What inspired me to write the Ratha series
The wonder, majesty, and terror of Earth's life, as embodied in cats, both large and small. The flashing beauty of the cheetah in the chase, the arch of the mountain lion's spring, and the quivering of flesh as two huge male lions rebound from each other in a fight. The fossils that speak of cats and cat-like creatures millions of years dead, yet alive and stalking in human minds. The small cats in my life who bring the jungle into the living room, who stalk and pounce on my emotions and deliver an alien but deep love.
The human minds who have created and recreated cats in words and between pages, fiction and non-fiction. Joy Adamson's Elsa and Pippa recline beside Bagheera, Kipling's great black panther. I wanted so badly to be Mowgli, who was privileged to rest against that velvet side and hear the deep rumbling voice, so fierce and so wise.
Even more, I wanted to be Bagheera, to escape the Bandar-log taint of the human world. To swipe it away with the stroke of a paw, to yawn at it with curled tongue and white shining teeth, and then pad away like a mystery, leaving awe behind.
That was a child's dream, with a child's anger. That child grew up to become part of the human world and the anger became an energy directed at changing the bad things about it, such as war, starvation, hate, greed, cruelty, despoiling and destruction. Perhaps some of that energy did actually cause some small changes.
I can't say exactly what created Ratha and her world. I walk inside her skin, look out through her eyes, feel the muscles that retract and extend her claws. I live her struggles with the tyrant Shongshar and she lives with mine against an unfair and unjust Iraq war and those who grow fat on it. She tries to befriend Thistle-chaser and I try to do the same with an uncertain and equally prickly young stepchild. I stroke my kitty Athena and she nuzzles Ratharee, her treeling.
And if readers can experience Ratha as I have, it is a great joy.
Stay on this trail -- there will be more.