Hello, Sneaky, my best meows to you. My name’s Oliver, and my translator from Cat language is called Sheila Norton. She’s not too bad at Cat, so hopefully the story will read OK in Human.
Hi, Oliver. You have the same name as my author’s real life Siamese cat. It’s a pleasure to meet you and your translator who I’m sure will do as pawsome a job as Debbie.
What book(s) have you appeared in? Please list them and their genre.
My own story is called ‘Oliver, the Cat Who Saved Christmas’. I also appear as a minor character in my little friend and protege’s story ‘Charlie the Kitten Who Saved a Life’. I taught him all he knows.
Very mice. I know Debbie is currently reading your Christmas book and is really enjoying it.
Are you in a series? If so, please give information about it.
No, at present there are just the two books in my cat-alogue, although I keep meowing new story ideas in Sheila’s ear.
Keep that up. I know it works because, after doing the same, Debbie is starting to take more advantage of my acting talents in her upcoming books.
Are you based on a real cat such as your author’s? If so, please give further details.
Apparently Sheila has had three cats of her own, but she says I’m nothing like any of them. (I hope she means that in a good way!). But she also says she’s used some of their ‘antics’ in the story. Apparently this makes me appear more loveable, so I’m happy with that!
I don’t think I’m much like Oliver, either, except for being the same breed of cat. My famous, “cats don’t get mad; they get even” scene is more based on Debbie’s other cat, Stripey – MOL (meow out loud).
Can you share an excerpt from one of your books that features you in an important scene? If so, please include it.
Yes, of course – here’s the very start of my story. I should warn you, it starts with a cat-astrophe, so it’s a bit scary. I was very aware of that, as I was meowing the story to my friend Charlie when he was only a little kitten. Here goes:
The worst night of my entire nine lives started with some leftover fish. You might think that was a bit strange, little kitten. After all, we cats all love fish, don’t we, and I often used to get leftovers, living in a pub where they made something called bar meals for the people who came in. It wasn’t actually the fish I had that night that was the problem. It was what came afterwards, when I’d gone back to my favourite chair by the fireplace and fallen asleep.
Now, stop jumping around trying to catch that fly, if you want me to tell you the story. It’s a long story for a little kitten like you, and a bit frightening in places, but you might learn something from it if you settle down and pay attention. That’s better.
Where was I? Oh yes. Asleep on my chair. Well, I woke up very suddenly when it was dark outside – and there was a horrible smell in the pub, and something tickling my nose and throat. I knew straight away it was smoke, because sometimes when my human, George, lit the fire in the bar to make it nice and cosy on a cold evening, it gave off the same kind of smell. But when he did that, the smoke went up the chimney, not into room like this. I blinked for a few minutes, trying to see what was going on. Of course, my night vision is normally excellent, but the smoke was making my eyes sore. Within a few minutes I was starting to cough and choke because it had started going down my throat too, when I did the normal stretching and yawning thing we have to do when we wake up. And then I saw them – big orange flames leaping up the curtains, and sparks flying onto the nearby chairs.
I yowled in fright. At least, I tried to, but all that came out was a pathetic squeaky noise and another bout of coughing. I jumped out of my chair, heading for the staircase to the upstairs rooms, where I knew George would be asleep in the big bedroom overlooking the garden. Luckily he always left his door open, in case I woke up in the night and decided he might appreciate my company on the bed. So I darted straight in and jumped on him, pawing at his face to wake him up. I was trying my best to meow loudly in his ear at the same time, and despite all the coughs and splutters, it seemed to do the trick because he sat up in bed, gasping in surprise.
‘Oliver!’ he said, sounding a bit annoyed. He usually only called me by my full name when I’d been naughty. ‘What on earth …?’
And then he must have smelt the smoke, because he leapt out of bed, shouting, ‘Oh my God! Fire! Fire!’
There were only the two of us in the building so I couldn’t understand who he was shouting to, but I was very relieved he’d woken up. He grabbed his mobile phone off the bedside table and his dressing gown off the hook behind the door, and I ran ahead of him along the landing and back down the stairs. I was frightened to see that the flames had spread and were now working their way up the wooden banisters, spitting sparks and billowing more black smoke. I bounded down those stairs as if there were a couple of Dobermans after me.
