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SALLY M. KEEHN says that Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen began with her cat Scottie, who inspired the character of the Swamp Cat. The story also had its beginnings in an old Scottish folk ballad, Tam Lin. Ms. Keehn took the story behind the ballad and set it in the Smoky Mountains of Eastern, Tennessee, where she felt there could be cats that talk, evil Swamp Queens, and girls like Gnat Stokes who fall in love with someone they’re not supposed to.
Although much of her heart remains in the Smokies, Ms. Keehn lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with her husband, David, and a number of animals who inspire her, including three cats and a sweet little dog named Sophie.