Dr. Dean James distinctly remembers what he said the day his editor called. He may have set a record for consecutive OMGs - an understandable reaction from a writer who has just made it to the best-seller list of The New York Times.
That was five years ago, and it was only the beginning for the associate professor of academic information services, whose daytime job is in the Rowland Medical Library, and whose after-hours pen name is Miranda James, creator of the mystery series, "A Cat in the Stacks."
James, whose Ph.D. from Rice University is in medieval history and who speaks four languages - five, counting "feline" - also speaks to a large number of readers who wallow in the adventures of widowed librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine coon cat, Diesel.
"Miranda seems to have struck a chord, especially the cat," said James, a Grenada native who worked in Houston, Texas, for 33 years before joining UMMC seven months ago.
Cats are intimate with a genre that boasts Rita Mae Brown, famous for such works as "The Litter of the Law."
Unlike Brown's cat, Mrs. Murphy, Diesel is more of a companion than a gumshoe throughout his owner's exploits in amateur sleuthery, beginning with the first, "Murder Past Due" (Berkley Prime Crime).
"Diesel is sensitive to people's moods, though," said James, whose real-life companions are a female calico named Pippa, and Toby, a gray-and-white "big galoot of a cat."