This may not actually work, but it’s a thing I’m trying: The Cat in the Moon, a novel from the subcontinent.
Offshore the subcontinent, precisely: Kyrland is an archipelagic nation.
Through a chain of uninteresting circumstances and coincidences, the kindness of friends and strangers, a year after the market adjustment relieved me of employment my cat and I found ourselves invited to live at Castle Heddr in the West Country demesne of Ggegos. All I knew of Heddr was its being one of the ancient feudal manors, older than the nation as such, and that its orchards produced perry and a well respected aqua vitae. Before my job and income evaporated, I’d sampled both in bistros that prided themselves on reinventing traditional Kyrlander cuisine for the sophisticate’s palate.
I had sold my automobile long before, of course: Accito (the cat) and I drove northwest from Girrow on an old motorino held together by prayer and curses—Accito’s the louder the first little while until he lapsed into resentful catatonia in his cage strapped to the moto’s seat behind me. An acquaintance had pressed on me several half tablets of a drug meant to calm him, ease him to sleep. I envied his chemical solace.
The moto was too slow to be safe or legal on the highway so, although I set out early in the morning, it was fully dark before I reached Heddr, a kind of island hummocked above the desolate salt bogs north of Ggegos town. They had expected me earlier. The countess had retired for the evening, I was told, but her steward took me in hand, imperturbable as all good servants of the very wealthy. Carrying a hamper in which I would discover the choicest comestibles I’d encountered in many months (including a whole baked fish for Accito), she beckoned me along the pathways of the castle’s gardens. I was not, it seemed, to reside in Heddr itself. I wheeled the moto and sleeping cat behind her, between low box and tall yew hedges and down aisles of dim, ankle-high lamps for a confusing distance.
“The Cat in the Moon” started out in late July 2012 with the intention of not aspiring to a novel’s italicized title and of fitting the remit for Steve Berman’s forthcoming anthology Bad Seeds. I was perhaps not quite enthusiastic about that remit—and nor, as it turned out, were the characters. As the MS resisted fitting into the word count I’d arbitrarily declared it must not pass I would put it aside and attempt other approaches to Steve’s theme, ultimately succeeding with the short story “You Deserve.” Not a tale from the subcontinent: set nearer by, in the everyday Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Still, I kept (and keep) returning to Castle Heddr in the demesne of Ggegos, in the West Country of the Kingdom of Kyrland, where Trifenten Countess ef-als-Ggegos for no apparent reason offers shelter to a stranger from the capital, unemployed merchant banker Wolon Esfrede, and his cat, Accito.
It’s a Gothic tale, I think, and I rather hope there’s sufficient incident, intrigue, and setting to make a sixty- or seventy-thousand-word novel. We’ll see. It’s a project, anyway, and something to preoccupy me through the long, cruel winter and spring…until blessed summer, when I intend a(nother) major revision of The Unexpected Thing.
(updated on the eve of the winter solstice [northern hemisphere] 2012)