Today I am so pleased to welcome Jackie Keswick to Joyfully Jay. Jackie has come to talk to us about her latest release, Mouse Hunt. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

 

Hi all, I’m Jackie Keswick, and I’m very grateful to Jay for having me on the blog today to talk about… cats!

In writing classes, writers are often told to write what they know. Since I like to write about hacker vigilantes and assassins, warriors, death gods and other “people” I’ve never been or met, I tend to struggle with that advice. What I’ve noticed over the years, though, is that many of my personal likes and dislikes find their way into my stories.

A number of my characters love to cook. Others love music or history, fight bullies, or get a kick out of looking after people. I set stories in my favourite places, and this year I’ve released not one but two stories where the character that plays an important role is…a cat.

And while I’m a proud cat parent, my two “cat stories” couldn’t be more different.

A Box of Wishes, is a small-town romance set in a coffeehouse. I can’t remember what came first, the idea for a coffee shop with a barista who offers help when people most need it, or the idea for a lonely detective coming home to a cat.

Ben and his cat really tugged on my heartstrings as I wrote, especially as I ended up “modelling” Morris the cat on our Tiger, giving him quite a few of Tiger’s mannerisms, including high-fives when asking for food, and stealing my office chair.

Morris is a company cat who loves being around people, which can’t be said about the cat in my second “cat book.”

Mouse Hunt, a mystery novella set in my Power of Zero ‘verse, introduces a cat who has aloofness down to an art form. So much so, that Jack – called to his former mentor’s house to help solve his murder – isn’t aware the man even had a cat and struggles to make sense of strange sounds at night, and even stranger presents left on his doorstep.

It was a dinner-sized fish, pale with dark splotches, and judging by the pouty mouth and the whiskers it was sprouting Jack thought it was maybe a carp or something similar. Like the rabbit, the fish was intact except for a few puncture marks that made him think of someone fishing with a barbecue fork.

Jack’s so rattled by the almost otherworldly occurrences, he even mentions it to a friend:

“What’s the technical term for someone breaking into a place and leaving things?”

“What?”

“Yeah. Food. Or at least I hope it’s meant as food. It made sense on the first day when Jon’s neighbour brought cake. I thought she was nosy, and it was an excellent cake. But now? Stuff turns up on the doorstep. There was a rabbit. And then a carp.”

“Why don’t you wait for them to drop off some vegetables and then ask Gareth to cook you dinner? Flynn said he’s driving up to see you tomorrow. You know that, right?”

“I know that.” Jack was looking forward to it. Actually, no. Scratch that. A visit was fine, and he was looking forward to it, but he really wanted to be back home. A long evening in the hot tub with some new music, a glass of red, and Gareth lounging in the water opposite him… now there was motivation to finish going through Jon’s notes as fast as he could.

But, of course, solving the mystery of Jon’s death isn’t the end of the matter. Finding Jon’s cat starts a new chain of events that I’ve been exploring in the next Power of Zero story – which will be out in the new year – and in this year’s Rainbow Advent Calendar tale, which you can read on my website.

As you may have noticed, my two “very different” cat stories are telling a very similar tale: That cats are wonderful companions with a special gift to combat loneliness. Whether you’re a retired spy living alone, a young detective recovering from a bad breakup, or even a hacker vigilante who buries himself so deeply in his crusade that he forgets to eat and sleep…having a cat around for company can make all the difference!

Mouse Hunt is available from my store and you can read the companion story A Very Bagpuss Christmas on my website.


Blurb

Dealing with death is never easy. Not when it comes unexpectedly and claims a friend.

A phone call in the early hours. A snowy trek up the M1. And Jack finds himself in Holton Wick, far from Gareth and the boys, alone with his memories and the shock and grief of losing a man he regarded as a friend and mentor.

The quiet village might look like an ideal place of retirement for a former spy, but like all villages, it has hidden currents. Far from simply ensuring that Jon’s papers and records are safe, Jack is drawn into solving Jon’s murder.

Accepting loss is hard. But accepting the true reason for Jon’s death may be the hardest task of all.


Bio

Jackie Keswick writes a mix of suspense, action adventure, fantasy and history, loves stories with layers, plots with twists and characters with hidden depths. She adores friends to lovers stories, and tales of unexpected reunions, second chances, and men who write their own rules. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.

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