It’s Week Two of our 2023 Self-Promo Friday event and a special week indeed… As we are expanding our horizons to new genres, the focus today is on children’s literature (the subject of last week’s feature also). It’s our pleasure to introduce screenwriter Rhys Reed-Johnson, author of the delightful ‘King Arthur’s Cat‘. Have a look at what he told us about his work.
WHAT IS YOUR BOOK ABOUT?
King Arthur’s Cat is mostly about… a cat. It is also mostly about King Arthur. Now I won’t say who… but one of them holds the title ‘Worst king of Camelot’ and spends most of the day sleeping, while the other eats fish and licks himself. For those interested, the cat happens to be called Sir Softpaws and King Arthur is called many things beside King Arthur, often using naughty words. When Sir Softpaws suddenly grows fifty feet tall as if by magic and Merlin is nowhere to be found, a whole bunch of trouble breaks out in Camelot. Every dog runs away. Giant hairballs block the streets. Somebody drinks the moat dry. Random bystanders are accidentally squished by a fleeing orange stripy suspect. It’s total chaos, chaos without rules, rules without hope, hope without a clue, especially when the chances of returning Sir Softpaws to his normal size seem less than certain. What’s worse, Arthur decides he wants to help, and no matter what nonsense the King tries to fix the problem, a right royal pickle is usually the result.
WHAT SETS IT APART FROM THE COMPETITION?
I’m thrilled you asked. There are just simply more reasons than I can possibly count, but here’s a few surefire wallet-openers. The cover art is age-appropriate, the book’s weight is evenly distributed, and its pages are much softer and more enjoyable to turn than the average itchy shelf-stacker. The font is easy on the eyes as is the author. The story has that beginning, middle, and end fad people appreciate in their fiction. Some characters are likeable and the ones who aren’t are routinely punished. For the first time in any book I know of, a cat has a frank conversation with a dragon, boldly breaking new literary ground. There’s an educational bonus too: readers can learn about the devastating effects of sawdust and what can happen in a cluckawort outbreak. Finally and very importantly, the book redresses a grave historical injustice: as a society we’ve heard far too many stories about one man and his dog at the expense of unfairly marginalising the relationship between one man and his cat – love is love and cats are pets. Finally again, it is my opinion some books are too heavy, especially for children, but this book you can easily grip in one hand and so prevent tears before bedtime.
COULD YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?
Yes, yes I can. I am a writer, in this case, of books. Having learned to spell my name sometime in childhood, my literary career has come on leaps and bounds since then. I once dressed as a horse and almost got shot by Her Majesty’s Government for my craft. It remains my proudest achievement. Over the years, I’ve sat at a lot of tables and written a lot of stuff for a lot of things; the only medium I have yet to apply my trade to is sock puppetry (something I might do if the money’s right). I have won many awards and lost even more awards. So long as there’s a roof over my head and a roast chicken in my fridge, I am the happiest soul alive.
WE ARE INTRIGUED… WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA TO WRITE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND WHAT ARE YOUR SOURCES OF INSPIRATION?
I think adults have read too much. As such, it’s much harder to trick them into believing dragons and/or magic exists, that going on adventures is a worthwhile hobby, or working hard and trying your best is what’s really important in life. Children are easier to entertain. I’d rather create obvious fun than something needing an intersectional postmodernist lens to be deconstructed for absolutely nobody’s enjoyment. As for where my inspiration comes from, I give everybody the same answer: the need to pay rent. It is so easy to be creative when there are bills to pay.
ARE YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
‘King Arthur’s Cat’ is available here: https://cwcshop.company.site/King-Arthurs-Cat-p461321483