Finding Gabriel

Readers sometimes ask me, “Where do you find your characters?”

Usually, that’s easy. I find them in coffee shops, in airports, on college campuses – and I sometimes wake up with a character who invaded my dreams.

But one particular character lives with me and doesn’t mind that I used her as a major part of my novel, “The Unraveling of Reverend G.”

Years ago, I read about a cat who was on the staff of an assisted living facility in Rhode Island. This cat had the uncanny ability to sense when one of the residents was near death, allowing the staff to contact family members.

I just happened to read that article, but somehow God kept it cached in my memory.

So when my novel started to take shape, I knew I wanted a cat to be part of the plot line – a cat who had the same type of gift.

I did my research and contacted medical professionals. Yes, such a thing was not only possible but they had seen it happen. Yes, in their opinions, such a cat would make an interesting character.

But what breed of cat? As a farm girl from Oklahoma – where the wind comes sweeping down the plains – I have known and loved various breeds of cats. Everything from Siamese to calico to the mixed blood of the typical barn cat.

As I pondered Gabriel’s breed, my own cat jumped on the laptop and proceeded to type //////////// across the page.

Of course, right in front of me was the furry answer.

BetsyMy own cat, Betsy, is a beautiful tortoiseshell – a rescue cat who was given to me by my sister. She arrived on July 4th, hence the name Betsy Ross.

Although my Betsy, unlike her historic counterpart, knows nothing about flags, she knows how to curl up and snuggle for a 16-hour nap. She is smart and extremely verbal. She lets me know when she’s hungry and reminds me when it’s time to go to bed. She even has a different meow when my son comes home, so I know he’s safe.

As Betsy became my inspiration for Gabriel, I changed the gender of the cat in my book, to protect her anonymity. Oddly enough, when I haven’t included Gabriel in plot lines or chapters, Betsy is the one who reminds me.

She jumps on the laptop, signs in with her /////////////// or even *********** and once – she stepped on the power button and turned me off.

I guess she’s become not only a character, but also my feline editor.

©2013 RJ Thesman

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