Thursday, January 07, 2010

What is Elizabeth Ann Scarborough reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, winner of the Nebula Award for her novel The Healer's War, and the author of numerous fantasy novels. Her latest novel with co-author Anne McCaffrey is Catalyst.

Her entry begins:
Since my new book is about cats, can I tell you about some of my favorite cat books, fictional and non? I've revisited several of them while working on Catalyst. Some I've read fairly recently (like Dewey) and some are favorites from my childhood. My first favorite cat books were by Paul Gallico (Thomasina, made into a pretty good Disney movie, and The Abandoned (in the US.; in England it was called Jennie). While distracting the kittens from a tragedy in Catalyst, Chessie teaches them to the all-important cat skill of washing, drawing on lessons learned from "one of the classics of feline literature" (referring to Jennie, whose motto was "when in doubt, wash.") Having been imprinted by these books at any early age, I am of the opinion that abandoning a cat, or any other pet, is a hanging offense. I also loved the H. Allen Smith Rhubarb series about the gnarly old tomcat who owned a baseball team. Then there was the book upon which the Disney movie...[read on]
About Catalyst, from the publisher:
Pilot, navigator, engineer, doctor, scientist—ship's cat? All are essential to the well-staffed space vessel. Since the early days of interstellar travel, when Tuxedo Thomas, a Maine coon cat, showed what a cat could do for a ship and its crew, the so-called Barque Cats have become highly prized crew members. Thomas's carefully bred progeny, ably assisted by humans—Cat Persons—with whom they share a deep and loving bond, now travel the galaxy, responsible for keeping spacecraft free of vermin, for alerting human crews to potential environmental hazards, and for acting as morale officers.

Even among Barque Cats, Chessie is something special. Her pedigree, skills, and intelligence, as well as the close rapport she has with her human, Janina, make her the most valuable crew member aboard the Molly Daise. And the litter of kittens in her belly only adds to her value.

Then the unthinkable happens. Chessie is kidnapped—er, catnapped—from Dr. Jared Vlast's vet clinic at Hood Station by a grizzled spacer named Carl Poindexter. But Chessie's newborn kittens turn out to be even more extraordinary than their mother. For while Chessie's connection to Janina is close and intuitive, the bond that the kitten Chester forms with Carl's son, Jubal, is downright telepathic. And when Chester is sent into space to learn his trade, neither he nor Jubal will rest until they're reunited.

But the announcement of a widespread epidemic affecting livestock on numerous planets throws their future into doubt. Suddenly the galactic government announces a plan to impound and possibly destroy all exposed animals. Not even the Barque Cats will be spared.

With the clock racing against them, Janina, Jubal, Dr. Vlast, and a handful of very special kittens will join forces with the mysterious Pshaw-Ra—an alien-looking cat with a hidden agenda—to save the Barque Cats, other animals, and quite possibly the universe as they know it from total destruction.
Visit Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's website.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.

--Marshal Zeringue