You are herePubhistory_0 / Pubhistory_6
Courage could also help answer another question often asked by readers. What happened to Thistle-chaser's brothers, the other cubs in Ratha's litter by Bonechewer? It was time to return one to the stage.
But he had to be unusual in some respects, not just a male version of Thistle, or a re-run of Bonechewer. When I was researching mutant and hybrid big cats on the net, I ran into a description of a cobweb panther, (there is also a photo here) which is a black leopard with white markings so faint that the cat appears draped with spiderwebs. The white also tends to appear and disappear in the fur as the animal moves. Voila! I had the idea for Night-who-eats-stars.
The various threads began to weave themselves together. Ratha needed an interesting disaster in order to test her mettle. Who would cause the disaster? True-of-voice's people. Why would it happen? Because Ratha, in following her best intentions, set off a cascade of events that killed many of the face-tail hunters. What was the agent of that catastrophe? The Red Tongue, Ratha's own creature.
Then came another idea. I didn't want True-of-voice's people to attack the Named because they were angry about the deaths. They are not conscious in the way that the Named are, and would not react in that way. I wanted a more "biologically-based" reason. Suppose the face-tail hunters who died were all females? An imbalance in the number of males to females among lions causes fighting over who gets to mate, and often the exile of younger and/or weaker males. Suppose a group of younger males split off from True-of-voice's group with their own leader. Where would they get mates? By capturing Named females, including Ratha herself.
For one of the climax scenes, I used a cheetah behavior, namely the "courting circle" where a female is courted by a group of males. I enlarged and intensified it to include more than one female and a large group of males. Ratha, her daughter Thistle-chaser and her friends Bira, Fessran and others prowled uneasily in the midst of a crowd of yowling eager males. Tense, exciting, unusual, dangerous! It worked.