Swarm’s Inspiration

The five cats at the heart of Swarm: Metamorphosis were patterned after five animals who share my wife’s and my home. We rescued them as kittens, and like their fictional counterparts, they are inseparable and often act as if of a single mind. The idea for Swarm originated in a dream in which my five cats joined their bodies to become an animal with a tiger’s size and temperament. Although dreams generally fade from memory after a few days, this one lingered in my mind and became the germ of my novel.

Swarm’s real-life counterparts (left to right): Chessie, Greystoke, Audrey, Spike, and Elizabeth

In writing the book, I was drawn to the challenge of portraying realistic animals (no talking cats, no supernatural beings hiding in feline form) as characters with their own goals and ways of interacting with the world. I drew on a range of disciplines and literary techniques to integrate their non-narrative streams of consciousness into the book’s narrative structure. These include psychological studies of animal and human cognition, the example and discipline of imagist poetry, the use of musical harmony as a metaphor for animal (and human) streams of consciousness, and years of observations of Swarm’s real-life counterparts.

I am pleased with the outcome and find that writing Swarm: Metamorphosis has shown me that the gap between human and animal consciousness is nowhere near as great as we are led to believe. I hope it will do the same for you.

“I’ve watched humans for millennia: endless repetitions of the same passions, the same self-satisfied pieties—the same greed. Humans no longer surprise me, but sometimes, nature does.” [Circe] bit into the pear and chewed thoughtfully.

“Your animals are unique, five ordinary cats who share the mind—and sometimes the body—of one great predator. They have opened a new door into the heart of creation; their future must be allowed to unfold.”

Circe telling Astrid of her interest in Swarm

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