The Tale of a Decomposing Kitty
By Isabel Atherton
Illustrated by Bethany Straker
For all of you zombie fans and cat lovers (well, perhaps I had better rephrase that, for all cat lovers who are also zombie fans) this brilliant book is a sheer delight. It is more than that, we at the West Uist Chronicle believe that it has the potential to be a Christmas bestseller and may well attain cult status.
The book is written by Isabel Atherton, literary agent extraordinaire, and illustrated by talented artist Bethany Straker. It is a short picture book for adults about Tiddles, an everyday cat-about-town who is transformed into one of the undead.
The story is wittily told and beautifully, yet macabrely illustrated. It is short, but merits several readings. Each reading reveals a little more and each illustration tempts you back again. We predict that a copy in your house will gradually decompose, like Tiddles aka Zombie Cat, although not from decay, but from frequent readings by the family, guests and whoever else passes through your abode.
The West Uist Chronicle gives this book an unreserved ***** rating.
And now, here are the creators to tell us about themselves and about their journey among the undead.
Isabel, tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Hello readers! First of all, I am the director and literary agent at Creative Authors Ltd. You can read more about my agency here:
Creative Authors prides itself on its eclectic list of authors. I only ever take on authors and books that I feel extremely passionate about. I’ve also recently started to write for pleasure myself. It’s been a very interesting experience sitting on the author’s side of the fence with Zombie Cat.
Bethany, give us the lowdown on yourself.
I’ve been illustrating magazines for a number of years now, and started working on books last year. Illustration has always been ‘The Thing That I Wanted To Do’ from an early age. It took persistence, some fairly unhappy years at university and a lot of worry – but I’m happy I can dedicate my career to illustration full time now. I like the weird and wonderful, the creepy, the odd and the funny – and I try to have these things as a base for my work and ideas. I love old scary movies like Robert Wise’s ‘The Haunting’ and their use of light and dark, which often comes out in what I do.
Isabel, where on earth did this idea come from?
I’ve always been an ideas type of person and I love helping my authors develop their initial concept into strong book proposals. This led me to think what it would be like to experience what it feels like to be in the author’s shoes. I therefore decided, at the next stroke of inspiration, I would jot down the idea and follow it through. A little while later, just as I had been bemoaning to my husband about my own lack of personal creativity, and as I started to drift off to sleep – the words ‘zombie’ and ‘cat’ jumped into my head. I leapt out of bed and promptly sent myself a text, so I would remember the idea in the morning.
Bethany, these illustrations are spectacular. How did you choose this style to illustrate Zombie Cat?
Thank you! Firstly, I decided on a colour palette. I wanted it to be grimy – so when it came to drawing it up I wanted the grime to be reflected in the amount of detail, too. I enjoyed adding little extra elements of humour and, of course, as much grisly gore as I could fit in!
Isabel, what else have you got in the pipeline? Is Zombie Cat going to rise again? I think everyone will want to know what happened to good old Jake. Are you collaborating again?
Zombie Cat may rise again. It all depends on sales figures and whether the publisher feels they’d like to see a sequel. I wouldn’t rule it out. Right now,I am moving over into children’s picture books.
I have a title called ‘The Bad Easter Bunny’ out in February next year and I am working with a wonderful French illustrator called Stephanie Rohr. You can see a little more description here about the book:
Beth and I are also collaborating again on a few more titles (we love working together!), which are coming out up until 2014. These include ‘Smelly Ghost’ (pub, Autumn 2013) - this is a story of a ghost who gets the toots from eating too much scary junk food, such as eyeball pizza, fizzy snot soda and beetles blood ice-cream. ‘Springy Chicken’ (pub, Feb 2014) is the story of Martha, a Bantam chicken, who was so savaged by a fox she lost her legs. Her owner saved her by fitting her with springs for legs, so she is able to boing! around the place. Sadly the other hens don’t like the fact she’s different. Finally, Beth and I are collaborating on ‘Mr Cow’s Deep Sea Adventure’ (pub, Summer 2014). This is the tale of Mr Cow, a Friesian cow, who can’t make cheese or yoghurts and has no desire to. He wants to explore Aztec Mountains, scale tall sand dunes, but more than anything he wants to be the first cow deep sea diver. This one is inspired by Whitstable, my hometown, a small seaside town in Kent.
Bethany, if you are collaborating with Isabel again, will you be using the same style? What else are you working on?
Isabel and I make a great team. We are collaborating on several children’s books, which Isy explains above. All of them have my signature style, although I have made simplifications for each target age group. Of course, I have also left out the gore! Smelly Ghost will be out in 2013 and I can’t wait to see what the response will be. I love working with an author like Isy as she has such a great imagination and sense of humour in her work. I also have another picture book out in late 2013 – this one is called The Lonely Curiosity Rover and is about the Mars Rover. I’m collaborating with a new author called James Duffett-Smith and we’ve been influenced by the style of 1950s Soviet propaganda posters.
Ladies, it has been a pleasure. We wish you the greatest of success with Zombie Cat – and will be looking out for your next work.
Thanks so much, Keith and Calum!
We really love this book and if you would like to hop over to the Amazon opposite, you can order your copy!