My latest—but also not-so-latest—book, The Lucky Black C.A.T., was released last month. Re-released, rather. This book was originally published in 2001, by Roger Stringer of TextPertise, in Zimbabwe. It was my first ever published novel—I wrote it when I was fifteen—and was heavily reliant on books I had read and loved, such as C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, and even Julie Andrews Edwards’ The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, all from that golden age of children’s literature in the middle of the 20th century, which cast ordinary, middle-class children as heroes in magical and legendary realms.
Reading those books now, they have certainly dated a little—the characters tend to be simple and two-dimensional. The logic always troubled me, also. Who would want a bunch of kids to save the world when they could have some battle-hardened adults show up? And yet, I wrote a book that was just the same. What was it about those books that captured our imaginations so? For me, it was the idea that an ordinary, bespectacled, nerdy kid like me could be important and special: fulfill a prophecy, gain magical powers, save the world, and so on. I didn’t understand the real world very well (especially when it came to social interactions), but I felt right at home in the fantasy realms of Lewis and Tolkien (I’m lumping Tolkien in with these other authors even though he doesn’t write about children traveling to magical realms, because The Hobbit was such a huge influence on me).
I still love this book. I wrote it for my cousins, Duncan and Emma, who were sick at the time, as something to be read to them at bedtime. I was living in England with my grandparents, sent over there by my parents to escape the violence in Zimbabwe in 2000. I was completely engrossed in the story, in a way that has proved hard to recapture since. For this edition, I have sharpened and tightened the language, but it remains largely the same as it was when my fifteen-year-old self hammered it out on my grandparents’ ancient P.C., all those years ago.
From the back cover:
‘There’s no time for all this,’ said the cat. He cleared his throat dramatically. ‘I come from the Lost Land. No, don’t interrupt yet, I’ll explain. It’s a place where everything lost from this world goes. Unicorns, Dragons, spare change, socks … You know how you always lose one in the washing machine? It goes to the Lost Land.’
A perfectly ordinary summer turns into a wild adventure when Duncan and Emma meet a talking Cat who takes them to the Lost Land, a magical world under attack by a dark wizard.
You can buy the book here!
The second book in the Lost Land Chronicles, The Wizard’s Heir—which I also wrote when I lived in Zimbabwe—will be out later this month.Share: