Over the next two days, The Mess is participating in the Raining Cats & Dogs Tour with Vickie Johnstone and David M. Brown. Today we are visited by Vickie to discuss her book, Kiwi in Cat City. I hope you show your love and support to our guests.
I’m going to Cat City...By Vickie Johnstone
Today, I’ve asked Kiwi the cat to take me to her other home when she’s not here in the human world - Cat City. I’m so excited as I’ve been writing about her adventures in six books now, and I’m especially thrilled because she is going to have to turn me into a cat first. I’m ready to earn my feline stripes!!
“Come on,” says the little black cat, stopping to glance at me. “We’re nearly there.”
“Okay,” I reply, quickening my pace. This feline can really run!
I’ve always known that Kiwi could speak, but it still throws me every time. Whenever I go home after hearing her tell me of her latest adventure, I try to talk to Moggie, my own cat (I named her after Kiwi’s mum!), but she just gazes at me with bored eyes and walks away after a while.
“Here we are,” announces Kiwi.
I glance around. We are in the big empty field from the Kiwi Series. Tall trees loom all around. They really do stretch up like a giant, natural wall, just as Amy and James described.
“There’s more here than the eye can see,” remarks Kiwi, gazing up with her big, yellow saucer eyes. “Just follow what I do, and concentrate. It’s easy.”
The cat sits down and stares up at the moon, which is glowing brightly, shaped like a cat’s claw. Looking up at me, she says, “One, two, three, a flick of the tail, a purr, a leap and away we go…”
Puff! She vanishes. All that remains is a strange, glowing, purple mist.
I shake my head, blinking. I knew this would happen. After all, I’ve written about it so many times. So why am I so surprised? I guess it’s my turn now. I take a deep breath and do a few stretches. Well, you never know… I’m getting a bit creaky, so maybe I need to loosen up my limbs for this! I hope my dodgy knee doesn’t let me down!
I start counting out loud, “One, two, three…”
With a flick of my imaginary tail, which is big and bushy in my mind, I make an odd purring sound, which sounds like indigestion, and leap up into the air. But what am I leaping into? Hang on! Wow! It feels like I’m flying through the air. I feel weightless! It’s amazing. And now I’m floating, slowly and softly, as if the wind is carrying me down and down, falling like a feather. All around me, everything is purple. I’m plunging in a purple mist.
Thud! I land with a bump and some grass tickles my nose. “Achoo!”
I try to get up, but my legs give way and there are four of them! Oh my god, they are fluffy! And furry! I blink. My butt feels different like something is attached and I turn to see a big tail sticking out. I gasp and fall flat on my face again. Eeeeek!
“Um, the landing can sometimes be a bit difficult until you get used to it,” explains Kiwi, coolly washing her nose with her paw. “You’ll have to get used to being on four feet now!”
After what seems like an eternity, but is only about half an hour, I finally get the hang of four-paw walking, although I can’t imagine it ever feeling natural. I have this weird urge to scratch and my nose itches. My whiskers are getting some strange vibrations and I almost feel like I’m going to pick up radio. Turning my head, I stare at my tail, which strangely reminds me of a wiggly worm with a life of its own because it’s twirling all over the place when I want it to just stick up in the air. Ah, up it goes. Now stay there tail!
“Are we ready?” asks Kiwi, trying not to laugh at me.
I’m amazed at how incredibly patient she is and what a good walking teacher. If I was her, I would have called me a dunce and run away. But, no, she’s sitting there as mysterious as the Sphinx, just waiting for me to get my act together. “I’m ready,” I say, but it sounds like a high-pitched meow, which makes me laugh. I shut up quick as that sounds even worse.
“Let’s go,” suggests Kiwi, walking ahead.
I stumble along behind her, chasing my paws and feeling like the back end of a cow costume. My tail sticks up like radar and I wonder what the birds in the trees are thinking right now, if they haven’t fallen out in shock.
“Is it far?” I ask after five minutes, as I’m having a few walking issues.
“We’ll be there in the blink of an eye,” replies my yellow-eyed, black companion.
Somehow I don’t believe her. After an hour’s stumbling, we reach a clearing.
“Stick with me,” says Kiwi. “But if you get lost, remember that tree over there.” I look to where her paw is pointing. “If you stare at it long enough with your cat eyes you will see it change colour to purple. Pass by it and walk thirty minutes in a straight line and you’ll be home.”
