Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Please welcome Kristan Higgins!

Apologies for being a bit late, all. Had trouble with Blogger today!!

Please welcome one of my favorite people in the WHOLE WORLD, my friend and amazing author Kristan Higgins!

Saving Cats

Hello again! It’s so nice to be back here with you lovely people! Thank you to the inimitable Cindy Gerard for having me back…all it took was a little blackmail. I am one of the few who knows about that tattoo, after all. (Ahem! It’s not where you think!)

At any rate, when thinking about what to write today, I went to my favorite subject. Men. Yep. I love men. That’s it in a nutshell, gang. I love romantic heroes. Just off the top of my head, here are some of my favorites: Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. We all love him, don’t we? The way he still sits on his side of the porch swing, unconsciously leaving room for his late wife?

Oh, man! Bud White from L.A. Confidential. Nothing like a thug trying to make good, know what I’m saying? Mm-mm! Tony Stark from Iron Man (or any role Robert Downey Jr. plays, because I am in love with him!).

Usher. He’s not really a romantic hero, but that smile could launch a thousand ships.

There are so many things to love about men…their hands. Their smiles. Their arms. Their inability to make a bed. But one of the things I love best about a hero is when he saves the cat.

This is a term I first heard a few years ago when I took a class given by the very lovely and much-missed Blake Snyder, a screenwriting guru and a wonderful speaker. Blake’s book is, in fact, called Save the Cat, and to the best of my knowledge, he invented the term. In essence, “save the cat” is the moment in a movie or book when a character reveals the reason we’ll love him—a small gesture that says, “Hey, reader. Great guy in here, waiting to be discovered. I may have just firebombed this empty house, but I saved Fluffy on my way out, so there’s proof.”

Sometimes, saving the cat can be more subtle…when we first meet Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary, he’s snooty, superior and bored…but he’s also clad in the ridiculous reindeer sweater his mom gave him, and he’s wearing it to make her happy.

Aw! Come on! I’m helpless for that kind of thing. In fact, my own sainted husband saved the cat for me on our first date—he may have been a Bono-lookalike with his green eyes and black hair, and yes, he was the king of cool (back then, anyway), wearing his leather jacket…but he held the door for me, even if he was an Irish thug. And you know what? He had actually saved a cat…back then, McIrish lived in a grimy part of Brooklyn. One night, there was a terrible thunderstorm. He heard a small mew, looked around, saw a tiny, bedraggled kitten, opened the door and said, “If you come inside, you can be my cat.” I don’t know if McIrish was aware of the effect that story would have, but when he told it to me (on our very first date), I immediately started naming our children.

In my latest book, All I Ever Wanted, Ian McFarland is rather cold (it seems). He doesn’t seem to like the heroine at all (it seems). He’s better than the rest of us sloppy humans (it seems). But he saves the cat in the very scene, and hopefully, readers will pause and say… “Hey. That was kinda…sweet.”

So tell me—have you come across those little instances where the hero saves the cat in your favorite books or movies? Is it the heroine who rescues poor Fluffy? Has your honey ever flashed you a little cat-saving mojo? Do tell! I’ll send a signed copy of All I Ever Wanted to a commenter. Can’t wait to hear your stories!



Cindy Gerard said...

I love this post, Kristan! Love the entire 'save the cat' concept.
For me, it can be something as simple as a hero's smile that reassures the heroine when the whole world is tumbling down around them.
And wow - I'd have fallen for McIrish on his lost kitten story alone! And he's a fireman to boot? From Brooklyn? Be still my heart!!

kimmyl said...

Hi Kristan. I've got a black cat that is so spoiled he's worse than the kids. LOL
I've read a book where the hero saved the cat for the heroine but never the heroine saving the cat. Sounds like it would be interesting to see the heroine doing the saving.

lois greiman said...

Kristan, you hit the nail on the head. Tough devil-may-care heros who come through in the end. Gotta love 'em. Thanks for reminding me what it's all about.

Anonymous said...

My husband "saved the cat" on our first date as well. We went to an all night hot dog stand at around 2:00 am and a very inebriated man nearly knocked me down. My husband grabbed both of us to keep me from falling. When the guy apologized my husband said, "no problem everybody is allowed to be drunk just try not to bash anyone else over." I didn't think it was terribly sweet, but he could have been a total macho jerk about it and wasn't.

krisgils33 said...

I loved All I Ever Wanted. Ian was such an could tell he really did like Callie (who wouldn't, right??) even though he was far from showing it. I don't have any save the cat stories about my husband, but over the many, many years we've been together, he does little sweet things all the time.

