A Man and His Cat. Symbols and premise in a coming of age story.

By Susan Arden

Opening scenes are one of the first and last things I think about during story creation. How to set the tone of the story is crucial.

In Twice Tempted, the opening scene shifted and changed remarkably during revision. I alternated, trying different POVs, changing from the heroine to hero. At one point, the hero's tenant Mrs. Rubio, stole the opening scene.

But finally, about a week before the book went to the final proofing (yeah, after edits and revisions), the opening scene was changed. Again. I wasn't happy painting the hero into the worst of lights.

So I wiped the slate clean, cut and moved up one of the scenes to what is now featured.

The atmosphere: Hung-way-over from another night in paradise, discontent, and questioning how off-track his life has became, Rob basically trades his authenticity for cash. The whole texture of the scene was bleak, a parallel is the rough as sandpaper texture which Rob defines as the interior of his mouth.

The revised scene: Waking, Rob stares at a pussy splayed across his chest.
His pet, people! Shelby, his cat and only live-in companion, is there keeping him company.

In Twice Tempted, it was the first time I'd written a secondary character as a cat. I drew from my own calico kitty (Elvira), using her as the basis for Shelby, Rob's cat.

Shelby is a barometer of sorts in that even though Rob's existence is wacko, he is connected to a living being. And one whom he has to make arrangements for when he lives the country. His ties to Shelby force him to connect to others like Mrs. Rubio, his neighbor. Initially with Sam, the heroine, this is the only piece of personal info that Rob shares as he shows her a cellphone screensaver of Shelby to prove his roommate is a cat.

Imagine, hooking up with a man who flashes you his phone, and there's a snapped pix of his cat. Mind you Rob is a professional photographer. Of course he could have some exotic landscape but that would be too egotistical for a man doing a body slide down the corporate career ladder.

And these are the elements at issue in Twice. The opposing relationship conflicts of the story where one person spiraling while another person, by all accounts is rising (an illusion). A big part of the picture in a coming of age romance where shaking free of expectations (one's own, family, and society) is explored and addressed by the hero and heroine.

An erotic love story.
One love, two people, four years, and a secret baby.
~Opening Scene Excerpt~

Miami, Florida
Rob peeled open his eyes, groaning loudly into a set of white whiskers. On his chest his cat sat purring, proud as furry peacock. Fully clothed, Rob lay sprawled on top of his bed.

Unabashed, the cat continued to rub its cheek against his chin. "Shelby, hold on, girl," he said between gritted teeth.

The pounding in his head was reminiscent of an angry-as-hell jackhammer. Another night in paradise, and he’d gotten too shit-faced to enjoy the scenery.

"Damn," he groaned, picking up the calico and placing her on the floor.

Upright in bed, his world became much more painful. He tightened his hold on his head and squeezed, leaning back against the headboard. What in the hell time was it anyway?
Bleary-eyed, Rob squinted at the clock. Fucking fantastic. He’d forgotten to set his alarm. In less than an hour he was due downtown for a photo-shoot. He thought of his client, Cynthia Cainwright, and the stabbing pain in his head worsened.

Things do get a whole lot better for the hero. And yes, Shelby is there throughout this story that spans four years.

SO TO ALL THE CAT LOVERS, SHELBY IS ONBOARD FOR THE DURATION. Yippie for romance readers with a soft spot for pets.

So far, for each romance I've written, animals are featured. Actually, a host of animals from house pets to horses, cattle (and a calf), and even dolphin have played a roll. I love animals of every shape. I share my life with several, including cats, dogs, a snake and a sweet ole gecko.

Pets capture our hearts. And as a writer, I'd never go anywhere without one of my pet companions, real or imagined. From the heart, cheers!


My recommendation for the holidays!

Back to Top