A Review of Familiarity: A Winston and Ruby Collection by Kristine Kathryn Rusch #fantasy #cats #familiars

Winston: A kind and quiet wizard possessed of small magic.
Ruby: A familiar with a big mouth and even bigger heart.

My Review: Winston lives in a small town on the Oregon coast along Highway 101. He runs a small curiosity shop catering to the tourists. The locals know him as "that crazy guy with the cat." The locals do not visit his shop, which makes little money. His real line is a mail order business. He ships potions on a weekly basis all over the United States, Canada, and Europe. He's not rich but it is a living. He has a small magic. And the shop gives him somewhere to go every day, a reason to leave his cottage.

Winston's magic would be nothing without his familiar. He works best with cats and they choose him. (If you live with cats, this won't surprise you.) His familiars also have a lot of attitude and have no problem expressing their opinions and desires in perfect English.

Winston wants to live a quiet life somewhere below the radar and tinker with his potions in the workshop in the back of his store. He used to live in San Francisco but an unpleasant misunderstanding required him to leave quickly. He wants nothing more than to avoid trouble but trouble wanders into his shop on a regular basis.

Familiarity collects five Winston and Ruby stories. “Familiar Territory” tells the tale of how Ruby came to live with Winston and the death of Buster, Winston's former familiar. Buster leaves some odd instructions for his funeral and his spirit sails off in a blaze of glory, literally. In “Saving Face” Winston and Ruby work with a local detective to track down a killer when a woman who visits Winston's shop turns up dead. In “Searching for the Familiar” Winston hears rumors that familiars are going missing and when the rumors become a reality for Ruby, Winston is frantic to find her. “Disaster Relief” tells the story of Ruby's attempt at altruism. She convinces Winston to open their cottage to the magic users and familiars displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In “Un-Familiar” Ruby teams up with a toy poodle-Chihuahua mix. Ruby usually has nothing to do with dogs and she won't tell Winston what's up with the poodle-Chihuahua.

If you love fantasy and you love cats, Familiarity was written for you. The characters are truly charming. My only disappointment is that the collection comes to an end and as far as I know, there aren't any more Winston and Ruby stories.


Why I Wrote Interstellar Dad

Ever since my days of playing Sims 2, I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of aliens visiting us. If you’re at all familiar with the Sims franchise, you know that there is on occasion this chance encounter with aliens, some of whom could very well make your adult male Sims pregnant. It is through this very concept where the idea for my science fiction series, Interstellar Dad, was born. But there are other reasons why I wrote for this universe.

The most important reason of them all is simply this: fertility. Impotence.

When I wrote the first book in what has now evolved into a four-book series (so far), I was coming to terms with the fact that I would probably never be able to pass on my genetic information to offspring. There were some feelings of despair and inadequacy back then, of course.

Then I got to writing about my main character, Andrew Skyes. To him I gave him the desire of wanting to be a dad, just like my own desire. Only, I’d given him a plot twist. I let him encounter aliens in a way not unlike what went down in the Sims franchise. Before Andrew knew it, his life as the Interstellar Dad had finally begun.

Ultimately, I wanted to share with my readers the emotion of hope, of possibility. That sometimes the dream might’ve taken on a different version of itself, but that it was important to continue the chase.

Which I did.

Has your dream ever changed? If so, did you still pursue it?

The four books in the Interstellar Dad series are Interstellar Dad, The Battle at Stellar Daycare, Mass Reproduction, and Impostor Care. I also write fantasy and horror novels too, the latter being the genre of my thirteenth book, Fool’s Blood, currently in the editing phase.