When journalist and literary critic Nilanjana S. Roy took in a stray kitten, little did she realise that the feline would introduce her to her world; one that would lead Nilanjana to pen her debut novel – The Wildings.
Says Nilanjana: “Mara, my cat introduced me to her friends, cats from around the neighbourhood. They had such different and distinct characters. One of them was a tomcat who loved lying on the stairs and look up women’s skirts. Another was an elderly cat who was very maternal and groomed all of the neighbourhood kittens.”
Finding the lives of these cats intriguing, Nilajana began writing a few stories based on the lives of cats and other neighbourhood animals. She stopped writing in 2007 when Mara died.
But then Bathsheba entered her life. “She is a stray like Mara. She is called Bathsheba because she was found in a bucket and needed a bath. She sees my computer as her domain and feels free to change the names of files on it. One day, she opened Mara’s file, entered question marks and sat there with a smirk on her face. That was it, I had to complete Mara’s tale.”
She adds: The various stories on the cats led to the novel. They grew and demanded grooming, feeding and my undivided attention. In that sense, writing’s a bit like having cats; once you’ve brought it into the house, it takes up as much of your time as it can.”