Christine said...

He has "saved the cat" on several occasions. Mainly it's been our cat. She likes high places, like the ledge running across the kitchen, and sometimes she thinks her balance is a little too good. One time she was playing with a string that he was tossing up to her and she went too far over the side. He caught her, but had several deep gouges in his arms from her claws. Heh.

Love the giveaway! Thanks for doing it. :)

Helen Brenna said...

Fun to have you back, Kristan, and I love your post. Though I've heard of it, I haven't read Snyder's cat book. Makes so much sense.

My dh literally saved a cat - kitten actually - early on in our relationship. One of my bros invited him deer hunting, even though he wasn't a deer hunter, and not only didn't he kill a deer that weekend, he rescued a little kitten. Someone had tossed the poor little thing out of their truck at a gas station.

As Lois said, this is what it's all about!

Laney4 said...

Yes, I recall reading a book where the hero was a fireman who went back in to get the heroine's cat, and he got hurt in the process. The heroine kept visiting him and taking care of him during his recuperation process. The hero realized that she was living in her shop (as she no longer had a home), so he offered for her to stay in his home in the meantime.
Darned if I can remember the author or book title, though. My apologies. I have read 250+ books every year since the seventies, and I just don't remember....

Aik said...

I remembered my father saved a kitten from drowning in a river once.

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Julie said...

Love love love this post. I live for those "awww" moments, and the story of your husband and the kitten made me melt. :)

My cousin runs a pet store, and rescues strays from the streets. I'm often over at his house, petting everything in sight.

Kristan Higgins said...

Hello, guys! So nice to be back with you again! I love hearing those sweet stories, too! Sigh!

donnas said...

Aww what a great story. I would have melted on the spot.

I love those scenes in books, where your tough guy hero all of a sudden shows his sensitive side and does even something as little as a small or a touch that just means more than he could possibly sat at that moment.

TinaFerraro said...

Kristan, after meeting you and being introduced to your books at RWA National this year, I am now in the process of buying and reading all your books. I adore your voice, your characters, and yes, those "save the cat" moments.

I am a self-professed cat lady, but my husband, left to his own devices, would not have had any pets. But he's been very supportive all these years when I've taken in lost kittens and started feeding feral strays, which for me is as good as stepping up to "save the cat" himself!

Linda said...

I always went for the really bad boys, kind of an instint thing. You could turn me loose in a room with 100 men in it, 99 of them would save the cat, but I'd bee line it straight to Omar Khadaffi sitting in the corner. You know, the guy who would want to shoot the cats mating outside the bedroom window. I don't know if I have finally outgrown that phase or if I just have given up on men altogether. I'd rather have a cat!

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Kristan. I enjoyed All I Ever Wanted and love heroes who save the cat (in real life or fiction). In one story, I have a hero who spends the first half of the book acting pretty like the villain. Only...animals and children adore. They practically follow him around, and he's always patient with them.

I real life I judge a man by how he treats/talks about his mother, the wait staff and children. I've yet to be wrong.

catslady said...

This sounds like the book for me :) Actually I help ferals/strays and would never have done it on my own. It was my husband who first said, let it in. And each time he has said it first. I always am afraid the next cat will be the last straw but since we've had 7 at one time and cared and fixed and found homes for so many more I am pretty sure that day will never come :)

Jayshree said...

Hi, Kristan - not a "save the cat" but a guy friend (I call him the MVP) was telling a little story about how he had helped his friend Dave move. Dave had roommates - big, beefy football-player types, who happened to be drunk at the time - and they warned the MVP and Dave against taking stuff that didn't belong to Dave. When the MVP told us this story, he admitted these guys really scared him and he wasn't going to engage them in any type of fight. Normally he's a macho guy - motorcyclist, good at fixing cars or really anything - but that little admission of vulnerability really made me fall for him. He was my first love after that! (so this was a long time ago) Things didn't work out, but I always remember how I wasn't really attracted to him until he told that story.

A different story, I heard on PRI (Public Radio International) there was a young Afghani-American man (I think 19 or 20, so I call him a kid) from L.A., he went to Afghanistan and did an audio-blog about his time there, he translated for American troops who were doing reconnaissance and some "intelligence gathering." The kid talked about his uncle who was this hard-core afghan rebel army type, sympathetic to the Americans so an outcast of the government. One night when they were all in some cave in the middle of nowhere, his uncle had found a kitten and he was taking care of it and cuddling it. The kid thought it was such a contrast, this strong, macho type cuddling a kitten and talking baby-talk to it. Reminds me that even though countries might be at war, individuals are still so similar everywhere. Cheers!


