Talk Radio Europe
BBC Radio Wales
Mal Pope BBC Radio Wales
10.8.16 I am pleased to say this book is now almost sold out, and has proven to be a much-loved book for countless cat lovers all over the world. Plus it spawned an illustrated shorter version (2015) suitable for kids and adults, and also a sequel A Cat Called Dog 2 - The One with the Kittens (out 2016/2017). I now have plans to write a musical around these wonderful characters who have taken me on such a cat-tastic journey since we first met in 2012. Watch this space!
Received my copies of 'A Cat Called Dog' on 26th June; the release date has been brought forward to 1st July (from 1st September).
I've sent off a few review copies (I've received a letter from David Attenborough and others; plus emails from several more celebrities and cat charities).
First book signing confirmed: Saturday 24th August, 2.30-3.30 pm, at Cover to Cover bookshop, Newton Road, Mumbles, Swansea.
31.7.13 Now got over 500 followers on Twitter (after 3 weeks). Got a lovely email from Dr Sarah Ellis (one of the academics on the BBC2 Horizon show 'The Secret Life of Cats'.
Also got a lovely letter from Jilly Cooper, and from David Attenborough.
Another copy also has a copy of A Cat Called Dog - according to an email I have from her secretary/assistant: Delia Smith, no less. Letter of thanks also from PETA and a thank you email from Battersea Dogs and Cats home too.
Word of mouth is obviously working...
Actually, we've even got ITV news coming round to film a TV interview today (31st July) though that's for me to talk about my experience with the NHS complaints procedure (I was in the House of Commons on 4 July to give my opinion and contribution to Ann Clywd's report - which will be out soon).
Just completed the interview with ITV Wales people - they suggested I talk about the book, so maybe it'll be broadcast tonight (on ITV Wales) or next week on ITN National news.
Just got a letter of thanks from Boris Johnson today too. Not sure if he's a cat lover, but maybe he knows one to pass the book onto if he isn't (and actually he does seem rather busy too!)
Looking forward to the book signing at Cover to Cover Bookshop, Mumbles on Saturday 24th August.
Also, just got first national radio mention: The Janice Long show, 1.55am 22/8/13, plugging the book signing. Great! Thanks Jan!
The book signing went well, despite a bug laying me low! A few turned up but most people were down the beach to enjoy the sun! Anyway, I shall have more signings later - maybe one in the run-up to Christmas, at the same place. Nice to be invited back!
Just had a lovely phone interview with Hannah Murray from TalkRadioEurope in southern Spain; it'll be on their book show (Thursday evenings + Sunday mornings) online in the next month.
Looking forward to this afternoon's live interview on BBC Radio Wales' Louise Elliott show 3-3.30pm.
11/9/13 Both interviews went really well - and people who heard the BBC Wales one liked it. The TalkRadioEurope one will be broadcast on their bookshow later this month.
I've also received positive and supportive emails from David Nobbs (writer of Reggie Perrin who read Crump and gave some advice), Terence Blacker (Independent journalist) and Jeffrey Archer's office. Much appreciated.
A Cat Called Dog has excellent reviews on the USA Amazon.com site + Goodreads + thebookbag.co.uk + Netgalley.
October 2013: Catworld magazine has a lovely review of A Cat Called Dog this month:
'I found myself laughing out loud at some of Dog's antics and his character reminded me very much of a young child caught up with the excitement of life.'
This is actually precisely what I intended to convey in the innocent and confused little kitten!
The review continues:
'There are adventures, wonderful characters to meet on the way and also unexpected sadness - very much like true life really. I read many books and thoroughly enjoyed this one, from cover to cover.'
I am so glad the Catworld editor 'gets' the book - some people seem to be reading it as a children's book and then complaining that the language is too complex! It's not a children's book, but a fable, like Animal Farm or Aesop's fables, for adults and brighter children - though if there is agent/publisher interest I can easily create a book for 7-11 year olds from this, in the manner of Roald Dahl's books.
October 4th 2013.