I nod, scared to meow again.
Kiwi marches over to a crop of bright bluebells in the centre of the clearing and walks around them. I know what comes next as I’ve written about it a zillion times and she doesn’t explain for the same reason. There’s something mysterious about my feline friend right now. I watch her walk around in a circle three times and then she disappears. I blink. A purple mist hangs in the air where she last stood.
My turn to follow! I echo her movements and vanish. Puff! And I reappear somewhere else.
“Glad you could make it,” jokes Kiwi with a big grin. “Are you having a good time so far?”
“Yes,” I mew, “although I’m a dodgy walker. I know it. So embarrassing!”
Kiwi winks at me. “Not bad for a first-timer and you’re no kitten anymore…”
Thanks for reminding me.
“… so it takes you a bit longer to learn new things,” she adds.
Thanks for reminding me.
“Follow me,” says Kiwi, walking towards the entrance to a tunnel. It’s the entrance to Cat City! Yes!
Feeling slightly old and decrepit, and past my furry best, I pad along behind her, my whiskers on red alert and my tail doing its best snake dance.
“Start practising your meows and purrs,” Kiwi advises me. “Don’t let anyone think you’re not a cat. I don’t know how I’ll explain that you’re actually my author. Or maybe that should be my ghost writer! Woo-hoo! By the way, are you making much money from my adventures?”
I cough, which sounds like a rhino on a rollercoaster, and shake my head. “Best we don’t even go there,” I reply.
Kiwi chuckles to herself as we walk into a long, curving tunnel, but it isn’t made of earth. The floor, ceiling and walls are covered with little blue and white tiles to make an intricate mosaic of tiny cats. Now and then, the tiles blink and the cats’ eyes glow to light the way, alerted by our presence. Even though I’ve written about this, I’m impressed. Kiwi starts to whistle a tune and I grin to myself. Cats whistling? Now that’s fun.
After a while we reach a small purple door with the image of a big cat in the middle.
“Who is there?” asks a small voice.
A peephole opens in the face of the cat on the door, and some white whiskers pop out. “And who is that?”
“A friend called Tinker,” Kiwi replies.
Tinker? And then I remember that Vickie just wouldn’t sound cat-like.
The door vanishes. “Welcome to Cat City,” says the owner of the tiny voice – a rather huge white tom. “We hope you have a very enjoyable day. Here’s a map.”
“Thanks,” I mew, taking the small folded leaflet. I turn it over and it pops up in the shape of cat, which belts me on the nose. “Ouch!”
“Bye Georgy,” mews Kiwi, waving a paw.
I do the same, but feel strangely like a furry queen.
“Follow me,” says the black cat. “And, whatever you do, don’t speak again. Just purr or something!”
“Did I do it wrong?” I ask. “Is it my accent?”
Kiwi doesn’t reply. She just grins and winks, and pats me on the shoulder.
Suddenly, I feel like our positions are reversed and I feel really nervous in this crazy world… full of catizens! Yes, there they are – everywhere! They’re walking to and fro, carrying bags and baskets, dressed in an assortment of clothes: waistcoats, shorts, little booties, belts, feathers – yes, even a feather boa – dresses and hats. They’re just so colourful.
I purr to myself as a small brown cat whizzes past on a catboard! I was wondering how they work in real life and there one goes. The young tom has perfect balance. I envy him as I could never get the hang of a skateboard as a kitten… I mean kid. I scratch myself behind the ear, and then, shocked by my behaviour, I warn myself never, ever, ever to do that again!
“Wow,” I exclaim. “Cat City is so… I’m lost for words, Kiwi. I love it!”
Kiwi looks at me, grinning from ear to ear. “It’s better to see it than write about it, isn’t it?”
I nod. “But the writing is a lot of fun.”
“This is the main street in the city,” explains Kiwi, padding ahead with a wiggle.
I follow. I’m amazed at how clean the road and pavements are. They are paved with the same blue and white mosaic as the tunnel – all in designs of cats and paws. They glisten to a high degree. It must be their sun, I remember, and gaze up. Sure enough, the sun is brighter than anything I’ve seen before and orangey. The gorgeous light floods everywhere, making everything shimmer and shine. How I want to take it home!
