Around 1998/1999, I had a dream about the character ‘Brain Drainer’ and the five cats. When I woke up, I thought, wow, that would be a great character for a book. Then over the next few years, different parts of the story kept popping into my mind.
I first wrote Five Cat Magic in 2005 after a very difficult time in my life. I’d just found out that I had inflammatory bowel disease, I’d lost my job as a result of my health, separated with my partner and we had to sell our home. It was quite a low point to say the least. I moved back in with my mum and was meant to be resting, but Jessica and the cats kept pestering me! I’d also seen an advert for a competition in Waterstones bookshop and decided it was time to write the book.
Once I had committed to sitting down and actually writing the story, it took me around ten days to get it on paper. The story has been through a number of rewrites and edits since then though. I spent quite a bit of time researching self-publishing and decided it would suit me better than a traditional book publishing model, as I wanted to have more control over my book. I was then just waiting until I’d found a suitable illustrator for the book, and was lucky enough to be put in touch with the wonderful Christine Jones. As the book-publishing world is very new to me, I decided to get some assistance from Matador/Troubadour who helped make the process more straightforward. I’ve loved the self-publishing process and it’s been a real family affair with my husband Alex designing the front cover and helping me with my website and social media accounts.
For me, the main message of the story is love. I strongly believe that we are all here to feel loved, loving and lovable. If that was our daily reality, I’m sure that many (all) of the problems that we face as a global community would eventually fade away.
I also wanted to write an exciting story that children would enjoy, and at the time (2005), wrote it with my four nieces and nephews in mind. They are all adults now, but they still love the story.
I was determined to publish my book, as I know it is something my big sister would have been very proud of. I lost my sister Jayne to cancer in 2017. The parts of the book where I explore the idea of an afterlife have never felt more relevant to me and I take great comfort in the thought/feeling that our loved ones do live on.
I have been beyond excited about the book being published and I’ve been working hard to get the word out. I’ve been doing book readings and creative workshops for children in my local library, bookshop, my daughter’s school, and more recently, a reading festival. I love seeing how enthusiastic the children are about my story and I hope that some of them will be inspired to keep reading and perhaps write their own stories. One little girl at a recent workshop drew a picture for me and underneath wrote, “…remember one pen and one paper can change the world”. What an inspiration.