Got a lovely email from David Bellamy today - I sent him a free review copy. He says:
'A good read with your cat or cats purring on your lap or stalking around the garden. To date our family cherished our cats as members of the family, 15 over almost 40 years and when they shuttled off their feline coil they were laid to rest in the garden. So I just had to read “A Cat called Dog”. I must say that I enjoyed it right to the end and so did the cat...'
October 5th 2013
Lorna, the editor of SA2 Times Magazine, dropped round a few copies of the October-November issue in which there is an interview with me - and I also make it onto the cover! Not sure what I think of being a local celebrity - or 'sleb', as I believe they are called! I am only just getting used to recognised after my TV appearance in August! But great to see local press supporting local writers - if the local bookstore chains (think Waterstones) could be as supportive, it'd be great!
October 22nd 2013
A Cat Called Dog gets a mention in Your Cat magazine (November) and is also in the Cat Gallery catalogue than came with it. It seems that fiction is a harder sell than true-life story cat books, especially the achingly sentimental ones (which really are not my bag, and there are now SO many of these), but I do feel good solid stories and characters will outlast these non-fiction sob-fests. I am reminded of War Horse, published 1983, that took decades to grow and become recognised. Can anyone even remember an autobiography from 1983? Fiction has more truth perhaps - that's why it lasts.
Delighted about the review in Cat World magazine too.
People have complained to me that they went into our local Waterstones and asked for the book and it's not in stock. I think Waterstones has lost several sales because they are (incredibly) not stocking a well-known local author's second novel (they stocked the first, Crump). Odd really. So much for 'Swansea City of Culture 2017' campaign. If local bookstores and chains can't even stock the books of local authors, then Swansea does not deserve to be City of Culture in any year, and certain book chains deserve to go bust too.
Thankfully, the wonderful Cover to Cover in Mumbles - the ONLY true independent bookshop in Swansea and one of the best in the UK (according to The Independent 50 Best Bookshops) has the book in stock, as does Amazon, and these two have no doubt had the 5+ sales that would have gone to Waterstones. Hmmm.... Well, they've lost me as a customer forever. My local Waterstones can't even stock ONE copy of a local author's second novel? Tsss.
31.10.13 My 3rd print interview published on a blog now:
I was also on Radio 4's World at One on Monday 28th October - I was part of Ann Clwyd MP's report into the NHS complaints process. I am interviewed in the House of Commons speaking a line I made up: DELAY, DENY and DEFEND' to describe the modern NHS complaints process attitude. That soundbite made it into the final report submitted to the Prime Minister.
'The days of delay, deny and defend must end'.
Ann Clwyd has also let me know that an old friend of hers who was visiting loved A Cat Called Dog. Word of mouth is working for this book which makes up for a certain bookshop's (beginning with a W) lack of support.
Just preparing an advert for The Oldie for December and January now. It'll also be in The Literary Review for December.
Just got a tweet to say that my interview on TalkRadioEurope's Bookshow with Hannah Murray will be broadcast online today at 6pm and repeated Sunday 1 December at 8am. It's a fun interview, I remember! Here is the link:
Also, just got an email from Sarah Millican's office today, thanking me for sending a copy of A Cat Called Dog to her - Sarah is a great cat lover!
The Talk Radio interview sound file is now on the author page with the BBC one.
A Cat Called Dog will be a READ IT book in the South Wales Evening post (Saturday) this month or next.
Heard from local MP who has written to all Swansea bookstores asking that they support local authors. Sadly, and inexplicably, Waterstones is not doing so and still not stocking copies of A Cat Called Dog (which is an insane business decision because they would have sold over 10, maybe 20+, if they had been nice and intelligent enough to stock it).
So, if that's the way it's gonna be, I'm not visiting a Waterstones or buying a book from them ever again; instead I shall buy online or via small independent local bookshops like the wonderful Cover to Cover in Mumbles - Swansea's ONLY good bookshop.
Sales of e-books in the USA are excellent and the reviews on goodreads.com from American readers are also fab.
When I have time, I shall complete the children's version of A Cat Called Dog - that will be more commercial, I know, but a lot of the wit and arch humour of the adult version has to be jettisoned, of course.
