When I was asked to move Serendipity & Me from a picture book manuscript to a novel-in-verse, the story had to expand. Obviously. “I think you have more to say about this little girl and her father,” the editor said. I just had to figure out what it was.
It shouldn’t have been too surprising that I learned the father was a professor at a small college–one just like the college I went to. Because a cat was deep at the heart of my college experience.
He was found outside my dorm by a suite mate. “What are you going to do with him?” I asked when she pulled the kitten out of her jacket in my dorm room. She didn’t know. She willingly gave him over to me. He was Not Allowed, so my roommate and I hid him in our room.
We thought we were doing well, but after about three weeks, the RA came to us. “I can’t keep pretending I don’t see him when he keeps showing up in my room,” she said. The little stinker would crawl under our door and head straight to hers.
Fortunately, my fiance’s RA was happy to pretend he didn’t see Stinky. So Stinky spent the next several months in Marc’s dorm room until we got married at the end of the semester.
Stinky spent a lot of time in Marc’s dorm window, obvious to all passersby that Unallowable Activity was happening in that room. But no one said anything. When I wrote about Sara’s father pretending not to notice the kittens in the dorm window, it was how I imagined the authorities at my college reacted to Stinky in Marc’s window.