Icy Stone Blackstone’s inspiration for Gypsy Charm

Please welcome Icy Snow Blackstone to Barbara Edwards Comments. Tell your readers why you wrote Gypsy Charm.
My inspiration for my novelette Gypsy Charm was my cat Thibault Minuet. I wanted to do a story about a cat but couldn’t figure out how to get started, so I watched my feline domestic companion for clues on how to begin. He wasn’t much help; all he did was lounge around on the window sills, or saunter silently through the house in that languid,
miniature panther stalk, while I talked to him about anything and everything as I went about my work. Somehow, through my “conversations with Thibault,” I realized how Gypsy Charm should begin…with a girl talking to her cat.
I would write a story about this young lady and her cat, a black cat, who was
companionable and lovable, and too human when it came to his mistress. I’d have her talk to him as people do their pets, but he’d understand, really understand, and in his own catly way, be determined to protect his owner from everyone, even herself. Why did he do this? Not because he was simply a loyal pet, though he’s definitely that, but because he’s under a spell and protecting Lisa is part of the way he will free himself.
After that, it was easy. Tomas the cat took on a furry, heroic shape. The gypsy brothers and their grandmother, and Lisa and her roommate began to emerge as real people. It was fun creating these characters and telling the story of Lisa’s adventure with the gypsies. As for the gypsy charm? There are two in the story…the one Mrs. Gray gives Lisa in
payment for her kindness, and the one placed upon Tomas for being such as a smarty cat.
Blurb: Gypsy Charm is the tale of Lisa Carpenter’s encounter with an old gypsy woman,
the giving of a wish charm, and a black cat. Unknown to our heroine, the cat has an
agenda all his own, and unknown to either of them, so does the old gypsy woman.
“These my grandsons. Isaac—” Mrs. Lee nodded at the first one as he
straightened. “—and David.”
David’s movements were so smooth and sleek Lisa was reminded of a leopard
stalking across a jungle glade. A glossy, golden-coated leopard, slinking low to the
ground. That thought sent a quiver through her. He held out a large but well-shaped
hand, saying grudgingly, “H’lo.”
“Hi.” She nodded at Isaac, shook the hand David offered her. He squeezed it a
moment, grip very warm as it tightened gently before he released it. Lisa took a slow,
deep breath. The tips of her fingers tingled. She shook them slightly.
“And…” Mrs. Lee was still talking. “…Tomas.” She looked around. “Where’s
Tomas? Tomasso!”
  • Two pointed ears and a small head covered in short silky fur peeped from under
    the sofa’s valance. A black cat emerged, stretched, and leaped onto the arm of the sofa
    with incredible grace and an inquisitive yowl.
    “This Tomas.” Mrs. Lee waved an introductory hand. “My machka.
    The cat poised itself on the armrest, leaning toward Lisa, gold-green eyes
    regarding her gravely. His right paw came up.
    “Oh, he’s beautiful!” Lisa placed her hand under the cat’s paw. It was soft,
    smooth and as warm as David’s hand had been. It pressed briefly against her fingers,
    claws grazing gently before it withdrew. With a second, softer yowl, Tomas leaped from
    the arm and settled himself in her lap. He blinked and regarded Lisa solemnly.
    “You like cats?” Mrs. Lee asked.
    “I love them,” Lisa assured her. “And this one is so…so…”
    “Ain’t he, though?” David muttered. Lisa wondered if he ever spoke in anything other than a low growl.
    “He likes to think he’s really macho,” Isaac laughed. “A real ladies’ man…uh, cat.” He flicked a finger at the cat’s ears. Tomas dodged, cocking his head to look at Isaac. “Right, Tomasso?”
    “I’d have to agree,” Lisa answered, reaching out and stroking the furry head.
    Tomas pushed against her hand. “He’s a very handsome dude.”
    David smiled and the two brothers looked at each other. They seemed to be
    sharing a private joke, which Tomas didn’t appear to appreciate. Growling softly, he bestowed a surprising glare upon the two.
    Suddenly, they all seemed to be staring at her. Even the cat. Four pairs of eyes riveted on Lisa. Waiting for her to drink her tea.
    Lisa began to feel uneasy. A startling panic twisted in her stomach as she realized she was alone in a van with three strangers, two of whom were very large and muscular and standing between her and the door. And Mrs. Lee— She might be old but that walking stick of hers could be a very deadly weapon.
    Was this a mistake? Undoubtedly. People were always saying she was too
    friendly for her own good.
    All together, they smiled. Tomas purred loudly, claws kneading at her thighs.
