The origin of Madeline McPhee and Angus

I was deep into writing my climate fiction trilogy, still a bit blue after writing my last not-so-cheery book (it was, after all, titled Memoir of the Depression), when I zipped off a light-hearted story about my cat Ellen DeGeneres (adopted from a shelter where all the cats were famous) to Chicken Soup of the Soul’s call for stories about the antics of cats.

At the time, my friends and family had been patting me on the arm, telling me that my writing was a bit heavy. So when the story about Ellen was accepted for publication, it occurred to me that I might just try my hand at writing murder mysteries with a strong feline presence to cheer myself up after working on the dystopian stories I love so well. And, of course, I love all things Scottish… tea, scones, plaid, the accent. And the Madeline McPhee mysteries were born.

The titles were inspired many years ago by my Aunt Gail’s renaming of my cat Teacake, who’d come to me as a stray and who was very sweet but very grumpy. Gail pronounced Teacake “The Wreck of the Hiss Purr Hiss”, a name inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Wreck of the Hesperus”. In the spirit of the drama in Longfellow’s poem and the antics of cats in the McPhee mysteries, the titles in the series are inspired by the poem’s lines with a feline twist.

You can find more about my other work, as well as information on how to reduce your exposure to toxic environmental chemicals at my nerdier site: But then come back over here to cheer yourself up.