Today I have something a bit special on the blog….a WONDERFUL 10 Random Things post from Simon Philip & Ella Bailey – Author of I Don’t Know What to Call My Cat!
1. I am not, and have never been, a cat owner. Perhaps I never will be. I’d like to think otherwise, but, as the saying goes, with great cat comes great responsibility. Actually, I’m not sure that’s quite right. It’s power, isn’t it? Oh well, you know what I mean. As I was saying, having a cat DOES come with great responsibility, and I’m not sure I’m ready for quite that much just yet. I’m only 28.
2. I like cats. Despite never owning one, there have been a few in my life. Around the time I wrote I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat, I was on good terms (professionally, personally and mutually) with a lovely cat named Penny – the most beautiful blue British Shorthair one could ever hope to meet. She wasn’t as much trouble as the cat in the book but she was mischievous, so I suppose to some extent her behaviour was inspiration for the story. And she was definitely in charge, doing whatever she wanted without a care for anyone else.
As well as beautiful, good-natured cats, I also love hissy, scratchy ones. They’re just wonderful.
3. The initial idea for the book was actually I Don’t Know What to Call My Catamaran, but in the end there wasn’t quite enough action. It was just a very rich, very tanned man wearing deck shoes, a cravat and a puzzled look on his face staring at a boat. For twelve double-page spreads. The animal idea turned out to be much better, thankfully.
4. My original text was in rhyme. It was ok – other than the fact it lacked a plot, resolution and any sort of structure. Maybe I was just having a bad day, but I couldn’t think of much to rhyme with cat, either.
5. Some readers may be surprised to find a gorilla halfway through a story about a cat. Probably more surprising still is that the gorilla began life as an elephant. That’s a sentence you’re unlikely to hear David Attenborough say anytime soon, although I would LOVE to watch a documentary where that’s a legitimate bit of commentary. Nature certainly has the ability to amaze, but I reckon that’s pushing it. Anyway, the elephant became a gorilla during a meeting involving myself, Ella, Lara and Jane (our editor and art director, respectively). We all agreed that it was far more logical that a gorilla should turn up and sit down at the bus stop next to the girl, whereas an elephant? Well, that’s just silly.
– Although some of the cat names on the cover are random, many are named after (and resemble) famous people, people I know (including my sister who is very conveniently called Kitty), people who worked on the book and the cats that belong to them!
– My dog, Minnie, whose name you can find on the cover, makes an appearance as a nurse in the book.
– The little girl’s bedroom layout is based on my own when I was younger – mine was probably just as messy, too!
– Although many things changed throughout the process of illustrating this book, the cat’s design stayed the same from the very beginning.
– My favourite page to illustrate was the scene where our heroine is swarmed by dozens of hungry cats!