TIN CAT was written with the aim of filling the submission guidelines for Entangled Publishing’s Geeks Unite! call. Although it has been a long time since I last read a comic, Manchester’s Forbidden Planet is still a must-visit whenever I’m in town, so having the main character run a comic book store was an obvious choice.
The next piece of inspiration came from an old Disney film; The Cat from Outer Space – in fact when I started writing I intended a modern update of the movie, but as I wrote certain things became very apparent. The first was that my antagonist was a time-travelling bank robber. The second was that the hero would be the man sent in pursuit of him. So the cat was no longer alien, but came from the future. A little more tweaking had her become an android, sent by the robber as a scout, but something goes wrong and she ended up in Amber’s hands.
Amber’s disability only came to light once I started writing – I didn’t set out to write her like that; rather she quietly informed me that she was and how that had come to happen. It also formed the basis of her fabulous support network – the fanboys and girls that frequent the shop and who kept it running while she was in hospital.
These friends were the key to my first issue with writing sci fi and disability. I desperately wanted to avoid a scenario where the future tech cured (temporarily or permanently) Amber’s injuries. It’s been done time and time again (yes, ST:TNG and Avatar – I’m looking at you) and feel that it dismisses the very real quality of life one can have even after a major accident. Though TIN CAT is by no means a Message, Amber is [mostly] positive and fiercely independent and I hope will be a very real person that just happens to be in a wheelchair.
Then there’s Gray. I think he came about from too many readings/ watchings of Lord of the Rings and the niggling desire that Strider had actually been Aragorn’s real name. So he decided on Hunter Gray and it stuck, though Amber does call him Gray (I might edit a couple and have her call him Hunter, though he pretty much answers to anything).
Physically, Gray is very much an amalgamation of several anti-heroes – the Terminator (in terms of his cyborg modifications), any number of Nameless Western Strangers and, as Amber notes, he has rather the Blade thing going on. The tanned skin and sexy accent may or may not have something to do with my obsession with a certain South African. I couldn’t possibly say (it does).
So there you have it – the inspirations for TIN CAT. Everything else sort of came out of actually writing it, as I never plan and just winged this like I did ELEANOR’S HEART. It works *shrugs*
A year after the accident that put her in a wheelchair, Amber Gerald has more or less gotten used to living with her impairment. It doesn’t make a difference to running a comic book store anyway, and the customers have been the best support group she could have wished for.
When she rescues an abandoned cat, Amber has no idea that she’s interfering in the mad scheme of a time travelling bank robber. Or that the man that walks into her store dressed like Blade is about to become her bodyguard.
Between being an unwitting owner of an android cat and falling for a cybernetic bounty hunter, Amber finds her life a whole new level of weird as science fiction becomes a very real factual threat.
Coming 4th March 2013 from Champagne Books