Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Guest Author: Shelley Munro

Alien Cats in Middlemarch

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.
One news story that caught my attention was in our New Zealand Herald about a mysterious black cat sighted in the Canterbury region of the South Island, New Zealand. This internet article on Mysterious New Zealand details some of the sightings of what are thought to be black leopard.
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.

Back to alien cats. New Zealand isn’t the only country with alien cats roaming the countryside. In England they have the Beast of Dartmoor, a big cat that roams the lonely moors of Dartmoor. Popular opinion says a big cat could easily live on the moor, given the isolated land and the large number of stock that graze the moors. In England they passed a law in 1976 called the Dangerous Animal act where owners were legally bound to register exotic animals and keep them in secure conditions. Many couldn’t or wouldn’t comply and were thought to have released their animals into the wild. Here’s a link to a 2010 article about big cats on the loose in England.

Sightings of alien cats are also prevalent in Australia. It’s said that American soldiers are responsible for their presence. They took mascots to Australia with them and released them into the wild before they returned home to the US.

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.
In my Middlemarch, a community of black leopard shapeshifter lives and loves while I chronicle their adventures. Learn more about my Middlemarch Mates series at my website.

CONTEST: Win an ebook from Shelley’s back list. To enter, please tell me if you’ve heard of alien cats before or tell me about your favorite type of paranormal species.

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 all.
“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 month.
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 website


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