    “Well! Since you’re safe and sound now—” Putting down the cup, Lisa set the cat aside and stood up. For a moment, his claws clung to her skirt. Hoping she didn’t sound frightened and certain she failed, she extricated Tomas, grimacing slightly at the single snag his claws made in her new skirt, then shot a pretend glance at her watch as she went on, “Guess I’d better be on my way. I’ve people waiting for me and they’ll be
    Liar. Her housemate wouldn’t be home for another two hours.
    She aimed herself for the door behind the two young men. Neither moved. The twisting inside grew tighter. Lisa stopped.
    “Isaac,” Mrs. Lee called softly, and gestured.
    He took a step forward, raising one arm.
    Lisa stumbled backward, her own raised, preparing to ward off a blow, then
    realized he was holding out his left arm to his grandmother. Around his wrist was a small gold chain with tiny disks dangling from it.
  • “Here.” With a twist of her fingers, Mrs. Lee pulled one disk free. She held it out to Lisa. “You take. For helping me.”
    “I couldn’t—”
    “You take. Otherwise I owe you.” Taking Lisa’s hand, she placed the object on her palm, closing her fingers around it. “Is wish-charm.”
    “Wish-charm? What’s that?” It looked like a small gold coin but the
    inscription… She’d never seen symbols like those before. Are they Romanes?
    “Good for one special wish. Baksheesh. You keep safe. Use carefully. Don’t
    waste on pepperoni pizza!” Mrs. Lee shook her finger and laughed.
    “I won’t.” Lisa laughed, too, her fear disappearing. “I promise.” She studied the charm, feeling a strange gratitude. “It’s beautiful. Thank you, Mrs. Lee.”
    This time when she turned toward the door, Isaac and David moved aside. In a moment, she was outside, down the makeshift steps and at her car. When Lisa climbed into the Civic, and waved, they raised their hands and waved back.
    As the car drove away, however, Mrs. Lee said, “A good girl, but too trusting. She needs protector.”
    “She’s pretty. I like her.” David straightened, adding “For a gaje, I mean.” He and Isaac glanced at each other and then at their Grandmother. “So, Gram, which one of us will it be?”
    She looked at Tomas.
    “Oh, Gram, no.” The protest was half-hearted, as if he knew it was no use to argue.
    The cat was crouching on the sofa. He looked at Mrs. Lee and then at the door through which Lisa had gone, tail twitching angrily. He shook his head as if seconding David’s protest.
    “You heard me,” Mrs. Lee said. Tomas transferred his gaze back to her. He
    didn’t move. “Go!”
    “You heard Gram,” Isaac prompted.
    Tomas stayed there a moment longer, giving a single grrrwl of protest before leaping to the floor. David pushed the door open and Tomas leaped out. Isaac came to stand beside his brother. “Good luck, Bro. I mean it.”
    The cat looked in the direction the car had vanished. After a moment’s hesitation, he threw a strident yowl back at the two men standing in the door before starting down the street with a graceful, long-legged lope.
    They waited until his small figure disappeared around the bend in the road before going back inside.
    “Still don’t see why Tomas gets to have all the fun,” David grumbled.
    “You call that fun?” Issac elbowed his brother in the ribs. “Would you like to change places with him?”
    “What do you think?”
    “I think you’d better shut up.” Isaac pulled the camper door shut and locked it.

    Buy Links:

    Paperback exclusively from the publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/cat
    Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-CharmIcy-Snow-Blackstone
    About the Author:
    Icy Snow Blackstone was born in 1802, in northern Georgia where her father, the Reverend John Blackstone, was prominent in local politics. She married a minister, raised seven children, and lived there all her life.
    Two hundred and five years later, her great-great-great-great-granddaughter began using her name as a pseudonym for her romance novels. The present Icy Snow Blackstone (aka author Toni V. Sweeney) lives far from her Southern roots in Lancaster County,
    Nebraska, where she continues to write romances.
    As of 2017, Icy Snow has eleven novels published by Class Act Books. Her
    contemporary romance, Tuesday’s Child, was given the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice award for Best Contemporary Novel of 2014. A SciFi romance,
    Earthman’s Bride and Vietnam-era romance Jericho Road, have also received awards.
    She is also the author of Jericho Road, Bargain with Lucifer, Brother Devil, and Gypsy
    Charm, romances all set in the South, as well as the paranormal romance The Irish
    Lady’s Spanish Lover.
    Learn More about Icy Snow at: http://www.classactbooks.com/our-
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