I pad along, gazing around, kind of in awe. All of the houses, buildings, shops and streetlights are cat size. Here and there catcars zoom past. Well, it’s more like a casual walk in the park than a zoom, but you get the picture. Instead of four wheels the catcars have four paws and are peddled by the driver, whose head sticks out of the roofless vehicle. Here it is always summer, so roofs are not needed. Lucky things – endless summer!
All of the buildings have cat-size doors with small, round glass windows and blue handles shaped like cats’ paws. We pad along past Cat Tools, Meow Café, Purrfect Mouse Burgers, Kitty Parlour, Insurance in a Whisker, Meow Market and Paws for Thought.
Every cat who walks by gives a little nod to Kiwi and I feel like I’m walking next to a celebrity. I try not to twitch or fall flat on my face. I must walk properly with my tail in the air. I shimmy down the street.
We pad past the Catema, which is showing Furrlight, The Amazing Spider-Cat and Life of Paw. I purr to myself, imagining the show. What if..?
“Kiwi?” I ask. “I wonder if we could, well...”
She turns, her ears perking up. “What?”
“Do you think we could watch a movie? I’ve written about this, but can’t imagine what a film would be like. You know, with real cats acting, and not just a cartoon...”
Kiwi grins from ear to ear and her golden eyes light up. “Why not?” she replies with a purr. “I haven’t watched a clawfilm in ages. It will be kitty good fun. Afterwards we can get a grass milkshake in Meow Cafe.”
I wrinkle up my nose, which Kiwi notices. “No, they’re kitty good. I wouldn’t lie to you now, would I? You know I don’t!”
“Okay, I trust you,” I answer. “But can we visit Inspector Furrball and Madame Purrfect afterwards? I’d love to meet them. I’ve heard so much.”
“Of course,” says Kiwi. “They’re expecting us. It was meant to be a surprise, but they want us there for dinner. Furrball has made some of his favourite biscuits and not the mouse ones! My mother, Moggie, will be there too, along with Misty – well, you won’t be able to see her, as you know, but she’ll be there – and Siam, Amy and James, and my new friend who comes from Egypt...”
“Ah,” I mew, as Kiwi goes a little red under her fur. “You met him in Ancient Egypt. I wrote about that in Kiwi in the Realm of Ra.”
“Yes, that’s him,” she purrs. “So, as you can see, we have a busy day ahead of us, and I might even do some magic for you. Just a little, but don’t tell Moggie! She doesn’t like me showing off!”
“It’s a deal,” I say.
“Purrfect,” replies Kiwi, and a sudden shimmer of purple light ripples down the black fur on her back. I swear that her eyes just changed from yellow to purple and back again. I blink.
“That was just a quick demonstration,” she teases. “Now, let’s go and see a little bit of Spider-Cat. He can do whatever a spider can, you know?”
“I know,” I purr, and I’d bet my last pound that Kiwi can too.
Book excerpt from Kiwi in Cat City
Chapter 1: Follow, follow
Amy awoke and saw her black cat sitting perched on the end of her bed, studying the gleaming moon. She rubbed her eyes and sat up just in time to see Kiwi leap out of the window and on to the ledge below. Amy crept out of bed and peered outside. The cat was standing perfectly balanced on the wooden garden fence, calm and still, her tail perked up. A dark silhouette staring up at the moon. I wonder where she’s going, thought Amy. She crept into her brother James’ room where he was sleeping soundly, and prodded his arm until he woke with a jump.
“What?” he gasped, wiping the sleep from his eyes. “I was dreaming. You really scared me.”
“Come and look.”
“Eh?” He stumbled out of bed and, like a zombie, followed his sister to the window. Gazing out, they could see the black cat still sitting on the fence.
“She has been sitting there for ages,” said Amy.
“Maybe she’s stretching,” he shrugged.
They watched, but Kiwi didn’t stretch. Instead she leapt off the fence and stood on the path, looking up at the moon.
“Now that’s weird. That’s what I’m talking about,” said Amy. “She’s thinking about something.”
“I wonder where she goes at night,” James mused.
“Hunting mice,” grinned Amy.
“Yuk, she wouldn’t. Would she?”
“Tell you what, I’m going to follow her and see…”
“You’re crazy,” gasped James. “It’s 1am and mum will kill you.”
“I want to see what she has for breakfast,” Amy laughed. “Don’t you?”
“Yuk! That’s grim,” said James, screwing up his face.
