Can a Cat be Inspirational? Oh yes, especially if his name is ROCCO….
By T. C. Lotempio
I have always been an animal lover, especially of cats. When my calico died a few years ago, I went to my local Animal Shelter and adopted a handsome tuxedo cat named ROCCO. It soon became apparent that he is the “boss” of my family, which includes three other cats! But never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever expect him to be the driving force behind our blog, www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com, or end up as the star of his own mystery series!
Well – to clarify – the series isn’t named after ROCCO. He was just the inspiration for one of the main characters, a feisty tuxedo cat named Nick. Nick’s a cool cat, one with a sharp mind who likes to play SCRABBLE, and spell out clues so his human, Nora, can solve mysteries! Here’ a brief synopsis of book one, Meow if it’s Murder, taken from the cover back:
Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…
Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too.
Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.
Granted, ROCCO wasn’t the only inspiration for the series – but he was and is a large part of it! And he reminds me, every day, in his own catly way…I mean, you would think HE wrote the book! Although….in many ways, I think he did. But let’s keep that OUR secret.
ROCCO isn’t my only source of inspiration, either. His brother Maxx was the prototype for Toby in the Cat Rescue mysteries! Maxx was a stray that my friend Barbara found in South Jersey; in the book Toby’s a stray too, and a very particular one. He’s been deliberately chasing away people who might adopt him, waiting for, as one of the volunteers put it, “his perfect human”. Well, Syd McCall seems to fill the bill!
A one-eyed Persian cat that was owned by a former neighbor of mine was the inspiration for the character of Purrday in the first Pet Shop mystery, The Time for Murder is Meow. And the popular Princess Fuzzypants is the inspiration for yet another character in an upcoming series!
So I suppose when people refer to me as the “Lady who writes those cat mysteries” they’re not far off the track!
What are some things your pets do that inspire you to do different things? ROCCO and I would love to know! Visit my website, www.tclotempio.net and drop us a line!
You can keep up with Toni and ROCCO at www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com, where they interview authors and have giveaways every month!
You can also sign up for Toni’s newsletter on her website: www.tclotempio.net
You can purchase the Nick and Nora Mystery Series and the Cat Rescue Series here:
Rocco and Toni are giving away one copy of either the Nick and Nora or Cat Rescue Series.
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While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. Toni is also passionate about her love for animals, as demonstrated with her four cats: Trixie, Princess, Maxx and, of course, ROCCO, who not only provided the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat in the Nick and Nora mystery series, but who also writes his own blog and does charity work for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read! She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuted Dec. 2, 2014. She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.