Wednesday Writers welcomes Janet W. Ferguson to the blog today. Janet will be talking about the inspiration behind one of the more unusual characters in her newest release, The Art of Rivers. Welcome, Janet.
We have a whiney-needy cat named White Kitty and a treat-loving dog named Remi. They pretty much follow me around the house, one meowing and the other begging. The cat always wants to sit on me when I write. Because of this, I end up being inspired to write animals into my fiction. In my first novel I had an ugly dog. In the next, I had a cat named Hairy. In my fourth book, my heroine had allergies so she had a hairless cat named Mr. Darcy.
The Art of Rivers deals with a tough issue—addiction. I wanted the comic relief that pets can add. I’d written cats and dogs. I wanted to branch out. Neither of my main characters seemed the type to have a pet, so I decided to give the animal to one of my secondary characters. One of my best friends is a vet, and I asked her opinion for a new kind of pet. She had a friend with… a pet possum (or opossum depending on where you come from.) I thought that sounded crazy-interesting! I interviewed the owner and wrote a fictional version of her baby into the story.
Here’s a little from our interview: He is very gentle. The only sound I have ever heard him make is when he was asleep, because he snores. He is so domesticated that he doesn’t hiss at anything. He loves other animals and thinks he’s just like them. He does stay in a nice size kennel when I’m gone during the day, but he has a bed and he loves his cover. He uses a litter box, but I take him outside regularly, and he sometimes goes outside. When I get home, I let him wander around the house. He is actually pretty lazy. I find him asleep a lot. He gets a bath once a week and he loves it. His hands and feet are very soft. He loves to be held, and he likes to hold onto my thumb when I’m holding him. His vision is very poor but his sense of smell is phenomenal. I had him neutered when he was six months old which took a lot of the aggression out of him. It tamed him down to the point he is a better pet than my cats. He knows his name and will come when you call him. He loves to eat. He eats cat food and various fruits. His favorite is strawberries. His little mouth is pink when he finishes with them. He smacks louder than any kid I have ever known. He has played possum on me several times and has scared me to death because I thought something had happened. He gets in trouble when he does that.
There you have! The inspiration for Phoenix in The Art of Rivers.
The Art of Rivers
by Janet Ferguson
Rivers Sullivan bears both visible and invisible scars—those on her shoulder from a bullet wound and those on her heart from the loss of her fiancé during the same brutal attack. Not even her background as an art therapist can help her regain her faith in humanity. Still, she scrapes together the courage to travel to St. Simons Island to see the beach cottage and art gallery she’s inherited from her fiancé. When she stumbles upon recovering addicts running her gallery, she’s forced to reckon with her own healing.
After the tragic drowning of his cousin, James Cooper Knight spends his days trying to make up for his past mistakes. He not only dedicates his life to addiction counseling, but guilt drives him to the water, searching for others who’ve been caught unaware of the quickly rising tides of St. Simons. When he rescues a peculiar blond woman and her sketch pad from a sandbar, then delivers this same woman to his deceased grandmother’s properties, he knows things are about to get even more complicated.
Tragic circumstances draw Cooper and Rivers closer, but they fight their growing feelings. Though Cooper’s been sober for years, Rivers can’t imagine trusting her heart to someone in recovery, and he knows a relationship with her will only rip his family further apart. Distrust and guilt are only the first roadblocks they must overcome if they take a chance on love.
Dark eyes and black, careless hair to match, her rescuer stared at her as if she were insane. Maybe she was. A current pulled her, launching her deeper into the rising tide. She could barely stand. Salty water splashed into her eyes and mouth. “Take this pad now! It’s getting wet!” She stretched her hand as high as she could, dog-paddling with the other to stay erect.
The man finally grabbed the tablet from her. Once both arms were free, she tried to swim toward the boat ladder, but a swell slapped her in the face. A moment later, strong hands grabbed her, pushed a red floating device under her, and pulled her toward the vessel.
“Just relax. But help me kick if you can.” He stayed close, guiding them along a rope tied to the hull.
At the ladder, he pushed her forward. “You go first. I’m right here. Let me know if you’re too tired to climb, and I’ll give you a shove from behind.”
The last thing she wanted was this stranger shoving her behind. “I got it.” She began her ascent, one waterlogged step at a time. “And I hope you put my sketchbook someplace dry.” The last sentence, she mumbled, since she probably should be thankful he’d come by at all.
“What?” The voice behind her sounded incredulous.
On board, she spied the pad lying on the passenger seat intact. “I said thanks for putting my sketchbook someplace dry.” She stood there dripping while he vaulted onboard.
“That is not what you said.” His brows furrowed under dripping strands of black hair.
Rivers took in the angle of his nose, observed the contoured lips leaving a small shadow above the scruff on his chin. There was something familiar and almost mesmerizing about his bone structure.
About the Author
Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.