I am Mercury, a striped and spotted, silver and white tabby (though I strongly prefer "tiger cat"), who lives in Austin, Texas and works with two children's authors, one of whom also practices patent law.
My female writer is Cynthia Leitich Smith. As a writer cat, it's my job to meow out encouragement. I’m also a good listener but have been known to fall asleep when Cyn’s stories start to drag. By now, she’s probably figured out that’s my hint that it’s time to revise.
My male writer is Greg Leitich Smith. He’s fond of classical music, Star Trek (what engineer isn't?), and wrestling with me (he, of course, requires the protection of a fencing glove, because I’m so adept at using my teeth and claws). He writes in his office, which means he lacks my help. This is why Cyn's manuscripts read better.
But enough about them. It’s my page.
Mine! Do you hear me?
Okay, I admit it. I copied the layout from Cyn site (don't try this at home —as I mentioned above, one of my humans is an intellectual property shark, second row of teeth grown in and everything). But I am a member of the family, Top Cat in fact, so I figure I'm well within my rights.
I adopted Cynthia and Greg on July 12, 1997 at The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. "Boo" is the name given to me by the people there. Cyn, Greg, and I mutually decided I should be called "Mercury" (or "Merc") as well because I am silver, quick, and rather god-like —although you've probably already noticed.
On the ride home, I tried to eat my way out of the cardboard carrying case. My meows were so fierce that the cab driver said, "We don’t transport exotic animals here." I’m not sure whether that was an insult or a compliment. After all, I was a mere nine and a half weeks at a time. Aren’t all babies beautiful and precious, teeth and claws aside?
Since then, I have grown and reconsidered the carrying case. In fact, I now play in it. I’ve also taken over my new loft and oversee its every nook and book.
However, a dark shadow has drifted over my otherwise perfect life. It has come to my attention that my writer claims my esteemed career as a writer cat is nothing more than a cover for alleged pen thievery. In the interests of avoiding a law suit that could damage our fine working relationship, we are in mediation in hopes of resolving this slanderous allegation.
But I am not above appealing to the court of public opinion. The truth is that my writer is a notorious scatter mind. She is forever abandoning her pens. I merely collect them for her. It is not my fault if she fails to appreciate the obvious handiness of having one's pens placed under bookshelves and furniture.
One more thing: there is this small cat who Cyn and Greg are calling "Sebastian Doe" or "squirrel" (and — worse! — they're calling me "moose" now) that has been intruding in my space lately. I'm right now pretending that he doesn't exist, and so I have little more to say about the matter right now. He's small and pouncy and always in my way. But he is a grey tabby (light, not properly dark like me), and so there is a bit of hope. I suppose.
Now, that we have cleared that unpleasantness out of the way . . . .
Profession: writer cat and savior of forgotten pens.
Hobbies: scaling bookshelves; reprogramming computers; nibbling toes; batting paper balls; sleeping on the windowsill; drinking tap water out of the bathroom faucet.
Prized possessions: five-foot tall kitty condo, trimmed in turquoise carpet; fuzzy crinkle balls; quilted sleeping bag; Banjo I and Banjo II. Note that Banjo I and II were both gifts from Cyn's mom (a nice woman desperate for grandchildren and making due for now with this cat). Banjo II was sent when Banjo I was thought to have disappeared. In reality, he was hiding behind a stack of video tapes.
Likes: naps; paper balls; Bach; cat-related children's literature; watching downhill skiing on TV.
Dislikes: water (except for drinking); vacuum cleaner; hair dryer; double-sided sticky tape; fire alarm; being ignored; Cyn's collection of "Meatloaf" CDs; Cyn's mysterious preoccupation with the movie "Teen Witch;" Simba, the noisy dog next door (owned by rather decent humans).
What? You're still here? Aren't you supposed to be reading or writing or napping or pouncing or something?
Can't a hard-working cat take a dinner break?
What was that?
Oh, you're a writer without a cat.
Poor, pathetic human. You want my help. My advice.
Well, I'm no guru, baby. I'll hand you the quote I share with my writers when they start slacking off:
"If you would not be forgotten,
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worthy reading,
Or do things worth the writing."
So said Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790),
What? You wanted coddling? Emotional support?
Fine, hire a dog.
Nice people, the dogs.
But they'll sign off on anything for a biscuit.
Hi! Hi! Hi! Pouncy, pouncy, pouncy!
So Doe, as in John Doe — like that could provide some emotional distance from cute, cute, cute little me.
Sebastian because my other human, children's author Greg Leitich Smith, is a great fan of Bach, as in Johann Sebastian. And there you go! Why was Cyn worried? Because I was a scrawny little foundling with earmites and all kinds of icky things.
My family not only includes my humans and the big boss cat, but also two kitties that actually listen to me! Well, sometimes.
They’re too busy playing to host their own pages, so I’ll introduce them:
Blizzard Bentley (left) is a fluffy white cat, whose name was inspired by the book SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian (Houghton Mifflin, 1998). It won the Caldecott Medal, which is a big deal.
Galileo “Leo” Galilei (right) is a type of spotted brown tabby called an Egyptian Mau. Leo was named after a famous human named Galileo, whose story inspired Greg to write NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO (Little Brown, 2003). Both Blizzard and Leo were adopted at Town Lake Animal Center in central Austin.