By contract, I am required to supply my publisher with a photo for the back-of-the-book author shot. No problem. I e-mail my editor the photo I had professionally taken a few years ago and that I will probably still be using when I'm 90. It's lovely, she says, but given that this is a cat book, might I have some pictures of myself with my cats we could use?
I do not. Not only do our cats not cooperate in the picture-taken process, they actively sabotage it. Plus, Blair is not a photographer, which explains why I look wrinkled and shiny in our home photos and is, naturally, no reflection on my true beauty which the professional photographer managed to capture using only professional lighting, computer touch-ups, and make-up applied with an autographed Tammy Faye Baker shovel.
Anyway, I decide to use a stand-in cat. My friend (and former boss) Larry offered the model services of his stunning Maine Coon cat Bailey--17 lbs of big, fluffy fur and piercing green eyes. My friend Christopher Laney, who takes stunning photographs and has worked with animals, offered to get the shot.
Chris and I arrived at Larry's and immediately started plying Bailey with food. With a cat's instinct for knowing what a human needs/wants, Bailey chose to ignore us for the better part of an hour.
At one point, Bailey settled himself onto the floor and I slowly eased myself down onto the floor behind him, lying on my belly.
"That's great," said Chris, also on the floor and looking at us through his camera. "Now just kind of crawl toward me."
I inch forward. "Good, good," says Chris. "Now Larry, if you can just flick that feather toy back and forth over Dena's back..."
The idea was to get Bailey to look at me for the photo but between the "crawl toward me" and "flick the feather," all I could hear was smarmy bow-chicka-bow-wow music playing in my head. It took all my willpower not to burst out laughing.
I'm not sure if we ever got the money shot, but words can't express my appreciation for Chris, Larry, and Bailey making time for me in their busy schedules. I owe everyone a big tuna treat.