RhondaL said...

Save the Cat is a fanTAStic writing book. I love it, love it, love it.

Ya know - before I even knew there was a term for that kind of characterization, I called it "pet the puppy." Weird, huh? :)

Always delightful to see Atticus again ... thanks, Kristan.

Sheree said...

Hi, Kristan! I love the fact that your covers have a dog or cat on them as well as in the story (although I like the dog ones better - "Just One of the Guys" is my favorite). As I'm allergic to cats and dogs, I don't have either right now (although I'm more of a dog person). My boyfriend is more inclined toward cats and usually has one except now since I'm allergic.

In "Back in Black" by Lori Foster, Audrey showed her love for Brett by saving his cat from an apartment fire. That was pretty aw-worthy.


kaisquared said...

Love the "festive holiday jumper" on Mr. Darcy! My hubby of almost 25 years has shown his cat-saving side so many times that I cannot think of just one incident, but in books and movies I always have a soft spot for the supposedly hard-boiled macho man with the heart of gold, like Clark Gable in It Happened One Night.

Kristan Higgins said...

It's the bad boys who save the cat that get me...I've been watching Friday Night Lights recently; Tim Riggins, the baddest of bad boys, befriends the chatty little boy next door. Come on! That's just unfairly appealing! We'd overlook a lot for that, Riggins!

Barbara E. said...

I read a story where one of the character's placed a cat in the tree so the hero would rescue it and she would have an excuse to talk to him. He saw her do it and rescued the cat anyway. I enjoyed that scene quite a bit.
I've never had any cat rescuing done for me, but I did take in a stray and find a place for her at the shelter where I volunteered, so I did a bit of rescuing myself.

Anonymous said...

Ah - I just started reading your book Just One Of The Guys and now you're on one of my favorite author's blogs? Crazy, crazy! =)

Any guy that is an animal lover, willing to take a stand for cats or dogs, gets a cookie for me! Still loooking for my special someone, but my dad is the current hero in my life. Just last week he rescued my cat from the neighbor's roof (not our roof this time!) in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm... what can I possibly say? My special someone has some BIG shoes to fill! :D


Paula R said...

Hey Kristan, just dropping by to show some love. Don't count me in for the contest ladies.

I loved Ian McFarland. He was just soooooooo sweet. My fave save the cat scene was the save the "turkey" scene. It was hilarious!!! I loved him in that moment. There are many moments like this. I read too many books to just pick out one "save the cat" moment.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Kristan Higgins said...

Well, I just loved hearing your stories of kitty rescue and the like!

Patterson1219, since you really put a lump in my throat with the image of your dear old dad on the roof, you are the winner of a signed copy of ALL I EVER WANTED! Send me your snail mail addy, and I'll pop one in the mail this week.

Thanks to Cindy and the other gorgeous and talented women on this blog! I always have such a nice time here.


Monie said...

I love heros like that!

For me it's how they relate to babies and little kids that melt me! My hubby was always the pied piper. He was the one out playing with the kids and later one of the few dads that were spending time with thier kids instead of hanging with the guys. I did good!

Monica VanBeekum

Joanne Kennedy said...

My husband never had to save the cat, but the first time I met him he came into the bookstore where I was working and ordered a totally girlie Oprah book - and he'd read a bunch of them already. Gotta love that! And then he saved ME:)

I have to tell you, I loved "All I Ever Wanted" - it's high on my list of favorite romances. I really identified with Callie, and loved Ian. Thanks for the great read!

Kathleen O said...

I don't think any one I have ever had a relationship with saved a cat. But I know a lot of fireman, friends they are... that have saved a few animals..

I must say of all your books, which i loved by the way, but All I Ever Wanted has to be my fav of the bunch. I loved the openning scene in the DMV...I could just imagine that happening.. it was so real.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Kristan, I'd like to thank you for your wonderful website and blog! I'm a relatively new fan. I recently switched from screenwriting to novel writing, and when I pitched my story idea at a writer's conference a few weeks ago, Janet Reid recommended your books to me. I'm only a few chapters in to AIEW, but I love it!

As for cat-saving, your post really struck a nerve with me. I worked with Blake a while back, and he lived those STC principles.

Anyway, my reply was so long that it bounced back. It would take about eight posts for me to comment here, which didn't really seem right or fair.

I blogged it instead. I hope you read it, but I understand if you don't.