After posting that Chapter Four draft here, I went back through Mauricio Antón’s Sabertooth. This time, I realized that he had written the sort of book about ancient cats that I want to write (although I am focusing on all cats): a very informative one that makes these beautiful animals come alive and shows how they lived and died during ancient terrestrial epochs that were sometimes quite tumultuous.
And I saw that I need to drastically change my focus for The First Cat.
M. Antón has the paleontological training and experience to write such a book (he is also a world-renowned paleoartist).
I do not have these qualifications. I can perform something of a literature review, because of my own undergraduate-level college education, but I cannot bring this subject to the reader as clearly, not to mention authoritatively, as scientists and other experienced specialists can.
Instead, I can bring readers to the subject.
Many laypeople who are attracted to a book like Sabertooth by the incredibly beautiful images will overlook much of the text, in spite of the author’s very accessible explanations of the basic points, because it is rooted in the world of paleontology, not in the day-to-day world of living cats which is all that most laypeople are familiar with. One does need some background – which I have only gained through researching my own project for many months – in order to fully appreciate this excellent book.
Does this mean that cat lovers who are curious about cat evolution must either be PhD’s or willing to struggle for information on their own through Web searches that yield either full-blown scientific research papers or information that is often outdated or of questionable accuracy?
Of course not. There is middle ground. It is inhabited by a potentially huge audience, curious about the evolution of cats and willing to read the words of any good writer who, as G. K. Chesterton once put it, dares to “[assert] the reasonable right of the amateur to do what he can with the facts which the specialists provide.”
We writers shouldn’t shun the task merely because it is difficult.
I’m going to reorganize what I have into a book about the first cats that a layperson can write and another layperson will find useful. I’m aiming for eBook publication in September or October of this year.
While working on this, I will leave online the flawed Chapter Four draft – it cost me much time and effort, after all, and it may be of use to somebody, if only as a bad example.
Thank you for your interest!
Disclosure: I have never met him, but via email through his blog, M. Antón has very kindly given me permission to use one of his images, that of a partial reconstruction of Styriofelis, in “The First Cat.”