Final news of the day: I now have over 1350 followers on Twitter @acatcalleddog.
Some nice ads for the book in The Oldie and The Literary Review for December/January.
14.12.13 - The Evening Post in Swansea has featured A Cat Called Dog on its 'READ IT' Weekend section today.
18.12.13 Now have over 1500 followers on Twitter!
Paid a visit yesterday to Cover to Cover (the ONLY truly independent book shop in Swansea); bought some children's books to study before completing the kids' version of A Cat Called Dog (which will be send to agents/publishers next year - and is more commercial and easily-categorised than the original book, which is the first ever cat lovers' novel!) I look forward to seeing the finished children's version, for the 8-12 Roald Dahl age group, with illustrations too.
Excellent sales of A Cat Called Dog, despite its not being stocked by major book chains who seem to have lost their way (W-stones - that's you I mean). The e-books are doing very well in the USA, Spain and elsewhere.
20/12/13 Unfortunately, Amazon have let A Cat Called Dog become unavailable, despite my publisher dispatching copies to them (many writers are experiencing this issue). Thanks Amazon! I hope everyone who is ordering the book will get it before Christmas.
Waterstones, despite being sent great reviews from local and national press, are still not stocking the book - so I would advise all potential buyers to get it online or from small independent bookshops, who actually support local writers and do care about books (rather than just making money).
I have today finished a major edit of my TV novel. So now, I can start work on a Children's Version of A Cat Called Dog - that should be fun! I just have to edit the first book really and simplify some language. The characters will stay as they are - though the dialogue will be trimmed, and put in more Standard English maybe.
Many thanks for all A Cat Called Dog fans for your support and for buying the book and spreading the word! When A Cat Called Dog - the children's version - becomes more well-known, you can rightly claim that you were the first, the founding fathers, believing from the beginning!
Have a very merry Christmas everyone!
21.12.13 Thanks for Paul O'Grady and BM Creative Management for the letter! I hope you all enjoy A Cat Called Dog.
Started my plan for a children's version of A Cat Called Dog today; that will be more commercially attractive to agents/publishers - because the fact is that A Cat Called Dog (first edition) is an original book and a first - it's a cat novel! But no such category exists... So I need to create another version to 'fit in' with publisher expectations - sadly, I shall have to jettison so much good and funny material from the first version; but that A Cat Called Dog will always exist in paperback and e-book form too!
2.1.13 Thanks to Mal Pop for mentioning A Cat Called Dog on his early morning BBC Wales radio show.
Many thanks to David Bellamy for the Happy New Year email. Glad you enjoyed A Cat Called Dog!
23.1.14 I am delighted to say that I am making excellent progress with the children's version of A Cat Called Dog. I've finished the first 10 chapters now, each around 1500 words long. I've cut a lot of dialect dialogue (and extraneous dialogue), tightened things up and started the book much more quickly. I thought I would merge and combine some chapters, but I have not done that yet - just rearranged them to some start and end in new places. I must say I quite like the shorter snappy chapters - it'll look SO great when it's published (I hope by a major publisher) with pen-and-ink illustrations.
It's the type of book I would have read from age 8 or 9, (of similar difficulty of the Professor Branestawm books). I shall pitch it as a book for 8-12 year olds and above. But really, adults will adore it too!
I dislike the way so many children's books these days seem to be cartoony and dumbed down - like The Wimpy Kid. Fine, if you're writing for 6 year olds. But those of primary age should be reading something more advanced, perhaps? I notice kids' books no longer state age ranges (probably so as not to make less able readers seem inferior).
Anyway, it will be children's book for all ages! A children's book that's a grown-up read maybe?
10.2.14 I am delighted that the interest in the e-book version of A Cat Called Dog goes from strength to strength.
Also, I have now completed the children's version of A Cat Called Dog - which is over 10,000 words shorter than the published version and has 21 (not 23) chapters. Simplified dialogue, a snappier start, tightened up everything - it reads really well. I shall be sending copies of the first 30 pages of the MS + a synopsis to 6-8 agents this or next month.