‘Outside, Ollie, quick!’ George shouted, beginning to cough like me.
As he unlocked the main door to the bar the cold outside air rushed in and it was as if the whole place suddenly erupted. The crash, as the staircase collapsed, was so terrible, I shot out of that door and kept running, right across the car park and under a bush at the other side, next to the road. I could see George, in his stripy pyjamas, running out with his dressing gown still in his hand, dropping it while he stabbed at the mobile phone and shouted into it: ‘Fire! The Forester’s Arms! The pub’s on fire!’
I stayed under the bush, shaking with fear, watching the fire work its way up to the roof of the pub, watching as the wood store next to the kitchen went up with a ‘whoosh!’. Then the flames spread to the fence, and then they were licking around some kind of big drums lined up behind the village hall next door. And then there was a sudden loud ‘boom’ that made me jump out of my skin, and the fire seemed to roll itself into a ball of orange that lit up the whole sky.
For a minute I was frozen with terror. I thought it was the end of at least one of my lives, for sure. There were people running out of their houses, shouting, looking for George, putting his dressing-gown and blankets round him, as if it wasn’t hot enough with all those flames. And just to add to the horror of it all, at that moment two massive fire engines came tearing down the road towards us, sirens screaming, and turned into the car park right next to the bush where I was cowering. Well, I knew I should have stayed to make sure George was all right, but my cat instinct told me I needed to get out of there as fast as I could. It wasn’t my proudest moment, deserting my human and my home. But I’m afraid I scarpered.
That was so pawsome, Oliver. You are quite the dramatic actor.
Thank you, Sneaky.
What do you like most about your role in your authors’ books?
Well, obviously, it’s an important role, as it’s my own life story and I’m extremely important to a whole village in this story. But what I like best is how I helped a little girl who needed a friend so much.
Awww. That reminds me of poor little Angelina in our new book who suffers from a bad disease known as leukemia. She was very fond of me, even though she had her own cat named Muffin to comfort her. Pets can be so soothing to sad or ill humans.
Are you a talking cat in your books or just a silent one like I am who just meows occasionally?
I talk to my cat friends (in Cat, of course), but humans can’t understand us. (Sheila obviously has unusual powers in that direction). However, as we all know, Sneaky – we cats are perfectly capable of understanding Human, even though we can’t speak it. And why would we want to speak it? It’s a very poor language in my opinion.
ROCL (Rolling on catnip laughing). I totally agree, Ollie. Humans can be quite dense when it comes to understanding both real and character cats.
What advice would you give other cat characters?
Just be yourself. Don’t let your Human transcriber try to write you into scenes you wouldn’t dream of taking part in, in real life. On the other hand, don’t be shy – if (like me) you’re the only cat in your town or village who becomes the hero of a book, make sure you meow to all the other cats in the neighbourhood about it!
Great advice. If you don’t strut your stuff, who will?
Do you have any new books coming out? Please give dates and details.
The UK edition of my little friend Charlie’s story ‘Charlie the Kitten Who Saved a Life’ is now published so I hope there will eventually be a US edition too, as you’ll meet me again in that! I might live fur, fur away in England but I want to make friends all over the world if I can.
The wonderful thing about the Internet is that connecting with readers everywhere is now possible for us cat characters.
Are you and/or your author on social media? If so, please list your links.
Yes, Sheila spends far too much time meowing to her friends on Facebook. Her author page is https://www.facebook.com/SheilaNortonAuthor. Apparently Twitter is nothing to do with birds, which is a bit disappointing for a hunter like me, but Sheila’s on that too, at https://twitter.com/NortonSheilaann. You can also find out more about me on her website –www.sheilanorton.com .
Purr-fect. I will follow you and Sheila to keep updated on your latest adventures.
Sheila says she’s sending you a picture of my book cover and a picture of herself (I don’t know why she thinks she’s so important). And also a picture of the Oliver toy she knitted. I think she’s going to give it to her grandchildren to play with – how about that, Sneaky? Not sure it looks much like me, though, to be honest! Thanks for letting me meow to you and your friends.
You’re very welcome, Oliver. Best whiskers to you and Sheila on your upcoming books.