Alien Cats in
Writers are collectors of ideas and information. We read
myths and legends from around the world, take bits and pieces of these and
personal experience and weave them into paranormal tales.
So what, you say. Big deal.
The big deal is that leopards are not native to New Zealand.
We don’t have any native mammals except a very small bat. Private individuals are
not allowed to keep exotic animals, and although we have zoos and a few safari
parks that keep big cats, it would be a big deal if one escaped. The public
would hear about it, believe me!
Animals that are sighted in areas where they wouldn’t
normally live are referred to as aliens. Some people who believe in
conspiracies say that they really are
released by aliens. From a writer’s point of view, this could add an
interesting element to a story, but I digress.
The idea of a big cat roaming Canterbury had plot bunnies
jumping through my brain, but I couldn’t find the right fit until one night I
watched a news article about the country town of Middlemarch and their shortage
of marriageable women. The two ideas blended into one, which then became the
basis for my Middlemarch Mates series.
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Excerpt from Scarlet Woman, Middlemarch Mates, book one.
“Cut it out, the pair of you,” Saber said, trying to scowl
his boisterous younger brothers into obedience. Despite laying down the law
this afternoon, the four were out of control. He had to get them settled before
one of their harmless pranks boiled over into something that threatened them
“Yeah, gotta remember, this is punishment,” Leo chided,
humor dancing in his dark eyes.
Joe let out a low whistle. “I vote the lady in red
administers my punishment.”
Saber relaxed a fraction. Good. His plan was working
already. If he managed to get each of his brothers mated, they’d cut out the
mischievous shenanigans and settle down to raise a litter or two. And he
wouldn’t have to worry about articles in the paper like the one he’d seen last
Black panther sighted again.
At least the article had lit a match under the council
elders. Finally. Agreement that they needed to do something to help the younger
males settle. Saber’s mouth firmed in introspection as he recalled the heated
meeting. The council had discussed the lack of females of marriageable age.
They knew the causes—the feline families tended to have male offspring while
the human females seemed to enjoy the lifestyle offered in the city of Dunedin
or farther afield. They attended high school and university in the city and
never returned to their birthplace. The human males left too, but they tended
to return after exploring a little of the world outside Middlemarch. Until the
reporter’s story had appeared, no one had tried to solve the problem of a
lopsided gender ratio. The article in the paper had been the catalyst. They’d
all swung into action to organize a dance they hoped would benefit both the
young shifter and human males living in Middlemarch. The task they’d called
impossible suddenly became imperative.
Saber eyed Felix and Leo, the brothers standing closest to
him, feeling the tension brought about by responsibility coalesce into a solid
lump in his chest. They both strenuously denied taking part in the prank, but
Saber wasn’t so sure. He knew his brothers—where there was fun to be had, they
were in the thick of it.
Felix nudged Sly. “Big bro’s looking serious. He’s got
Mission Mate on his mind again.”
Joe leaned closer and whispered, “Can’t have shape shifters
roaming around Middlemarch for the humans to see.”
“Enough,” Saber snapped. His brothers sobered, knowing
they’d pushed him far enough tonight. Dammit, he had to find them mates. It was
too late for him. But not for them.
Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a rambunctious
puppy called Bella. She writes spicy romance for Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave
and Samhain Publishing. To learn more about Shelley and her books visit her