I am so pleased when people contact me - by email or Twitter - to say how refreshing they find A Cat Called Dog. So many 'cat' books wallow in sentimental self-pity, often true-life tales of how a cat has healed someone; and then there are the fictional stories told by an animal (e.g. 'I woke up in the middle of the road and knew I needed to find a furever home etc); and then there are the ones with a spiritual theme often with angels (just awful, and not my bag at all). There are markets for all of those books, and many of them are quite badly written too. I am therefore always wellchuffed when people tell me how well written, witty, funny, imaginative and original A Cat Called Dog is. There are, it has to be said, a great many bad cat books out there...
Now, I just can't wait to hook up with a great illustrator (via a publisher) and get pen-and-ink drawings in the children's version.
I am SO HAPPY that I rejected the 4th rate illustrator who offered to do the original cover for the book - and whose ulterior motive was to claim a share of the copyright in all visual representation of the main character. I own 100% copyright - and my cover is better anyway! I can negotiate with agents, publishers, TV/film companies without a parasite attempt to leech from me. Good riddance! Some people really are sad and pathetic - but if they have no real talent, what else can they do but attempt to piggyback on others?
Writers really do have to be careful about shysters - plenty of lowlifes out there who would just love to grab a share of a writer's creation.
14.2.14 Really excited. First, I have received some brilliant emails today (can't say from who, but they are famous!) - and some real opportunities are big offered. Plus, I have now finished the children's version of A Cat Called Dog: I have the first 30 pages ready to go now, so it'll go to agents and publishers in a week or two.
I am absolutely delighted with this - it is, even though I say so myself, the funniest cat story I have ever read (and refreshingly non-schmaltzy; some cat books really are hideous in that). Now I just need to finalise the synopsis and letter.
Watch this space: great news ahead in 2014!
8th March 2014:
Nice to see the ad in The Oldie's Book Supplement. Also The Cat ads will be running soon.
Meanwhile, the children's version (the first 30 pages) is off to selected agents next week. I look forward to working with an illustrator on the kids' version and writing a sequel or three! People still keep emailing me saying how much they love the book - then characters really LIVE, they say. The public wants more - of the adventures of Dog, George, Eric and Francois. It would be great if a major publisher could give them what they want!
8th March 2014.
MANY THANKS to Ken Dodd, who was kind enough to write from Knotty Ash thanking me for his copy of A Cat Called Dog. Much appreciated.
Ken writes: "We have a dog but not a cat. A few years ago we had a cat that walked in on us. We called it Nellie because it was so dainty, and then when we gor a new dog we thought we'd better have the cat checked out at the vet's and he told us 'I've got news for you: it's a neutered tom'. So from that day its name became Herbert-Nellie. She lasted many years but we currently have a dog. Very best wishes with your book and your future writing.'
Thanks for the encouragement, Ken! Much appreciated!
27th March 2014:
Many thanks to the office of Ed Miliband for their kind letter - A Cat Called Dog is proving 'an interesting read in the office', it says. No doubt many political people will be more interested in my letter in the Daily Mail of 26 March - about the desperate need for an NHS enquiry in Wales. Funnily enough, I made Eric in the book one-eyed because my mum lost the sight in one of her eyes after a failed cataract operation in 2011- which is how I became involved in Ann Clwyd's campaign in the first place.
Thanks too to Brian May's manager from Duck productions - their email says A Cat Called Dog will be waiting for him when he gets back off tour! Musicians eh?
Lots of excellent comments on Twitter, especially from readers of A Cat Called Dog in the USA - it seems to be going down a storm there. Thank crikey for e-books!
2.4.14 Wonders will never cease - Swansea Waterstones now has 2 copies of A Cat Called Dog in stock. Well, better late than never...
16.4.14 Just received a lovely letter from Baroness Parminter (animal rights supporter). She says she hopes to read A Cat Called Dog over Easter and to pass it to her daughter too. I hope both enjoy it!
