Author(s): Helen Brown
Helen Brown wasn't a cat person, but her nine-year-old son Sam was. So when Sam heard a woman telling his mum that her cat had just had kittens, he pleaded to go and see them. Helen's heart melted as Sam held one of the kittens in his hands, with a look of total adoration. In a trice the deal was done - the kitten would be delivered when she was big enough to leave her mother. A week later, Sam was dead. Not long after, a little black kitten was delivered to the grieving family. Totally traumatised by Sam's death, Helen had forgotten all about the new arrival. She was ready to send the kitten back, but Sam's younger brother wanted to keep her. There was no choice: Cleo had to stay. Kitten or not, there seemed no hope of becoming a normal family. But Cleo's zest for life slowly taught the traumatised family to laugh. She went on to become the uppity high priestess of Helen's household, vetoing visitors (in an uncannily spot-on way), terrifying dogs and building a very special bond with her human servants (aka the family).
Helen Brown was born and brought up in New Zealand. After attending school in New Plymouth she studied journalism and became a cadet reporter with The Dominion. After meeting and marrying a Brit, Helen lived in England briefly before returning to New Zealand and having two sons, Sam and Rob. She became a popular columnist for The Dominion and her first book had recently been published when Sam was run over and killed. After the birth of her daughter, Lydia, Helen's marriage broke up and she moved to Auckland to work for the Auckland Star as a feature writer and columnist. Helen met and married Philip Gentry in 1991. Their family moved en masse to Melbourne in 1997, though Helen continues to write columns for the New Zealand media, where she's been voted Columnist of the Year several times.