Everyone often wonders where Lilian Jackson Braun gets the inspiration for her fabulous Cat Who… series. First of all, she writes about things she knows well. Since she spent so much of her life in the newspaper business, she chose to write stories about a journalist. A male journalist. Why a man? So they (the readers) don't automatically assume that the stories are autobiographical. She also wanted to kill the notion that journalists drink a lot, so she put her character on the wagon. From that emerged Jim Qwilleran, art writer (and former alcoholic) for the Daily Fluxion.
Where are Pickax and Moose County, you may ask? Nobody knows, and since they're not supposed to be real places anyway, part of the fun seems to be guessing exactly where Lilian Jackson Braun had in mind when she created them. Being a Minnesotan myself, I particularly see these places as being located in Minnesota, and just that idea somehow helps me to identify with the stories that much more. Many others are in agreement with me. Others vote for Wisconsin or Michigan, and some even believe that the mysteries take place in Maine, though that's hard to believe for most; after all, Qwilleran is described as the richest man in the "Northeast Central United States."
The people of Moose County, as well as out favorite cats, Koko and Yum Yum, are all combinations of people and cats Lilian Jackson Braun has known. She also adds bits and pieces of information from her imagination, and even fan mail provides some interesting things. If someone writes in with an unusual name of a cat they know, or mention a specific place, or whatever, you may just see that particular reference in a future installment of the series. I would guess that it makes the readers feel like they're a little bit more interactive with the stories. It also probably creates a lot of smiles (and friends) within her avid readership.
Lilian's cats have been key in Lilian's creation of Koko and Yum Yum. After all, who could actually invent all of the crazy things that cats do? As Lilian obviously knows, and as I've always known myself, having had cats all my life, some of the things cats do one could never possibly even think of on their own. But the cats sure do! Lilian's second Koko, named Koko the Great for his vast intelligence, gave Lilian many ideas for fictional Koko. As we all know just by reading the series that the cats were possessive of Qwilleran and never really did like any of his female friends, so he was famous for "throwing them out." Koko the great was known for this as well. He knew his bedtime, so he wanted people to GO HOME, and he seemed to be very effective in doing this. His favorite way was to do sort of a Lassie-type thing: convince someone to follow him to the door, and if they didn't follow him the first time he tried, he'd keep turning around, coming back, and trying it again until the person who, in his opinion, needed to leave, followed him to the door. Lilian's second Yum Yum was known as Yum Yum the Paw for her habit of swiping anything bright and shiny, or just anything that wasn't tied down, and hiding it under something. Qwill's Yum Yum and Koko both were experienced kleptomaniacs, especially in The Cat Who Played Brahms and The Cat Who Went Into the Closet. In Brahms, Yum Yum grabbed many things and hid them under the sofa, including Rosemary Whiting's lipstick, the gold pen that she gave Qwill, and Qwill's gold watch. In Closet, both pilfered many things out of the various closets in the Gage mansion. Koko specializes in documents, and not only did he come up with the research for The Big Burning, but he came up with many other things as well, all marked with his "signature," two fang puncture marks.
Lilian adds a lot of herself in Qwilleran. And her books. Just the fact that she and Qwill are both journalists is a major aspect alone, but there are other things as well, such as writing style. Word processors have been boycotted by both, as well as the notion of sitting at a desk to write. Both writers prefer to write in a comfortable chair with their feet up, and a pad of paper and a thick lead pencil are their tools of choice. Also, both Qwill and Lilian enjoy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine and the same holiday tradition of reading portions of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.She's also very interested in preservation, which shows up heavily in The Cat Who Tailed a Thief.
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