It all started with a press release. Michelle, the wonderful publicist at Severn House, had sent around a notice about new/upcoming books being available for critics and bloggers on NetGalley. In it, she wrote:
"There's a strong feeling at Severn House HQ that Christmas wouldn't quite be Christmas without a cat mystery. As Dark As My Fur is a darker-than-average read from our very own queen of cat mysteries, Clea Simon."
I, of course, thanked her and asked if she knew the tale of the queen of the cats, which I remembered from a book of spooky stories from my childhood. She did not, and so after a brief, unsatisfactory Google search (I found one version, which I didn't like), I reproduced it - and I share my response to her here:
"In brief, an old woman is on her way home one evening when the strangest thing happens. A raven alights on a fence right alongside her and says, “Tell Aunt Kix that Old Polly is dead.”
“Strange bird,” she thinks, and keeps walking. But then on the next block, another strange thing happens. A black cat crossing the street stops right in front of her and staring up at her says, “Tell Aunt Kix that Old Polly is dead.” But the cat runs off before she can question it, and so she keeps walking.
Then, one block from her home, she sees three tabbies sitting on the curb, staring at her. She’s prepared by now and as she passes them, she says, “ I know, I know, I’m to tell Aunt Kix that Old Polly is dead.”
The three cats just sit there and stare at her, and she feels a bit silly. But by then she’s almost home.
IT’s all been so odd, she tries to put it from her mind, but that night she finds she can’t sleep. She’s tossing and turning, until finally her husband says to her, “What’s wrong?”
And she replies, “It’s the strangest thing. Three times on my walk home this evening, I had the oddest experience. Three times, I thought various animals said to me, ‘Tell Aunt Kix that Old Polly is dead.’”
And before her husband can respond, the aging tabby asleep at their feet jumps up as if shocked and exclaims: “Old Polly is dead? Then I am the queen of the cats!” And with that, she flies out the window and is never seen again.
Anyway, that’s more or less it - and I am quite proud to be queen of the cats!"
(By the way Dark As My Fur is available NOW from the UK-based site, Book Depository, which ships for free. But you can also pre-order As Dark As My Fur on Amazon!)