Nine Lives was our first full length book and we were resolute that it would feature Julie’s illustrations. I conceived the idea of what is essentially a Watership Down for Cats in 2007 and it took about 14 months to complete. The story of Nine Lives is based on real cats our family had the pleasure of knowing from about 1977 until the present. All the events I related in the story are based on real events and only the interpretation that I chose Bunni and the other cats would place on these events is fiction. I became so engrossed in the life and culture of the Nine Lives cats and so used to putting myself inside their furry heads that by the time I finished writing the book I’d almost come to believe I was a cat! The language of CatSpeak had already taken firm hold in our family and circle of zany friends, and developing it further was huge fun for us all.
When we tried to have Nine Lives published through conventional channels it was 2008-9 and UK was in the middle of the worst recession for some years. The publishing industry was very reluctant to take on anything that wasn’t guaranteed to be a best seller, and Nine Lives, greatly lacking in sex, violence and celebrity worship, certainly wasn’t in this category.
Julie said, “Stuff these Phraidy Cat publishers – we’ll do it ourselves!” So we set about publishing and publicizing Nine Lives ourselves, and this has been, and looks set to continue being, great fun and very stimulating. Unfortunately the illustrations had to be in monochrome, or the book would have been prohibitively expensive in the small print runs we cautiously chose. Self publishing Nine Lives has worked very well for us and in this age of internet communication and digital media it will certainly be the route of preference for future books I create. I’m pleased to say that at least Julie lived long enough to proudly see the first batch of 500 Nine Lives books delivered to our door.