Sep 30, 2011

Meet Winston - the star of Return of the Secret Heir

While I was writing Return of the Secret Heir, I realised that my heroine, Pia, would have a cat. It just seemed obvious once I thought about it. She lives alone and is very buttoned-up at work, but she would have someone to let out her softer side with.

And I knew *just* the cat.

Winston owned me for about 12 years. He was a rough and tumble cat (see the misshapen ear in the above photo - a result of cat fights), but he generously tolerated my frequent cuddles and affection. If visitors tried the same, he'd let them know with a sharp claw that their attention was unwelcome.

He also owned two dogs (you can see the three of them in the bottom photo trying to catch a breeze through the door on a hot summer night).

Pia's Winston is also affectionate with his human, and reserves judgement on other humans. When JT Hartley first sees him, it's not quite love at first sight:

The curtains twitched and he looked up to find a large white cat with black patches gazing at him with feline disdain. Seemed he was striking out with all the residents of the apartment tonight.

I loved spending time with Winston again, even if he was only in a few scenes. He had such a huge personality and I still miss him.

Tell me, if you had the chance to add an animal into a book (your book or someone else's), who would it be? One of your own pets, or an animal you've met somewhere else?

Also, if you check back on Sunday, there will be a smooch from JT & Pia's book and I'll be giving away a copy!


  1. Oh, I LOVED Winston in Return of the Rebel Heir. I imagined he was just like my Gran's cat called Winston - a little rotund with a twinkle in his eye. My Gran's Winston was supposed to be pure white but liked to go mousing in the coal house, so was usually grey.

    Your description of JT's first meeting with Winston is perfect. Just how I would imagine a feline who was protective of his humanservant.

  2. Barb, it seems Winston isn't a unique choice of a name for a cat! Love the sound of your Gran's white / grey Winston. Maybe all Winstons have a large personality?

  3. I love the sound of your Winston, Rach. (Snap! I have a cat in my current wip)

    I think animals in books can add an element of fun. And can also reveal a hero and heroine's characters. We can always tell a villain from the way they treat animals.

    Hmm...I wouldn't have minded seeing Mr Darcy with a cat. :-)

  4. Michelle, how cool that you have a cat in your wip!

    Mr Darcy with a cat? I can imagine they both would have regarded each other with aloof indifference, then come to an understanding and been good friends.

  5. Rachel ~ I love the photos of your pets. Winston is a wonderful name for a cat. I love that he had enough cattitude to rule over the dogs. I know what you mean about missing them once they are gone but you just gave Winston a bit of immortality by putting into your book.
    I love having pets in romances. People get to show their inner side around pets. Pets often sense when people don't like them as well. I love the saying love me love my pet(whatever the pet is).

  6. Kaelee - you're right, Winston had cattitude!

    Oh, yes, "love me, love my dog/cat" is a fabulous saying. Do you know the Cat Stevens song, "I love my dog, as much as I love you. But you may fade, my dog will always come through." Priceless. =)

  7. Rachel, How gorgeous is Winston. No wonder you had to have him feature in your story. He has attitude.

    I love that Cat Stevens line. Didn't know it before you said it. My husband is always distressed that my dogs come before him - but they were in my life before him, only fair. Now I'll have a new argument for him :)

    I like animals in stories - any sort of animal. People show their true selves around critters.

    Lovely post!

  8. Cath, it's a great song - I first heard it in my teens. Here's a link to him playing it live:

    But maybe don't let your husband find you listening to it... ;)

  9. I took those two lines of lyrics from a lyrics website (in fact, they were the same on a few different sites) but the 'but' didn't feel right. So I just checked on Cat Stevens's own site (now Yusuf Islam, of course) and it has:

    I love my dog as much as I love you
    Though you may fade, my dog will always come through.

    All he asks from me is the food to give him strength
    All he ever needs is love and that he knows he’ll get, so

    I didn't know his site had all his lyrics - I could get lost there for hours!!

  10. I can see Igor, our Great Dane, starring in a book. All slobber - eww - but very sweet.

  11. Marybelle, Igor is a *stunning* name for a Great Dane! And slobber can be endearing on the right dog. =)

  12. What a handsome cat Winston was, Rachel -- and clearly he had lots of personality! Can't wait to meet him in Return of the Secret Heir!

    I love animals in books. It's one of the reasons I like Jenny Crusie's books so much -- she always has such great animals in them!

  13. Rach he was lovely!

    I've had so many wonderful animals in my life I wouldn't know which one to add - though I have added in a neighbour's dog (Tilly) in one of my current WIP's.

  14. Rach! Just when I thought I was familiar with all the critters of the Bailey household past and present....

    You call a cat Winston and he *has* to have a big personality.

    I put my dog in my just subbed book. A big, handsome, lumbering K9-unit drop-out with trauma in his past. First my hero gives him sanctuary and then he gives sanctuary to my heroine :) *sigh*

    Love a man who can love a dog. Or a cat.

  15. Emily, he was very handsome boy! I may be a little biased, but I often thought he was the best looking cat in the world. =)

    Jenny Crusie does animals so well. I love her dogs, but since this is a post about Winston, I have to mention Elvis from Bet Me. Gorgeous.

  16. Mel, I felt the same about having so many and not knowing which ones to add. But I've just had a few, depending on the story. Oliver (and my mother's dog Misty) were in The Blackmailed Bride's Secret Child, and I used a couple more in unpublished stories.

    And we can't forget that 4 of my dogs appeared in Nikki Logan's novella, Seven Day Love Story!

    Very cool about your neighbour's dog in a future book. I look forward to it!

  17. Nikki, there are a couple of other past Bailey critters yet to appear in public. Maybe I'll do another post soonish...

    That just-subbed book with Gus as a K9 drop out sounds fabulous! *Just* my sort of story. I will want advance notice so I don't miss that one at the shops.

  18. Wow, Winston is awesome, Rachel! Gutsy, too, getting up so close and personal with the dog and the chewy thing!

    We had a cat called Goon... the name suited him to a tee! He was a huge Persian with a lot of attitude and he "ran" our street in the Air Force married quarters. You know, I think maybe he should make and appearance on the pages soon...

  19. Sharon, I'd love to meet Goon in a story! Perhaps a military medical story...?

    Oh, yes, Winston knew no fear, even around eating dogs. I have another photo I almost used of him eating out of Darcy's dinner dish and Darcy looking at me, obviously saying, Am I supposed to eat around him?