18.4.14 And now Swansea Waterstones has no copies of A Cat Called Dog in stock again - which either means they have sold the two they had on display for 3 weeks, or that they have returned the books to the publishers. Thanks for all the support and giving a local author such a chance at the start of his career, guys.
Maybe if I wrote twaddle as part of an MA in creative writing at the local uni I'd be considered a 'proper' writer by you guys, eh?
Of course, the wonderful Cover to Cover bookshop in Mumbles has several copies of A Cat Called Dog on sale, and sells a good few too. That won't be forgotten either.
I think small independent bookshops (I mean REAL independents, not small Uplands Bookshops chains) are the way to go really - and I shall always shop with them rather than the big chains now - which I shall avoid. SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL, YEAH!
2.5.14 TheDailyMews.com has put an article of mine explaining how I wrote A Cat Called Dog on the author interview pages of its site. It has received hundrport into the NHS complaints pro://www.thedailymews.com/lifestyle/book-and-product-reviews/interviews-with-authors/1252-jem-vanston-author-of-a-cat-called-dog
2.5.14 Also glad to report that I have been asked by Cats Protection magazine The Cat to write a piece for their magazine's PAWS FOR THOUGHT section. Onwards and upwards!
24 May 2014
Flew back from Florence yesterday. Italy was as wonderful as ever! Great to visit places I'd never been before too (the Vasari Corridor at the Uffizi; Siena and San Gimignano; Florence La Specola Natural History Museum et al).
Florence now has a copy of A Cat Called Dog in its main library too - the lady there was delighted when I delivered a copy (now different from the casual and dismissive response of similar UK institutions).
Honey and Bumble were good when I was away, not going missing at all - probably stayed close to home because of the rainy weather! And because they know that is where the two-legs feed 'em cat food and Dreamies!
I now have the two hand-painted tiles of cats - ATTENZIONE AI GATTI - hanging on the wall in the living room too! Very nice!
25 May 2014
I have just received my copy of The Cat (Cats Protection's magazine which goes to all its many thousands of members). My advert for A Cat Called Dog looks great in there. I have now started the 700 word Paws for Thought article they have asked me to write too - I think it'll be about cats and the weather! I'm making it a funny and light read - with just a little mention of my book (too much and it would be an advertorial).
I am very much looking forward to meeting 2 agents on 20 June at the Winchester Writing Festival too. I'd love to see A Cat Called Dog as an illustrated children's (9-12 years) book, which would also be a cross-over book. But I refuse to dumb it down to Wimpy Kid levels - I shall always insist on keeping proper sentences, as in Alice in Wonderland or Professor Branestawm. If less able kids struggle with it, then they should get better at reading, and try again! They should wise up; I shall not dumb down. End of.
25.5.14 Up at 5am this morning and finished the first draft of the article for The Cat. Then went to Carmarthen Flea Market and bought some wonderful cat tiles at £1 each and a Walter Bosse bronze cat bottle opener for only £11! And a bronze/copper cat ornament for only £12! The only question is now: where to put them! We have a small house and a lot of stuff...
13.6.14 Nice to see the ad in The Cat magazine. My Paws for Thought article will be in the Winter edition.
I also have an article 'Missing, Presumed Dead' in Your Cat magazine - I think in August 2014. They pay folding money too...
Looking forward now to Winchester Writers' Festival on 20th June, especially meeting 2 top agents.
16.6.14 I'm getting a great response from all over the world (on Twitter etc) to my short story Tusk, now published on the Care For The Wild website:
It seems to have struck a chord. I'm getting a lot of compliments about my versatility as a writer - what with A Cat Called Dog (the cat lovers' version and the coming children's version), the darkly satirical novel Crump (and the new one on the TV industry 'Rasmus' on the way), my prize-winning short stories on Prague (The Prague Violin especially, and The Hand, published in the British Czech and Slovak Magazine this month).
I shall happily accept compliments where they come and from whomsoever they come!
I have always admire versatile writers. For example, Roald Dahl could write brilliantly sinister short stories for adults, as well as wickedly funny children's books. Paul Gallico could write The Snow Goose, cat books, kids' book and The Poseidon Adventure!!! These are my role models as a writer.
