By Candace Cheatham, Editor, Kids Corner at Kindle Nation Daily
We announced last week that Kiwi In Cat City (Kiwi series) by Vickie Johnstone is the Kids Corner Book of The Week. Today we are very excited to post an exclusive interview with author Vickie Johnstone.
KIDS CORNER’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:
Kids Corner: Can you tell us a little about the world of Cat City?
Vickie Johnstone: A tunnel leads into Cat City, which is covered in little blue and white mosaics of paws and cat heads. There is a purple door at the end, guarded by a big, white cat called Georgy. In Cat City, it is always summer, and the sun is very bright and orangey. The streets are clean, and paved with blue and white mosaics. Everything is cat size. Houses are small, with round windows and blue doors. There are no cat flaps! That’s a human thing! All of the light bulbs are regulation blue as the cats think this is best for their eyes and relaxing.
There is a Catema where you can watch films like Furrlight and For a Few Kitties More. The catizens wear clothes, although they don’t have to, so you will see some booties, waistcoats, dresses, hats and even the odd feather boa. They get around the city in catcars, which they pedal with their paws, while kittens opt for catboards. Meow Cafe is popular and known for its grass milkshake while Purrfect Burgers offers some very good mouse delicacies.
The tallest building in Cat City is Cat Crime, which is grey, except for the red knocker on its front door. The building is grey as a security measure – why is revealed in book two! Inspector Furrball, a ginger tom who is never seen without his bright red waistcoat, is head of the Cat Squad. He works here and he is best buddies with Kiwi. She often helps him with investigations. Furrball’s right-paw tom is Siam, a computer whizzcat, whose whiskers are a bit bent and he is in need of a good dinner.
Most of the catizens get along, but the main bad tom is Dev, a white cat with one black paw. Below the city is the UnderPaw where the crimicats live.
Kids Corner: Kiwi in Cat City has received 19 straight 5-star reviews on Amazon. Why do you think readers, young and old, are raving about Kiwi?
Vickie Johnstone: I’m not sure, but I’m really happy about it! I guess people really love cats and want to be able to speak to their pets – like a dream from childhood. When I was young, I read a lot of books, but my faves 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!
I also love cats. I used to have a cat called Kiwi and the book was written around her. When I started writing the book, I wasn’t sure where it would lead, but other characters began to appear and it grew. It’s the same with every story. I’m not sure what will happen, so it’s an adventure for me too. And they are really fun to write. My favorite is Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle.
Kids Corner: What is your favorite scene in Kiwi in Cat City?
Vickie Johnstone: In Cat City, it is when Amy and James discover that their cat can talk. When I was little, we had a lot of pets. Our house was like a zoo, and my dad bred birds. It was great for us kids. Being little, I used to talk to the animals and birds – even my pet fish – thinking they understood and somehow were communicating by telepathy! Then I got a bit older and realised, hey, that’s not how it is! But wouldn’t it be cool? Talking animals… Doctor Doolittle, eat your heart out! I also like the chase scene at the end of Cat City… but I can’t say anymore! And when the kids clap eyes on Cat City for the first time and all the little cats dressed up in clothes.
Kids Corner: What authors have influenced you? Any YA authors that have influenced your current work?
Vickie Johnstone: I was a 70s kid. I love Roald Dahl. My favorite book is Fantastic Mr Fox. I think it is perfect and I love his sense of humor. I read that it is also his favorite as he felt everything was in the right place. I also really liked Hans Christian Anderson’s stories, especially The Little Mermaid. Other favorites were The Folk of the Faraway Tree (I even tried to find this tree!) by Enid Blyton, Winnie-the-Pooh, Narnia, Watership Down (yes, I cried) and The Hobbit.
Kids Corner: Can we expect anything else from you? What other books can our readers get in the Kiwi Series?
Vickie Johnstone: Yes, definitely! I hope so. So far I have written six books in the Kiwi Series. There are plot threads running though the books, except for the sixth, which is for Christmas, and I wrote it in such a way that a reader could pick it up without having read the others.
Each book takes the children and Kiwi to different words, solving mysteries and meeting new characters. Gradually, the reader learns about Kiwi and her background, the other catizens, and these animal-inhabited worlds. There are some moral lessons to be learnt, and the kids learn about themselves and life in general. Some books take place in the human world, such as book five, where everyone heads off to Ancient Egypt.
The six books are: Kiwi in Cat City, Kiwi and the Missing Magic, Kiwi and the Living Nightmare, Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle, Kiwi in the Realm of Ra, and Kiwi’s Christmas Tail. I haven’t thought of an idea for the next book yet though. I keep thinking of unicorns, so maybe…
I’ve also written a comedy detective series for readers aged 10 up, called the Smart & Dewdrop Mysteries. There are two books so far: Day of the Living Pizza (a comedy horror about people eating pizza and turning into zombies) and Day of the Pesky Shadow (about a grey shadow causing havoc in Crazy Name Town). Besides those I have written three books of poetry and a comedy romance for readers aged 16 up, called 3 Heads & a Tail. It stars four characters, of which the true hero is the dog. It was a lot of fun to get into the head of a pooch and just go mad with it.
Kids Corner: Any advice for our young writers out there?
Vickie Johnstone: Just to write what you enjoy and don’t give up. Let your imagination be your guide. Since I was a kid, I always had my nose in a book and I was writing stories from when I was in Junior School. I didn’t write Kiwi in Cat City until 2002 (so I was 30-ish!). I sent three chapters to a big publisher who rejected it. I never submitted it again, thinking the book wasn’t any good. Around Christmas 2011, my boyfriend read about kindle self-publishing. I dug out Kiwi, typed it up, edited it, found a cover and published it. I think this is one of the most fulfilling things I ever did. I thought to myself, even if no one reads it, I’ve fulfilled my dream, which was to publish a book.
The first reviewer loved it and I was overwhelmed. No one had read the book and I thought no one would. I then met a lot of authors who were just as crazy about books as me, and I’ve written 10 books since then. To me this is a miracle as the only book I ever finished previously was in 2002. I owe it to all of the supportive authors I met online.
So my advice to young writers is to write away and don’t give up. Some people write what they know while others just dream away. Find your own style and just enjoy yourself. Writing is such great fun. It’s total freedom. I think everyone has a good story in them and now is the best time to be a writer because things have opened up. It is very easy to publish a book, and there are many writers’ groups on Facebook who offer great advice and support. You’ll find a great community of indie authors online, all passionate about writing. The world is waiting to read your book.
A very special thanks to author Vickie Johnstone! Check out Vickie’s website at http://kiwiincatcity.com/.