It’s been 10 years almost to the day since I wrote the book’s first words, and those words have never changed:
My name is Mari, a name given me by the man they call Yeshua ben Yosef. I was little more than a kitten when he strode through a pack of wild dogs to lift me from the crevice where I crouched. The dogs slunk from his coming like jackals, and I ceased my growling. In our different ways, we sensed his power.
I knew as I wrote that I was speaking with the voice of the small black cat who had died as a result of the wildfire that roared through our canyon. But it was 3 years later before I picked up the story and continued beyond those first few chapters. Wildfire takes its toll on everyone, including those of us who survive.
The early pages lay in my heart like the cone of a Lodgepole pine, waiting for a healing fire of the spirit to open its tightly closed scales and release the seeds. When the fire came, there was no quenching it, and the seeds soared into a leafy canopy in my soul.
The cat whose memory speaks through the book came to me as a small black kitten with pumpkin orange eyes, wandering out of the pines behind my house. She was frenzied with hunger, fearful of everything, and bursting with life. She lived for only two years, but she looked on each day with wonder.
Creating a beloved character in a book can be a strange experience. Certainly enough stories and films have been created around that phenomenon—the sense a writer has that her characters possess more vitality than the flesh and blood people around us. But nothing can prepare you for their steadily growing presence in your mind, like someone just met and yet known forever. Fortunately for me, my villains haven’t ever moved in.
Although I write every day now–new books to add to the Yeshua’s Cat series and quirky mysteries with a spiritual bent–Yeshua’s Cat is my life’s work. It’s the clearest expression I ever hope to create of what I believe is True. Both the cat and the man live inside me now, as memory and as gift.
(For more details on how Mari came to be, see the November 3, 2013, blog entry, The Emergence of Yeshua’s Cat)