitlyn Dlouhy, basically had to rip it out of my grubby little hands. “Kathi, seriously, we have to send it to the printer NOW!” Alas!
Some history: The first draft came fast. I got it all down in about six weeks, which is something of a record for me. I’m normally a fairly slow writer. You could say that it was the proverbial shitty first draft. There was nothing lovely or magical or enchanting about it whatsoever. What it had going for it was “possibility.” And you’re probably thinking, really? Six weeks? Okay, true confessions: there were a couple of intertwined ideas that I had been mulling over for years, and in that initial burst of writing, those two ideas just kept eating at me.
The first came to me as a question—what does it look like to have the kind of faith that you would risk everything, including your life, and the life of others, for the cause of faith? Here in my part of the world, I’ve met people whose faith is so deep, their belief is so solid, that they are convinced that any harm that comes their way is part of a bigger plan, and also that Jesus or God or Allah or however you want to describe a Higher Power, will take care of you. I call these folks “sweet believers,” because that’s how I see them: sweet in their beliefs. And I mean it in a very complimentary way.
I will be the first to say that I’m not a religious person. However, I do believe that one can be a person of faith, without being tied to any particular religion. But that wasn’t what I was pondering here. Instead, I wanted to write about a girl who lived her life based upon her sweet belief in all-things-good. Moreover, what if it was her experience of her church that guided her?
The second idea came from a moment I had several years earlier. One cold, rainy day, I accompanied my 90-year old grandmother to the graveside service of her younger brother. It was a tiny gathering at the old Washington Cemetery in Houston, TX. I come from a very long line—seven generations in fact—of Houstonians, the earliest of whom arrived back when Texas a republic.
The service ended, hugs were delivered, and we got back in the car to head to her house. But as we drove through the cemetery, I noticed that something was “off.” It was so unsettling that I felt compelled to make another loop through the graveyard. What I noticed was that, without any exceptions, every angel had been decapitated. All their heads were missing.
I was haunted by it, so much in fact that I asked my husband, Ken, to drive to Houston with me to take a photo.
I even wrote a poem about it.
Now, the Washington Cemetery is old. It’s been there for a very long time. It’s likely that some of those heads were lost to lightning, or a tree fall, or a high wind. But it’s more likely that someone, maybe someone like the boy in my poem, stole them. And that led me to investigate the very lucrative black market in stolen cemetery statuary. Yes, it really is a thing.
All of this led me to ask this question: what would it be like for a boy who has a dark secret to fall for a girl who is fundamentally good? How could that possibly play out? Would there ultimately be any hope for a relationship like that? What would it look like?
From those initial questions, I created Soleil Broussard (Sweet Believer) and Cade Curtis (Angel Thief).
They form the contemporary time-line of the novel. There is another time-line that is set in pre-Civil War Houston. I want to tell you about that too, but right now, I have to feed the cats. Stay tuned.
And thanks for dropping by.