"Purr Like an Egyptian": Inspiration from Daphne Du Maurier and Ancient Egypt

Have I mentioned that my cats-taking-over-Memphis story "Purr Like an Egyptian" will be in Grumpy Old Gods Volume 2? It's open for Pre-orders now and will publish on August 9! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VJZVM5C

This was the first short story I’d written since…high school? Junior high? I just heard about the submission prompt and I was instantly captivated; I HAD to write a story for it.



We’re looking for stories about mythical Gods who are waning, reborn, retired, or otherwise AWOL from their assigned post.

We invite you to re-imagine old myths, mine your local retirement home for things that tickle your fancy, and invite your Muse to go wild.  The only requirement is that the god or goddess in question (or whole pantheon if you so choose) must be retired, retiring, waning in power, or ignoring their responsibilities. Bonus points for good humor.

I mean, how amazing is that? I came up with the idea to use Bastet, the Egyptian Goddess of cats, pretty easily, and I knew I wanted her to run a cat cafe. The idea of all the cats migrating to Memphis to be near her developed more slowly over time.

Once I did get that idea though, I knew I wanted to look to Daphne DuMaurier’s The Birds, which has a similar premise, only much more frightening. I tried to get across a similar, but more modern, depiction of animals taking over a town. In addition, my intro was a direct homage to the story’s beginning.

The Birds:

On December the third, the wind changed overnight, and it was winter. Until then the autumn had been mellow, soft. The leaves had lingered on the trees, golden-red, and the hedgerows were still green. The earth was rich where the plow had turned it.

Purr Like an Egyptian:

On March 10th, Tennessee finally realized it was spring and the temperature rose 20 degrees. Everywhere in town smelled damp, like fresh sod, green and expectant.

So my opening is a bit more folksy to bring across the humor of the piece, but you get the idea.

I also specifically picked out names for everyone in the story that had an extra layer of meaning for anyone who bothered to look into it. In the story, Bastet’s human form goes by Nenet Elmasry. Nenet means “divine, spiritual,” and “Elmasry” literally means “The Egyptian.” Her husband, Sef, is the human form of Ptah, the god of craftsmen. His physical description matches Ptah’s - hairless and wearing a skull cap. “Sef” literally means “yesterday.”

I also used to have a cat character named Aten who was intended to represent the divine cat aspect of Ra, who was strongly associated with Bastet, but I ended up cutting him out during the editing process. We just didn’t need another cat around, particularly one with more of an obscure origin. Aten means “sun,” which referenced Ra as the sun god.