Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Katie Stewart and Famous Animals

Today we welcome Katie Stewart to Promote Me Please. Katie answered five curly questions about her brand new book... FAMOUS ANIMALS

Hi there Katie! 
Q1. Famous Animals is a tempting title. Are the animals in this book real ones or does it include fictional heroes?

A1. The animals in this book are all fictional. There are plenty of books about real animal heroes, but these heroes are all based on famous humans, using a pun of their name. So there’s characters like ‘Felix Mendelsswan’ and ‘William Snakespeare’. It’s a humorous book first, informative second.

Q.2. How did you get the idea for writing about famous animals?

A2. I was taking part in the ’52-Week Illustration Challenge’ on Facebook. One of the themes early this year was ‘Italy’. There were lots of illustrations of pizzas and piazzas, but to me Italy is opera and opera is Pavarotti. I’m not much good at drawing people, but I love drawing animals, so I played around and eventually drew a portly rat, which I called ‘Pavaratti’. After that, I thought it would be fun to paint a whole lot of animals with names similar to those of people that are well known. The actual writing was very much a second thought, but I enjoyed researching both the animals I’d used and the real famous person. I’d never heard of some of the animals I ended up using.

Q.3. Did you do any market study (for example a poll of potential readers) before deciding on the best approach?

A3. Not as such, no. I did show a few of my pictures to people I knew and got a very positive response and lots of encouragement to carry on. I also asked on a forum I’m a member of, for ideas of famous people I could turn into animals and they really enjoyed the challenge and were a big help. I had intended the book to be entirely pictures. The consensus on the forum (Kindle Users Forum) was that a small piece about the animal and a small piece about the person next to each illustration would enhance the book and make it better for children. In the end, I think I’ve come up with a book that will appeal to both adults and children. Adults will definitely enjoy the puns.

Q.4. You have a clear interest in animals. Would you tell us about an important animal from your own life?

A4. I do love animals. We have a menagerie at home – three dogs, three cats, two budgies and a rabbit. My favourite, though, is my Golden Retriever, Annie. She was a present from my husband for our twentieth wedding anniversary (hence the name, Annie, short for anniversary) and she’s a big, lolloping lump of love on four legs. I first saw her when she was two weeks old. We’d gone on holidays and as we pulled into the driveway of the house we’d rented, I saw a retriever on the verandah of the house next door and said, ‘If I had a dog, it would be one like that.’ I wasn’t allowed to have a dog. Farmers don’t have pet dogs…or so my husband insisted. Unfortunately for him, there were nine tiny puppies in the back garden of the house next door and no fence to stop our three children falling in love with them. He spent the entire two weeks saying, ‘No, we can’t.’ Then on the last day, he told me to choose the one I liked best. He’d bought one for our anniversary in four weeks’ time and the owner had promised to bring it up to Perth for him to pick up. Annie messes the house with her big, muddy feet, drops hair everywhere, eats the cats’ dinner whenever she can and constantly hides our socks and shoes in the garden, but I love her to bits.

Q.5. Pretend you're a reader and you've just got your claws on this excellent book about Famous Animals. Write a brief email to a friend persuading him or her to buy a copy.

A5. Gee, that’s a hard one. I guess it would go something like –

How’s things? How are the kids? Is Amy still crazy about animals? You should get the new book by Katie Stewart. Amy would love it! It’s called “Famous Animals” and the illustrations in it are really funny. Each one is an animal pun of a famous person, like Aristurtle and Sir Winston Churchmouse. Some of the puns might go over Amy’s head, but there’s a bit about the real person and a bit about the animal as well so she’ll understand. It’s like a history book, a book about animals and a joke book all rolled into one. Not too expensive either. You might not be able to find it in your local book shop, but it’s available at all the online bookshops or your bookshop can order it in. I highly recommend it. It’s really different. You’ll enjoy it just as much as she will.

 Thanks, Katie! Best of luck with the book which I highly recommend to anyone who loves animals and who has a slightly offbeat sense of humour.

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