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Welcome Vickie Johnstone, Author of Kiwi in Cat City

May 21, 2013

Today I am happy to be interviewing my friend and talented writer from across the pond, Vickie Johnstone. Thank you for joining me today, Vickie! Welcome!

Can you give a one sentence synopsis of your novel Kiwi in Cat City:

Magical feline Kiwi takes her human pals, Amy and James, on an adventure to Cat City, where they help Inspector Furrball to investigate a mysterious catnapping.

Vickie Kiwi in cat city illust

That sounds interesting! What makes your writing unique?

I don’t know. I like including animals in my stories, so although 3 Heads & a Tail is a comedy romance about two guys and a girl, there is also a very opinionated dog in it. He swears a lot. That one isn’t for youngsters, although most of my books are, such as the Kiwi Series and the Day of comedies. I like writing for young readers. I really enjoy just letting my imagination go and trying to think up what a youngster might enjoy. I try to write something different and unique, but I’m not sure if I manage it! I guess the walking pizza dude zombie might not have been done before!

You write a lot for children. What are your favourite children’s books?

I was a 70s kid. I love Roald Dahl. My favourite book is Fantastic Mr Fox. I think it is perfect and I love his sense of humour. I read that it is also his favourite as he felt everything was in the right place. I also really liked Hans Christian Anderson’s stories, especially The Little Mermaid. Other favourites were The Folk of the Faraway Tree (I even tried to find this tree!) by Enid Blyton, Winnie-the-Pooh, Beatrix Potter, Meg and Mog, Narnia, The Barbapapas, Little Women, The Call of the Wild, Watership Down (yes, I cried) and The Hobbit. Recently, I read Momo by Michael Ende, which is great. I haven’t read many other books for children since I was a kid, except for FMF, but I probably should!

What do you love about writing?

I like creating things. I also used to paint and draw, and I love visiting galleries and watching films. I just love arty things. With writing, I love that you can make something. You can build worlds, invent characters and create whatever you like. The story can go wherever you want it to go and the characters can do whatever you want them to. Sometimes, when I was younger, I would read a book and hate the ending, especially if my favourite someone got bumped off! If you’re writing yourself, you can make the ending how you like. They can all live happily ever after if you want. I like the fact that you can just go wild with your imagination. It’s unstoppable really. There are no barriers. The icing on the cake is when someone actually reads one of my books and the greatest thing is if they enjoy it.

Why would someone like your books?

I’m not sure. I guess many people really love cats and want to be able to speak to their pets – like a dream from childhood – so they might like Kiwi in Cat City. When I was young, I read a lot of books, but most of my favourites starred animals. I wrote the books for young readers aged 9 up. I guess middle grade is the target audience. At that age I liked books that whisked me off into a world that was totally different to my own, somewhere new and magical. I tried to create something like that. I hope that when people are reading about the kids turning into cats, they’re imagining it happening to themselves, with mews and purrs! The Kiwi books are really fun to write. My favourite is book four, Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle.

Tell me, is your glass half full or half empty?

It’s half full. I reckon there are still some surprises to come. Hopefully good ones. Now I’m looking over my shoulder!

Let’s pretend for a moment. If you could have a dinner party with five people (living or dead) who would be invited?

David Attenborough, Margaret Atwood, that Irish dude out of Downton because he’s so fit, Kate Bush and Elvis Presley. I’d have Top Cat too, if that’s allowed, or Bugs Bunny.

Do you have any advice for the editing process?

Get an editor. I’ve always been a layout sub editor, but I cannot spot all the mistakes in my own work. No one can self-edit to a professional degree. When you finish a book, I recommend leaving it for a day or so, and then editing it. Then re-edit. Then reread it. Keep editing it until you are really happy with it. Some people say to read it aloud, which is a great idea, but it isn’t something I do! Then send it off to an editor. Before doing so, read the customer reviews for the editor and ask for a sample page edit before hiring. Also, use a dictionary and don’t rely on the Word one. An editor should also advise you on your sentence structure, any plot inconsistencies and characterisation, etc.

I am also an editor, and I agree with you about editing. Now, can you describe yourself in one word?

Daydreamer.

Ah! I see! Now, if you had one, what super power would you have?

The ability to fly like a bird, of course. Or time travel. But then invincibility would be cool, too. Can I have all three?

Sure! Why not! We are writers and dreamers! Where does your inspiration come from?

All sorts. With poetry, it can be anything – a flower, a person in the street, a word, a phrase or a cloud. The Kiwi Series was inspired by my cat, Kiwi, as I’ve mentioned. I wrote Day of the Living Pizza for a charity book called The Gage Project, published by Inknbeans Press. It was for a boy called Gage who was about to have a scary operation. I asked his mother what his favourite things were and she said The Walking Dead, chicken, rock music and pizza. So I wrote a comedy horror, which is a send-up of scary zombie films and people turn into walking pizzas. I won’t tell you how chicken comes in – you’d have to read it. My other book, a comedy and starring a dog, 3 Heads & a Tail, was written for NaNoWriMo 2011, so that was my inspiration – writing 50k in the month of November. It was great for me as I’m naturally lazy and put things off. It kept my butt in front of my laptop for longer than it wanted.

Are the characters in your story based on people you know?

The character of Kiwi (Kiwi Series) is based on a black cat I used to have. She was cute, cuddly, cheeky and very, very curious. She died in 2000, and I wrote Kiwi in Cat City in 2002. I made Kiwi the main character, and then the other animals and plot emerged from that. I love the fact that she’s alive in my books because I was gutted when I lost her. She was only six. The real Kiwi was cool, loved jumping for moths (oops) and chasing shadows, ate a lot, would swat the food off your plate if you weren’t looking, liked to play with anything that moved and was really, really fluffy. She also slept on my bed. She would follow me everywhere – down the street in the morning and even to work if she could have hopped on the train. I’d have to pick her up and carry her back home. As a kitten she was just a black ball of fluff with two yellow eyes peering out. The cat I have now is called Moggie and I made her Kiwi’s mum in the books, although they never met. She appears in book two, Kiwi and the Missing Magic.

Is there any part in writing you don’t like?

Not really. I love it. The only thing I hate is when I can’t think of anything and the characters aren’t talking – that blank head moment! Oh, and bad reviews. I haven’t got my head around those. I still sulk for a bit. I’d love to be able to just write and not have to do something else to pay the bills. That’s my dream. I also wish that bookstores would want to stock my books.

Do you have any books in the works?

Yes, I’m writing a fantasy book that I started in 2009. I don’t like to say much about books until I’ve finished them, but it’s about a girl of 18 who finds herself in a different world and time. I can’t say anymore. I don’t want to jinx it in case I never finish! I also started a book for children starring some mice and another book in the Kiwi Series, which will be set before Kiwi was born. Apart from that I’m writing A Poem a Day on my blog and scribbling other little things.

Thank you, Vickie, for being such a fun guest! Please share the links where readers can connect with you and find your books!

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 various 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 me and Kiwi

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

Amazon US

Paperback

Amazon UK

Paperback

Smashwords

Diesel

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

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One Comment
  1. Thanks so much for hosting me! Purrs 🙂

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