Cats Take Over A New Series — Welcome Back Linda Reilly

I want to start with a huge thank you to Sherry Harris for inviting me to guest blog today with the wonderful Wickeds! I’m pleased to give away an e-Book of ESCAPE CLAWS to one person who leaves a comment.

When I first hatched the idea for a series that featured lots of cats, I had no idea how challenging it would be to weave a large cast of cats—eleven, for starters—into a full-length mystery.

I started by imagining a crotchety, aging woman living on a thinly-inhabited island somewhere off the New England coast, her house overflowing with rescued felines. The problem with said thinly-inhabited island…not enough people to populate a story. Even more daunting—not enough people to adopt cats, a necessary element of the series. Plus, the woman’s niece (the intended protagonist), had to seek her out, help her care for the cats, and (possibly?) make a life for herself there.

So, what if I made the island larger, more populated? But wait . . . wouldn’t that mean adding a ferry to shuttle people to and from the mainland? I wasn’t sure, but the mere mention of anything larger than my grandfather’s old rowboat made me run, screaming, for the Dramamine.

Nope. The island setting wasn’t working for me. I needed a cozy town, one where I could imagine a charming home on a bluff overlooking a picturesque town center. I looked to my own state of New Hampshire, where quaint villages abound. I selected one based on its location only and created my town from scratch. I named it Whisker Jog and chose an old Folk Victorian house as the primary setting.

The crotchety woman morphed into a kind, intelligent, fifty-something school teacher sidelined by arthritic knees—a woman who hadn’t seen her estranged niece, Lara, for sixteen years. Lara is a watercolor artist who’s been living in a studio apartment above a Boston bakery. She makes ends meet by working part time in the bakery.

And then came the cats. I love cats, but the task of naming and describing nearly a dozen of the furry felines suddenly overwhelmed me. Not only did each cat need his or her own personality, but each one had to be laced into the story . . . and still allow Lara time to solve a murder.

Last there was the mystery cat—the beautiful Ragdoll with the startling blue eyes who had an eerie knack of slipping in and out of the story without warning. Here is one of Lara’s early encounters with her:

Sparkling blue eyes, alight with curiosity, regarded Lara from the arm of the tufted sofa. Blue sat very straight, her dark tail curled around her fluffy form. Her coloring was stunning—like a cream-colored cookie whose edges had been dipped in a dark, exotic chocolate.

No sound came from the cat. She seemed content to have Lara watch her, not skittish in the least.

Lara held her breath and remained very still. In the past, Blue had been a mystery cat—there one moment, gone the next. This time, Lara was determined not to let her out of her sight.

It was my fabulous editor at Kensington who suggested that I write a Feline Cast of Characters. I’d already been working with a loose, messy version, so it was a natural leap to writing one that readers could enjoy, too. Best of all, it helped me highlight the key features of each kitty’s personality.

Readers: What kinds of settings do you most enjoy when reading a cozy mystery? Do you favor a particular locale? Seaside? Eatery? Bookstore?


Armed with a degree in Criminal Justice, Linda Reilly once contemplated a career in law enforcement. But life took a twist, and instead she found her niche in real estate closings and title examinations, where the dusty tomes in the Registry of Deeds enticed her into solving mysteries of a different sort. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, Linda lives in southern New Hampshire, where she loves solving mysteries of the cozy type. When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, she can usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or library hunting for a new adventure.

Social Media Links:

Web site:




58 Thoughts

  1. What a great glimpse into your world building! I love to read how authors set their novels and what works for them and what doesn’t. New Hampshire and a Victorian sound like the perfect setting for mysteries of any type, add cats (I have five of my own) and you know you’ve got me as a fan.

    Looking forward to meeting Blue in the fur.

    1. Thank you, Kait! I know that you’ve done a lot of world building of your own, so you understand the challenge. Hugs to your cats ~

  2. I like to have the descriptions woven into the story, not paragraphs and paragraphs of description that don’t actually move the story along. Three paragraphs, max., then a reason WHY that is necessary to know. (I HATED the fifteen pages of purple sheets in Madame Bovary.)

    1. I feel the same, Barbara. Pages and pages of description all at once can make your eyes glaze over. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Linda, congrats on the new series! It is a lot of cats, interesting how you mulled it all over! I do like small town settings for cozies and it is always fun to see where the locals hang out.

    1. The sheer number of cats did seem overwhelming for a while, but somehow it all worked out and the book came together. Thanks for visiting ~

  4. I am looking forward to starting your new series! Even though I live in Texas, I love cozies set in small-town New England. Probably because a trip to New England is at the top of my bucket list.

