When asking writers about their working spaces, it amazes me how often an animal features. I suppose it’s inevitable that as we work from home and alone, we are able to have a dog, cat or even parrot friend to keep us company. This is the first in an occasional series of posts about writers and their non-human assistants and I’m delighted to have Zara Stoneley, fellow Harper Impulse writer, to kick it off. Having heard about Saffron the cat though, I’m not entirely sure our animal companions are always an asset!
Me and My Beastie Bestie – Zara Stoneley
I hope people won’t be too disappointed to discover that I don’t write surrounded by the dogs and horses which feature in all my books (though I have to admit, I am!). I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by dogs of various shapes and sizes, and this is the first time since I was five years old that I haven’t had a canine companion to share the sofa with.
Darcey, a Jack Russell Terrier (small in stature but massive in personality), was the last dog to share my life. Wherever I went, Darcey would be there. She’d sit beside me as I wrote, would be at my heels (or thereabouts!) when I was with the horses. She kept guard when I was in the garden, bounced about in the car whenever she had the opportunity, and loved nothing more than a game of football with my son. She was loyal, devoted and such a character. Sadly we lost her to leukemia a few years ago. She was only young, and left a big gap in our lives.
That’s so sad, Zara. JRTs are such huge characters.
Soon after, life changed and with all the upheaval it wouldn’t have been fair to introduce a new pup to the pack, and now, with my current lifestyle, the time still isn’t right for another dog. But one day…
So, these days my only furry companion is Saffron, a ginger and white cat who came to me via the RSPCA. Her favourite place to spread-eagle herself is my laptop keyboard (naturally), failing that she tries to squeeze between the keyboard and my stomach – and as we both seem to be (how do I put it?), ‘spreading’ as we get older that’s a bit of a no-no too.
But on a good day I can persuade her that her blanket might do for an hour or two, on a bad day we try to out-stare one another. Or I threaten her with banishment to the kitchen, for which I get ‘the look’.
Saffie has been responsible for editing huge chunks of a manuscript without my knowledge, sending (unintelligible) messages on Facebook, and has even managed to shut my laptop down. She considers it her duty to stop me getting complacent.
She’s ruled by her stomach, and has an internal body clock that never falters when it comes to meal times. She’s perfected the knack of disrupting me mid-flow – if a miaow doesn’t work then it soon escalates to tapping my legs (gently, then more persuasively with claws), and then biting if necessary when she decides she’s been waiting for her lunch long enough and is about to expire on the spot if I don’t get up and do something about it! I honestly think she must have watched Garfield and decided to treat him as a role model, but instead of lasagna she likes Stilton and chicken (but not together, obviously).
But I can’t imagine life without some kind of furry beastie at my side. Saffie listens without snoring when I explain why my plot isn’t working, looks on in disbelief when I talk about the dreaded ‘edits’ (yes, Saff understands that I love my words and don’t want to delete them), she reminds me to eat, and to get off my backside when I’ve been stuck in one position for too long because I’m in ‘the zone’. You can say ‘in a minute’ to a human, you can even say ‘it’s in the fridge’ or ‘do it yourself I’m busy’, but have you ever tried saying that to a cat?
Despite all her ‘assistance’ I’ve still managed to finish a book recently, I haven’t told her that in this one there are dogs and horses, and not a single cat…
And here’s a little info about it. I LOVE the cover! Available for pre-order now, it’s released on the 26th May. One that’s definitely on my TBR list:
‘A great treat for readers…jam-packed with sexy men and horses.’ Bestselling author Fiona Walker
Dashing eventer Rory is ready to button up his breeches and settle down. His gorgeous wife, Lottie, wants a bank balance in the black so she can protect the beautiful family estate for future generations.
But with the wedding business at Tipping House going up in flames, and rumours that it was arson not accident, Lottie begins to wonder who she can trust with her future.
Tranquil Tippermere is under siege as movies moguls and insurance investigators invade the countryside, and as events gather pace rescue plans start to look too good to be true, and intentions may not be as honourable as they seem.
As a moody, but definitely marvellous, polo player enters the fray and squares up to the eventing hero of Tippermere, does Lottie stand to lose her husband as well as her home?
And you can grab the other Tippermere books (all the books can be read independently) here –
Here’s some background about Zara
Zara was born in a small village in Staffordshire, educated in Cheshire, and went on to study at Liverpool University. After a successful career as an IT consultant, she decided to follow her heart and ran a dog grooming business for several years before becoming a full-time writer.
Her fun, romantic, romps draw on her experiences of village life, and her various love affairs with dogs, cats and horses. These days if she’s not at her laptop, you can usually find her trudging across fields on foot, or sat on the back of a horse.
Zara divides her time between a country cottage in Cheshire and an apartment in Barcelona. Her most recent novels include the popular Stable Mates, Country Affairs and Country Rivals.
Find out more –
Thanks so much for coming on and sharing Darcey and Saffron with us Zara. Good luck with the new book.