Well, here I am… a day late and a dollar short, as they say. Though in this particular case, I’m several weeks late to the party. However, my dear friend and Roses Sister, Savannah Jezowski just released another story to the wilds of Readerland and even if moving and being internetless for over a week did mean that I got VERY behind on ALL the things and totally missed the blog tour party… I still want to help her celebrate!
So today, for your reading pleasure, I’d like to introduce you to not one, but TWO of her newest characters to hit the page: Romeo and Pursy!
First of all, a little bit about these two stories:
Part One: As shadows encroach on the city of Lite, one cat stands between humanity and the hounds of darkness. Romeo takes it upon himself to find a suitor for his human Isabel in order to save the city and sets his sights on the unlikeliest of candidates. Can true love really save the day?
Part Two: When Isabel disappears in the middle of the night, matters take a turn for the worst. Romeo finds himself trekking through the dangerous wildlands to rescue the young queen with a clownish wizard, a sassy she-cat, a pretty healer, and a mysterious solider. However, their only hope may be the very thing Romeo fears most. Can Romeo and his friends save the day before the shadows consume them?
The Witching Hour is a frolicking fantasy adventure with fairy tale themes and clean romance. Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Lloyd Alexander.
I have read Part One and found it delightful, and I can’t wait to read Part Two!
On to the interview…
When I open my eyes, I find myself in a large, open room that is far more beautiful than any place I have ever been in my own world. The vaulted, glass ceiling above soars to heights that make me dizzy when I glance up. Sunlight spills down on my head, unfiltered and warm, and I take a moment to soak it in. On earth, there is still quite a bit of snow in my yard! I glance about, trying to spot a hint of the characters I’ve been sent to interview, but the room seems empty. I shrug and begin wandering about the vast room, peering into the shadows as I go, pulling aside the occasional corner of a tapestry to look behind it… but still, not a whisker to be seen.
Finally, I notice a glimmer of movement up by the throne. Keeping the figure in the corner of my eye, I saunter casually in that general direction, though I work very hard to maintain my own nonchalance. When I get a little closer, I can see that I have indeed found my interviewees, or at least one of them. A long, ginger tail twitches behind the throne.
I clear my throat respectfully. “Excuse me, esteemed feline, might you perchance be the one they call Pursy?”
Amber eyes glow unblinkingly at me from the base of the throne.
“Who wants to know?” a voice from behind me demands, and I turn to see a sleek black cat sitting at my feet, sedately licking one paw.
“My name is Jenelle Schmidt and I’m from the InterFiction Gazette, I was sent to interview a Romeo and Pursy. Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves?”
Both cats begin speaking at once then flounder into silence. Finally, Romeo sprawls across the marble floor, his tail flicking against the ground. “She-cats first,” he says, sounding a wee bit annoyed.
“Thank you, how uncommonly gracious of you,” Pursy replies with an amused meow. “My name is Pursy. I belong to the royal healer Rose. She found me when I was just a kitten and took me to the Royal College with her to study medicine. I’m actually quite indispensable to Rose and her work as a healer, you know.”
Romeo coughs, his tail flicking a little harder.
“Do you have something you’d like to add to that?” Pursy asks around a sultry purr. “Or are you working a furball?”
“Neither. Is it my turn?”
Pursy’s eyes narrow, but she sits down as if to indicate she will concede the floor to him.
“Anyway, my name is Romeo, as I’m sure you know. My book is all about me, after all, so you should know all about me, if my Author did her job remotely well. You can never tell with humans, you know. You’re an unpredictable lot.” He eyes me suspiciously, as though expecting me to do something unpredictible. I am overcome with a nearly irresistible urge to shout suddenly or swoon, just to prove him right, or get a rise out of him… though I’m fairly certain it won’t work. “Anyway, I am the royal mouse chaser and belong to Isabel, the future queen of Lite, the city where we live. Our home is quite different from yours. For some reason, my Author found it necessary to put us in a dog-eaten world of hounds and shadows and damp, yucky things. I also understand you only write about magic. You don’t actually have it, like we do.”
“You have such a gift for making people feel right at home,” Pursy says, rolling her eyes. “We really are quite happy you’re here, Jenelle-dear, and won’t hold your lack of magic or fur against you. Will we? Romeo?”
Romeo sniffs and rolls onto his back to stretch his paws in all directions in luxurious but inelegant pose. “If you say so. Some of us have standards, you know.”
I stifle a grin. “Since you brought up the difference between us humans and cats, I have to admit, most of my readers are humans. Can you expound for them a bit on what it is like to be a cat?”
“It’s quite fun, actually,” Pursy replies. “You can wander around unnoticed most of the time. As long as you aren’t shredding the furniture or leaving muddy paw prints all over the place—” Here she spears Romeo with a knowing look. “—then humans tend to let you do what you please until they want a snuggle. That’s the best part. I love being pet. Don’t you, Romeo?”
“Depends on who’s doing the petting, but, yes, I do enjoy a good chin scratch and back rub.” Romeo seems to perk up a little and eyes me as if he might consent to a good back rub right this moment.
I kneel down and run my hand over his soft fur. At first he simply sniffs and looks away, his manner bristling slightly, but after a moment of me stroking his head I can hear a reluctant purr begin to rise from the depths of his chest.
I settle down on the floor next to him, playing with the area just behind his ears. “Because you are a cat, I’m guessing you are fairly vital to the events transpiring in your world right now. Can you tell me a little bit about your role in the grand scheme of your story?”