    1. Thank you, Christi. I hope you’ll make that trip to New England one of these days, because I know you’ll love it!

      1. You are so very welcome, I’m so glad I found you all on the guppies site. One of my main goals this year is to start and maintain a blog, I’ve started a trillion of them but I get so frustrated I bail. I look forward to reading this new post from ya’ll today!

  5. Congratulations on your latest release. It was interesting reading about the things you had to take into consideration before coming up with your final setting and characters.

    1. Thanks so much, Grace. It took longer than I wanted to pull it all together, but somehow it worked out. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. It was interesting reading about the things you had to take into consideration before coming up with your final setting and characters.

    1. L, you will find lots of cats in Escape Claws! Thank you for visiting today.

  7. I really enjoy reading books based in NE. I’ve lived in NH and MA most of my life and have seen a lot of NE. I love the seacoast areas the best. Add a cat or cats to the book and I’m in heaven. I joined a new group on GR with a challenge to see how many cat themed books we can read this year. Yours is on my TBR for sure.

    1. I’m grew up in the Berkshires, but then moved to NH in the early 1990s. I guess that’s why I love New England themed cozies. Thanks for stopping by today!

  8. Hi, very interesting insight into your writing process. Very cool. I really don’t have a geographic preference but do tend to prefer mysteries that feature a cat. My husband and I were staff to 6 cats, but 4 have crossed the rainbow bridge within the last 3 years. Tillie and Theo remain. Can’t wait to read your new series Linda!

    1. Kimberley, how wonderful that you and your husband were fortunate enough to serve all those cats. Sorry for your recent losses. Hugs to Tillie and Theo.

  9. This sounds great! Right now my preferences tend to go toward warmer locations. Arizona could be a fun location. I have two rescues that I’ve had since their mother brought them to me almost 22 years ago. Sabrina (mama) died 2 years ago at 20, but her babies are still going strong. Teddi and Tony are my treasures!

  10. Welcome, Linda! I love reading about how the idea you start with morphs over the course of writing the book.

    I have to admit writing a cast of 12 cats would defeat me.

    1. Liz, it really was a challenge to write that many cats into a mystery and still solve a murder. I’m grateful that it worked out. Phew!

  11. I love cozies and if a cat or dog is included then that makes it better..I’m such an animal lover..your book sounds like one I could curl up with in my cozy corner of my bedroom and escape..

    1. Terry, Escape Claws is really an animal lover’s cozy, so I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. Best of luck ~

  12. I really prefer an English setting but it makes no real difference. I’m an Agatha Christie fan so the British Mysteries capture my attention

    1. Ruth, I love English settings, too. Especially of the Miss Marple variety! Good luck ~

  13. Books sounds like great fun. New England is always a fun setting for cats taking over the world. Would really like to read it soon.

  14. Eatery is a great place for a cozy because it deals with food as well as mystery. Who doesn’t love food? Besides I really enjoy recipes from stories to try out. Again, book stores make great cozy stories because then you get to explore books or it’s characters are like us – love books.

    Thanks for the chance to win an e-Book of ESCAPE CLAWS!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. I love cozies set in eateries, too, as well as those set in bookstores. Thanks for stopping by, Kay, and good luck!

  15. Oh, boy!! A new series with cats in a small New England town. Couldn’t get better. I love reading about your thought processes that went into the development of the series. The more I learn how writers work, the more impressed I am and the more appreciative I am of really good books.

    1. Thanks, Barbara…and honestly, it was kind of daunting. I began to wonder if I was crazy myself!

  16. It’s fun to see behind the scenes as a new series is created like this. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you’ve got the cozy part down for sure, although my allergies are acting up thinking about those cats.

  17. Hi I would love to read this cat series and hope I am . The lucky winner.
    Love the cover!

  18. I really enjoyed the interview and description of the book. I love the cover and like books with a cat featured in the storyline. Can’t wait to read “Escape Claws”.

  19. I am just learning to love cats. We lost my son’s beloved tuxedo ” Big Cat” about 6 months ago. About 3 months ago we found two abandoned 3 week old kittens in our shed. We bottle fed them and they have become an enormous amount of love and amusement to both my husband and myself.
    I am not ultra picky about settings. However, I love it when whatever the chosen setting is greatly appreciated in the eyes of the narrator. I also expect said narrator, if she/he has a job to spend a good amount of time at said job, describing details of their days, and not passing off most of their work to go investigating.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Becky. Cats are so special. They know how to warm your heart.

  20. Sounds like my kind of story. I love cozy mysteries, NH and cats. As a retired teacher with arthritis, it seems like a reasonable premise.

    1. Thanks, Sandy. Escape Claws is a New Hampshire cozy mystery with cats, so I think you might enjoy it!

Comments are closed.