Some readers in the past have asked me to write a sequel to Serendipity and Me. I didn’t say no, but I didn’t say yes, either. Until recently, I didn’t feel any compulsion to write a sequel.
Now, suddenly, I do. I don’t know why or where it came from. I think I just woke up one morning and went, “Oh, that’s what happens next.” And because it’s a story with characters that I love, they are goading me forward. They are telling me, “This is our story. Make sure you write it down.” And so I’ve started.
The kitten that arrived after Serendipity was already written is making writing easier. She is such a wild, weird creature that there’s all sorts of new cat material to incorporate into this manuscript.
When will I be a media star?
I don’t know how many of her antics I’ll use, but I’m happy for the inspiration.
What? You said you needed inspiration….
Like Sara with Serendipity, there’s a new baby in the house.
We were on the porch eating dinner when we heard the sounds of a kitten in distress. My son (Corey), his friend and I raced outside and found her across the street, in the bushes leading down to the river. She was far from any houses on that side of the street. We came to the conclusion (from the scrape on her chin) that she’d been thrown from a car, left to fend for herself. She seemed scared to be alone and came to us gratefully.
We brought her in the house and she made herself at home. My son said he’d take her to college with him. I thought that was a good idea. At the time. Now she’s been here a week and I can’t imagine how it will feel to have her gone.
I would tell you her name, but my son has yet to name her and he won’t let me do it. (Her name is Skitters. Don’t tell him I said that.)
Here is an odd thing: Corey’s cat died of extreme old age in May. Princess was an unusual-looking cat. Technically a calico, but with less white than they usually have. This new kitten, except for her face, could be a twin to Princess. She even walks the same way.
We miss Princess and we’re very grateful for such a perfect replacement.
Although the cornfield boys aren’t too happy about it….
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.
Cat culprits on campus
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.
Stinky, about 3 years later
The galleys have arrived with the final cover, so I can share it now. Here is what the cover of Serendipity & Me will look like.
Release date: February 7, 2013 from Viking. We are now working on first pass pages to make the insides as perfect as possible. Final editing of novels written in verse is a little different than regular novels because the placement of words has to look right on the page, line for line. This involves some tweaking, some cutting, some smooshing. (Not really. At least, I don’t think they do any smooshing.) Interesting work.