“Yes, I certainly can, and you are right about me being vital to the story,” Romeo says, pushing his nose against my hand.
“How important we are to the story,” Romeo corrects, sounding sheepish. “If it weren’t for us, I don’t think there would even be a story. When it all begins, the lights are going out in the city and unless I found a suitor for my human Isabel, they could go out altogether.”
“It would be most unpleasant,” Pursy inserts. “Shadows and hounds would overrun the city and a lot of people and creatures would probably die. So our humble mouse chaser here is correct on this point.”
“Are you implying I’m incorrect on other points?” Romeo asks, rolling his head against my knee.
“If the whiskers fit, you might as well wear them. But do go on. Tell her about the darkening king.”
Romeo sits up abruptly and frowns at her. “I don’t think I should. You remember what our Author said about spoilers. We aren’t supposed to talk about certain things.”
“Yes, I do remember, but I didn’t think she meant we couldn’t talk about anything.”
“You can talk about a lot of things, just not the darkening king. Or the hounds. You probably shouldn’t say too much about them either, or you might ruin things.””
“Can I talk about the romances?”
“Romances? Why would you want to talk about that?”
“Well, there are so many of them in this book. Your Isabel and the chimney sweep, the wizard and my human…you and me.”
Romeo falls to a violent fit of coughing. “No, I don’t think you should talk about that at all.”
Pursy glances sideways at me and delicately swipes at one paw with her tongue. “Perhaps I’ll just not say anything, then.”
I peer at her curiously, wondering how much to press the matter, but the mention of spoilers is one I, as a member of the InterFiction Gazette, hold in the highest of regard. If spoilers are to be spilled, it will not be due to sloppy reporting on MY part. Instead, I decide to change tactics. “Which is better: chasing string, staring at invisible things, or napping? Or is there something better than all three of those?”
“Napping,” Romeo answers promptly.
Pursy snorts and pretends to hack at a furball. “My apologies. Ahem. You would say that.”
“And why wouldn’t I? She asked.”
“Yes, well, you might have pretended not be a fat, lazy kitty, you know. Haven’t you ever heard of putting your best paw forward?”
Romeo glowers at her, eyes narrowing. “Yes, well, some of us value integrity over our fluffy fur coats.”
“Do you have something against my coat?” Pursy slinks up alongside him, rubbing her body against his. “I rather thought you liked it.”
Romeo scowls and bounds away from her to a more appropriate distance.
I do my best not to let them see my laughter. “If you could be anything but a cat for one day, would you choose to do so? What would you choose and why?”
Romeo’s spine arches. “Absolutely not.”
“Sure,” Pursy says at the exact same moment. The two cats eye one another, tails twitching in agitation.
“It’s insulting to the name of cat.” Romeo sniffs and begins to lick his front paw.
Pursy twitches her tail across his nose, causing him to give out a sudden sneeze. “Oh, don’t be a stick-in-the-mud. Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like to be bigger? Or to have wings? I wouldn’t mind being a bird for a day: I bet it makes it a lot easier to find breakfast when you can fly around above the ground and get a good view of things.”
Romeo’s fur slowly settles as he cocks his head and considers her words. “That is a mildly intriguing thought,” he concedes, “although, still very insulting.”
“Forgive me, I meant no offense,” I hurry to say. “I just thought it might be a question my readers would find intriguing. Perhaps you will like this one better: what is the one thing you like best about being a cat?”
“The only thing better than being a cat is being a magical cat,” Pursy says with a proud arch of her spine. She strikes a lazy pose and looks at me as if expecting to be admired. I grin at her and this seems to appease her vanity. “I think the thing I like best is how cats can orchestrate things behind the scenes, without humans even realizing what we’re doing. Some humans are clever and figure it out, like Rose and the wizard Cyril. But most humans never know the sacrifices we make for them.” She glances at Romeo as she says this and something sad and almost reverent seems to creep into her tone. The cats look at each other for an awkward moment.
At last, Romeo diverts his attention back to me. “Yes, on this point I do think Pursy is correct,” he says quietly. He shifts as if uncomfortable and seems to be struggling to find the right words. “I suppose we shouldn’t say much else on that subject either. Spoilers, you know.”
Ah, there it is again, the line I mustn’t cross. I stand, resisting the urge to brush cat-fur from my clothes… crossing the dimensions back to my own world will take care of that anyway… and I give a polite bow.
“Thank you so much for answering my questions today,” I say. “I greatly look forward to reading more of your stories.”
Both cats ignore me, their attention suddenly caught by something on the other side of the room. A mouse? A speck of dust dancing in a ray of sunshine? Who can say? Tails twitching, they creep toward it together as my badge begins to glow and I fade from their world.
Savannah Jezowski lives in Amish country with her Knight in Shining Armor and a wee warrior princess. She is the founder of Dragonpen Designs and Dragonpen Press, which offers author services such as cover design, developmental edits, and interior formatting. Her debut novella “Wither” is featured in Five Enchanted Roses, an anthology of Beauty and the Beast, and is a prequel to The Neverway Chronicles, a Christian fantasy series filled with tragic heroes and the living dead. She is also the author of When Ravens Fall, a Norse Beauty and the Beast retelling. She is featured in several Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, including Mythical Doorways, Tales of Ever After, and Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales. When she isn’t writing, Savannah likes to read books, watch BBC miniseries, and play with cover design. She also enjoys having tea with her imaginary friends.