Friday, May 17, 2013

The Furry Inspiration Behind Kiwi in Cat City, By Vickie Johnstone




The furry inspiration behind Kiwi in Cat City
By Vickie Johnstone

Most of my books are for children; middle-grade, especially. I didn’t set out to write books for kids – it just happened. The first proper book I ever finished was Kiwi in Cat City, in 2002. I had been made redundant and suddenly had a lot of time on my hands.
The book was inspired by a little black, fluffy, golden-eyed, chubby cat that I used to have, called Kiwi. She was cheeky, intelligent, curious, and liked to follow me down the road on the way to work – I’d have to scoop her up, take her back and run off! I’m sure she’d have hopped on the train with me if she could. Kiwi liked to chase shadows on walls, munch Whiskers food, roll on her back with her paws in the air for strokes, and hunt birds (alas, she was very good, and it was the only thing we argued about). When she wasn’t trying to swipe the dinner off my plate when I wasn’t looking or jumping in the air to catch a moth in mid-flight, she’d be curled up on my bed or waiting to pouncing out at me. One day she followed me to the supermarket round the corner, waited patiently on a wall, and then came back home with me.
Kiwi was lovely, but I lost her in 2000, when she was six, which is no age really. I started to really hate cars.
When she was still alive, I wrote a poem about her. In 2002, during this time between jobs, I reread it and started thinking about a world populated by cats. I’d lie in bed at night, imagining it. They ran their own lives and did their own thing. I named this world Cat City, where cats roamed free and happy, away from the dangers posed by cars and dogs, and where it was always summer. The star would be Kiwi. I would bring her back to life on paper and make her go on adventures. In Kiwi in Cat City, she is four, and she is ‘owned’ by Amy and James, and their parents, in the human world. I ended up making Amy a bit like me, although I named her after my niece. James was just my favourite boy’s name.
Gradually, other characters started talking and a catnapping plot emerged. I was writing by the seat of my pants, as I had no idea where the book was going, but I was also having a lot of fun. I wrote every day. Kiwi became magical and able to communicate with the kids, whom she turned into kittens and took on an adventure to her other home – the blue-lit Cat City. Soon other characters evolved – Siam, a computer whizz with bent whiskers, Inspector Furrball, a ginger tom with a very red waistcoat, and Kip, a good friend of Kiwi’s, among others. Plus there had to be a bad cat and a few red herrings.
As a kid, my favourite books all starred animals: Winnie-the-Pooh, Narnia, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Ugly Duckling, The Three Bears, The Incredible Journey, Pigling Bland and Watership Down; a little later, the It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet series, Call of the Wild and Animal Farm. And these are just a few that I can think of! Human characters just didn’t get a look in. To me, they weren’t as interesting as animals, especially ones that could talk. If a book didn’t star some furry hero, it had to contain magic, such as The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty and the Folk of the Faraway Tree, though the latter did have a squirrel! Magic AND talking animals – now that was the ideal!
So, back to Kiwi in Cat City... In a few weeks I finished writing it. I’d had so much fun that I surprised myself, and I’d managed to write every day. But the big thing was that I’d actually completed a book; a whole book. I hadn’t finished a story since I was at senior school. I remember having this big feeling of accomplishment. And I was very happy because my little Kiwi had become immortal.
It would be another nine years until the story saw the light of day and was read by someone other than myself, but that’s another story. Today, my little Kiwi is the heroine of her own series, the Kiwi Series, of which there are now six books, and never a finer heroine could there be. Long may she purr!

Kiwi in Cat City

Book blurb:

Have you ever wished your cat could talk or wondered where he/she goes when you are not around? Kiwi in Cat City is the first book in a series, of which there are six fun adventures so far. They are set in vario
us animal-inhabited worlds, along with the human one, of course.

Kiwi seems like a typical moggie, content to nap in the sun and chase shadows, but she has a secret. She is a magical cat from a place called Cat City. With her two humans, James and Amy, Kiwi finds mysteries and adventures, dealing with catnappings, jewel thieves, giant rats, time travel, haunted houses, Father Christmas, pyramids and more. The fun stories contain positive messages about loyalty, friendship, honesty, bullying and the power of standing together.

Kiwi in Cat City opens on one dark night. Amy cannot sleep and she looks out of the window into the garden to see her cat, Kiwi, transfixed by the moon, which is glowing brightly like a cat's claw. Waking her brother, James, Amy suggests they follow Kiwi to see where she goes... whether it involves a hunt for mice or something else. Little do they know that with a flick of her tail, Kiwi is going to magically change the children into kittens and lead them on the adventure of their lives to a land they never knew existed in their wildest dreams. In the blue-lit world of Cat City, the budding detectives help Inspector Furrball to investigate the mysterious catnapping of Mr Katz and find out what happened to Madame Purrfect.
The books contain illustrations by the talented Nikki McBroom. Furry fun for ages 9-99.

Author bio:

Vickie Johnstone lives in London, UK, where she works as a freelance layout sub-editor on magazines and as an editor on indie books. She has a thing about fluffy cats and also loves reading, writing, films, the sea, rock music, art, nature, Milky Bar, Baileys and travelling. If sleeping was an Olympic sport, she’d be a contender. Vickie has self-published the following books: Kaleidoscope (poetry); Travelling Light (poetry); Life’s Rhythms (haiku); 3 Heads and a Tail (comedy romance); Kiwi in Cat City (magical cat series for middle grade readers); Kiwi and the Missing Magic; Kiwi and the Living Nightmare; Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle; Kiwi in the Realm of Ra; Kiwi’s Christmas Tail; Day of the Living Pizza (comedy detective series for middle grade readers), and Day of the Pesky Shadow. Vickie is currently working on a fantasy with a female central character called The Sea Inside.

Author links:

Blog: http://vickiejohnstone.blogspot.com
Twitter: @vickiejohnstone
Website: Kiwiincatcity.com
FB author page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorVickieJohnstone
FB Kiwi Series page: http://www.facebook.com/KiwiinCatCity
FB poetry page: http://www.facebook.com/KaleidoscopePoetry
FB editing service page: http://www.facebook.com/VickieJohnstoneEditing

Book links:

Ebook price: $2.99/£1.99
Paperback price: $7.50/£4.86








2 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me!
    Purrs!
    Have a lovely day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're very welcome! Lots of luck with Kiwi! :)

    ReplyDelete