Amy wandered back to her room with her little brother following, half-asleep and a bit confused.
“So you’re coming then?” asked Amy, putting on her shoes and jacket.
“Errm,” he murmured as his sister crept out of the room on tiptoes. “Okay, but if she catches anything I’m not touching it…”
James slid on his trainers, jeans and jacket, and crept down the stairs after his sister, being careful not to make a sound. He could hear his dad snoring like a sleeping dragon. The sound echoed off of every wall. They tiptoed to the back door and slowly opened it on its creaky hinges. It was so loud. Ahh.
Kiwi was still sitting in the middle of the garden, staring up at the moon. Holding their breath they slowly closed the door without a sound. Turning around, they were just in time to see Kiwi plunge over the fence in a single bound. The two children looked at one another, raised eyebrows, and ran to the bottom of the garden to the gate. Out they went, giggling. It was a warm summer night without a breeze. In the field beyond the gate, trees soared up against the night sky, jagged and spectre-like. Without the shine of the moon it would have been completely dark. James shivered, but he had already decided that he was not going to look scared, even if he was.
“There she goes,” pointed Amy, as they bounded across the field towards the black tail that bobbed above the grass in the distance.
They chased and chased. The black cat ran and ran. They swerved between trees and the black cat just kept running. The children started to puff and pant. “Kiwi!” they yelled.
Suddenly, the cat’s ears pricked up and she stopped with a jump. Caught unawares, the little black cat turned around, her yellow eyes wide and enquiring. “Are you two following me?”
Amy and James stopped dead in their tracks. James sat down on the grass with a bump, his mouth wide open. Amy wanted to say something, but she couldn’t speak.
“Well, are you?” asked Kiwi, standing up straight and resting one paw on her hip. “It’s a bit late to be out playing you know.”
Kiwi grinned the biggest, widest grin and flicked her tail. She sat down and started washing, knowing that she had just given her two playmates the biggest shock of their lives. She carried on washing her paw, flicked out a claw, and waited for a reply. It was a long time coming.
The children were transfixed, rooted to the spot. Cold fingers of air travelled up their spines and made all of the hairs on their necks stand up. Amy gulped. Was she dreaming?
“What’s wrong?” laughed Kiwi. “Cat got your tongue?”
“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” Amy sat down with a thump.
“Yooouuuu taaaallllkkkkk,” James stuttered.
“Well, what were you expecting? Sign language?” asked Kiwi matter-of-factly.
“But, we can understand you,” mumbled Amy, pinching her arm. Ouch. She wasn’t dreaming. Could this be real after all?
“Well, I know several languages,” explained Kiwi. “It comes in handy. So you WERE following me? Ha ha!”
“Sort of,” said James. “We were wondering what you ate for breakfast.”
“Like mice?” asked Kiwi, grinning.
Kiwi laughed. “I have more important things to do. And mice taste funny. Errr. Not good. And mice have feelings too. They’re very intelligent you know. I have several good friends who are mice…” Kiwi stopped talking as the two children sat open-mouthed in shock, blinking oddly.
“Ok, well, enough of that,” she carried on. Best to change the subject. “I was joking. I don’t have any mouse friends! Well, you see that moon up there? See how it’s really bright and glowing?”
The kids nodded.
“And see how it’s shaped like a cat’s claw?”
“I guess…” said James.
“Well, nights like these are not ordinary nights,” said the cat, looking straight at the boy.
James shivered. “Why?” He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the answer. Was Kiwi going to eat them?
“Well,” said Kiwi slowly, “if you really want to know… why don’t you follow me some more?”
It was a challenge. The cat was grinning from ear to ear now. Amy was cold and scared. She could only stare awkwardly as though hypnotised while her brother chatted to the cat… the cat… THE CAT! She felt dizzy.
Kiwi in Cat City
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 them 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 solve the mystery of the missing catizens and find out what happened to Madame Purrfect.
For children aged 9+, teens and adults. This book is the first in the Kiwi Series.
So far, there are six books in the series.
Ebook price: $99/77p
Paperback price: $7.50/£4.86
Vickie Johnstone lives in London, UK, where she works as a freelance sub-editor on magazines and 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.
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.
The Kiwi Series has illustrations by Nikki McBroom.
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
Vickie and David are giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card to all who enter while they are on tour. Enter for your chance to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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