Background Story & Research
The Pepper Masalah series was inspired by some of my previous cats. Q was a very intelligent tuxedo cat and he could collect things like hairpins, bread ties and paper clips. He put them in his food bowl. He could also open certain doors. He would look at me as if he were telling me something interesting.
Harry was a a huge black farm cat with green eyes and a beautiful disposition. He was very easy going and loving. He was too big for my lap but spread out over the couch with his head in my lap. However, after a freak storm one night he disappeared and so far hasn't returned. I read many stories about lost cats returning. One cat was returned after 16 years. He had run out of the house as a kitten but was microchipped and finally a vet found the chip.
I started thinking up a story about what could happen to a cat when they were away from home? What adventures could he have? I needed a good name for such a cat and my youngest daughter helped me think of one: Pepper Masalah.
For the first time in my life I bought a cat: a beautiful black British shorthair kitten with apricot eyes. I named him Pepper Masalah. I took him to visit schools if it was a short visit. He walked on a lead. He never went outside by himself but we built an enclosure for him. There were snakes in our yard since we live in a little paddock in the middle of someone's farm. They don't bother us, but cats will bother them and get bitten. Q got bitten once but he survived after I raced him to the vet.
Pepper Masalah knew he was a prince. His purr was like a comforting generator. I'd wake up with him purring on my pillow. Purring is a beautiful and peaceful way to wake.
He also loved carpets and slept on one I'd bought in Pakistan, by the fire in the winter and under the fan in the summer. It wasn't long before I put cat and carpet together. I had written a historical fantasy set in Mughal India in 1661 and had done a lot of research on flying carpets.
Then I wrote the first story: Pepper Masalah and the Flying carpet. A story about a cat and a carpet which I longed to do since I was six years old.
What do you think it would be like flying on a carpet? Where would you go? What could happen? Who could go with
you? Write or draw.