Many thanks to Lucy V Hay for tagging me in this Blog Hop, which consists of ten questions about my current project/s and then tagging other authors/writers. Here goes!

1. What is the working title of your next book?

I’m currently working on two cat-themed projects (just to further assert my growing mad-cat lady persona)! The first is an anthology of short stories called 9 Cat’s Eyes – An Anthology: 9 Lives and the second is a series of children’s stories which are (currently) collectively called The Adventures of Monty Cat.

2. Where did the idea come from for your book?

The anthology idea was my original cat-themed project idea. I wanted to write a set of short stories about cats and have each of them accompanied by a small illustration. When outlining the anthology, however, my ideas began to go wild (as they do) and I found myself planning quite a reflective collection of stories which mimicked adult stories but in a cat’s world.

The entire group of stories are now set on the same “street” – think BBC’s “The Street” drama series, but in feline form! The working title, 9 Cat’s Eyes, is a play on the fact that the stories are focussed on life from the viewpoint of 9 Cats’ eyes, and the term “cat’s eyes” which is defined both as a semi-precious stone with a band of bright lustre and a light-reflecting road stud marking the edge of a carriageway; both of which can metaphorically represent the stories if you want to think really deeply about it…

My illustrated stories are now taking the form of children’s stories, which will follow the adventures of a rescue cat. This will allow even more illustration and will hopefully help teach children about pet care as well as providing engaging adventure stories. A characterised version of my own cat Monty is taking the starring role, and he’s already getting used to pleasing the public via his very own Facebook page on which he currently promotes paw-made jewellery on charity eBay to raise money for Stray Cat Rescue, who looked after him before he came to live with me.

3. What genre does the book fall under?

9 Cat’s Eyes is an adult short story anthology, and The Adventures of Monty Cat are stories for children and adults alike to enjoy.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movies rendition?

If my stories were played out as animations, they’d have some distinctive voices. I like to imagine my Monty character having quite a posh yet soft voice. In real life he’s a big boy but has the sweetest meow, so perhaps somebody like Nigel Havers! The anthology has a lot of feline characters in it. One of which is a bolshy show cat who loves to think she’s above all others, so I’d imagine a strongly projected yet soothing voice like Bette Midler. There’s a younger female cat, too, who’s a bit of an excitable tomboy, so for a higher-pitched and characterful voice an actress like Sharon Rooney (doing her Lincolnshire accent) would be purrrfect. One of the cats is a loveable but chubby fellow, and I’d imagine him having quite an innocent yet nasally voice a bit like Sesame Street’s Ernie. Boy, it’s fun thinking up voices for your characters! I could do this all day!

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

9 Cat’s Eyes: The 9 interconnected lives of the feline residents of a street, set amidst a rapidly changing world.

The Adventures of Monty Cat: The adventures of an adopted temperamental ginger gentleman cat.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Currently, the plan is to self-publish both. I’d like to use the anthology as a first foray into formatting and packaging a self-published book. For the children’s stories, I’d like to collaborate with an illustrator or attempt to illustrate the stories myself. However, if I can find a suitable publisher for the illustrated books or the anthology, I’d certainly consider traditional publishing.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’m still writing them! Probably a while as I like to get feedback and make sure I’ve written the best I can. Illustrations take time too.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Not entirely sure… There aren’t many cat anthologies from the point of view of cats. The only book I can think of to compare to is Doris Lessing’s “On Cats”, the stories in which are described by a newspaper reviewer as “not really about cats at all, it’s about real characters” which is exactly what my book aims to do. It’s not really just about cats but integrates human perceptions, conditions and stories through their “eyes”.

It’s all a bit symbolic, really, and I hope to succeed in evoking the different connections humans have with cats, humans with humans and cats with each other, through my own imagination. I’m also hoping the stories will act as parts of a larger, overarching story, so they’ll be developed sequentially.

The illustrated children’s stories is even more difficult to compare. I would like it to appeal to both adults and children, as well as sustaining a series, so I suppose you could liken it to Inga Moore’s “Six Dinner Sid” books and Anne Fine’s “Killer Cat” series. I think I need to experiment and gain feedback before being able to answer this question properly, as I’m still researching the level of storytelling I can approach.

9. Who or what inspired you write this book?

My love for and my relationship with my cats Boots and Monty, but especially the latter whom we adopted in April 2012. He’s been a great companion since I’ve been working freelance, and I’ve gained so much respect for rescue centres and all that they do. I hadn’t realised quite what was “out there” and “going on” in the world of rescue animals, so it’s been an eye opener.

The anthology idea developed from a desire to examine the relationships people have with their pets, and to imagine a personified way of life that cats lead in which their issues and dramas aren’t so different to our own. This led me to think about how I could reflect and mix both the psychology of humans, and animals, into quite a meaningful series of stories.

The children’s stories were largely inspired by a walk one day. I knew I wanted to write stories about a cat, but wasn’t sure in what context. I also wanted to try my hand at illustrating my own cat, but didn’t hold out much hope of success as my art training was in fine art and sculpture, as opposed to illustration. Walking past a zoo, a story idea formed in my mind and I suddenly knew that children’s stories were the way to go. Oh, and I did try the illustration. You can see it here.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I’m hoping the fact that I’m attempting something really quite different with the anthology will intrigue both short story lovers and cat lovers, and I’m hoping my illustrated stories will provide joy and entertainment for kids young and old alike. We’ll see! I’m also actively trying to raise money for Stray Cat Rescue, so it’d be nice to see the books raising the popularity of “Monty’s Emporium Montorium”, Monty’s author page on Facebook.

Tagging for the next blog hop:

Penny Noble is a phycotherapist and writer who channels her canine companion to pen the Ted Terrier books, which offer explorations into the human, feline and canine inhabitants of a suburban home.

Andy Coughlan (@andycoughlan) is the director of Manicgrin Media and has just finished his first novel.

Dawn Chapman (@kanundra) is a screenwriter and novelist whose sci-fi novel is a precursor to one of her screenplays.


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