Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pets and the Publishing Business—One Author’s Experience

Those of us who are pet lovers know that writing and pets go together like cookies and milk. Every writer who is also a pet lover has a collection of stories to tell about their pet. I cannot resist offering up one of my pet stories.

My Maine Coon Cat, Emmajean, passed away last October. Living on my own for the very first time I realized how critical Emmajean was to the world I was facing without my husband Garry who had succumbed to ALS a few months before. The house felt so empty, and I felt so lost.

I had featured my cat in several of my books, each time under a different name, but she was always very much a part of the story. Away from my publishing life, Emmajean was a living, breathing part of my day. I’d gotten her after a particularly difficult rejection letter fourteen years ago, and had decided to stop trying to get published and instead go back to something that would give me pleasure—having a cat around the house.

Emmajean came from a cattery in Quebec, a house filled with cats. We drove home with her hiding under my seat in the car. It wasn’t until we stopped for gas in New Brunswick that she climbed out of her hiding place and curled up next to my ear. As she began to knead my neck and purr it was all over for me. We were inseparable after that. A few months later I returned to writing and she took up her post next to me, or sat at my feet purring me on.

After she died I couldn’t face getting another pet. I couldn’t face going through the experience of loving a cat only to lose her in the end. Then slowly I began to think about what it would be like to have another cat, a cat with lots of enthusiasm and intelligence.

I was still mulling the idea over when my daughter and granddaughter came to visit. Suddenly my granddaughter had a new goal—find a kitten for Grammy. Caught up in her enthusiasm I filled out an adoption form at the SPCA. We were on our way home to await word that I was a suitable person to adopt a cat when we drove past Pet Smart, a pet store that helps the SPCA find homes for kittens.

Two male tabby cats later, I watch in disbelief as they leap on my computer keyboard and chew the pages of my latest manuscript. I now have a new purpose in life: keep my little feline friends from shredding everything they can get their claws into, while I wait for them to mature into wonderful companions. I’ve forgotten how long it takes for a kitten to grow into a cat, but I hope it’s not too long.

When I asked my friend, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Debra Holland about pets she had this to say.

“Pets are a source of unconditional love, which is something we don’t always receive from the humans who are close to us. They enrich our lives by their presence often becoming family members and are deeply loved. They also teach us about appreciation and loss because we know that their lives are so much shorter than ours, and we can deeply grieve their deaths.

Dogs and cats can provide excellent writing companions as they curl up nearby while you work on the computer, content to be in your company.

Putting a pet in your book can add another character to the story, one who can play an important role as well as show reflect the personalities of the humans around them. If your dog doesn’t like your boyfriend, but she likes most men, maybe that means he’s not the right one for you.”

I agree with Debra. If you want to add to your happiness and your sense of fulfilment get a pet. You won’t regret it.

Stella MacLean has been writing with the help of her dog Woody and her cat Emmajean for twenty years.

Her next Superromance, TO PROTECT HER SON, will be out in February 2015.
Her first romantic suspense novel, UNIMAGINABLE, will be released in late October 2014.

She’d love to hear about your pet experiences. Visit her at


  1. Amen to that, Stella. Pets brighten our lives with their eternal optimism and joie de vivre.