30.6.14 I enjoyed my time at the Winchester Writers' Festival very much on 19th and 20th June. A very useful Masterclass on Hooking your Reader in writing for children. Two 15 minute meetings with agents, one of whom requested a full manuscript. So worth going - my first writers' festival too, and my first visit to Winchester too - great cathedral with funky stained glass window too - and Izaac Walton (The Compleat Angler) buried in the fishing chapel.
5.7.14 Lovely to see A Cat Called Dog on TV again on Wednesday 2 July - albeit as part of an ITV Wales report on my response to the conclusions of the NHS Wales complaints system report (I was involved in Ann Clwyd's English one last year).
But hey - I have seen my book on TV, watched by 220,000 people! You don't get that with amateurish and badly written free local lifestyle magazines (which most people don't read anyway). TV and radio are the way to go.
I look forward to more interviews on both, and really am not fazed by them at all any more. Getting to be an old hand at them now really! Fame eh? Bring it on!
14.8.14 Lovely to see my article 'Missing, Presumed Fed' in Your Cat magazine for September 2014. The title is from chapter 2 page 13 of A Cat Called Dog - so it's a shame the magazine couldn't mention that! The editor did promise to mention the book - and a short article opposite mine does just that for another author (for her e-book novel). But I have asked for a mention in October's edition instead - so that would be OK.
Looking forward to delivering copies of A Cat Called Dog to London next month. Also looking forward to agent responses re the children's version - I'd love to see that version illustrated and published. I am sure it would sell loads! And its sequels (which I have planned).
6.9.14 A great and positive response to my article A Cat Called Fed in Your Cat magazine - and a lovely review in there too from Pauline at TheDailyMews.com who has also commissioned me to write a Christmas story featuring characters from the novel (George, Dog, Eric, Francois, Miss Fifi) - and there'll be kittens too.
Looking forward to seeing my 'expert advice' piece on The Guardian Online Fixology page soon - advice about grooming cats.
My birthday tomorrow (YahBoo...)and off to London next week for 4 days - to visit museums (War, London, Natural History), see two great shows (Matilda and KATE BUSH on Friday 12th), eat Chinese food and deliver some copies of A Cat Called Dog to selected individuals. Weather looks like being luverly!
14 September 2014. I had a lovely time in London for 3 days - and delivered 25 copies of A Cat Called Dog to some lucky customers! Copies in the Natural History Museum members' room now too. Met some cartoonists too - really good at doing cats (unlike most commercial artists, esp those in Swansea!). Looking forward to the children's version getting published in 2015. Plus my TV novel Rasmus is finally close to being in shape - I shall send that soon to agents, and have been told they will definitely be interested by 3 professional authors. The first 10 pages of the book will sell it.
30 September 2014: Lovely to see some more great reviews for A Cat Called Dog and a real fan base developing - and internationally too! NEXT UP: my Christmas Story featuring A Cat Called Dog's favourite characters for TheDailyMews.com.
Here is my article for The Guardian online too (my tips for grooming work well in theory; in practice, some cats just won't let you groom them. Mentioning no names....BUMBLE!
19 October 2014. I am delighted to say I have now finished my A Cat Called Dog at Christmas short story commission for TheDailyMews.com. That'll be up on the website in December.
Also, I shall be in the December edition of Your Cat and my piece on cats and weather (Nice Weather for Cats) will be in Cats Protection magazine (The Cat) for Winter 2014.
Plus, Talk Radio Europe, a fab radio station serving southern Spain and Gibraltar (with a great bookshow hosted by the ever-wonderful Hannah Murray) will be recording my poem 'Santa Goes on Strike' for their Christmas broadcasts! That's a first for me and I can't wait to hear what they do with the fun little poem I wrote 2 or 3 years ago during the postal strike and when severe cold weather meant the post was not delivered in time for Christmas (2012? 2011?)
12 December 2014.
Well, my articles 'Nice Weather for Cats' is in the Winter edition of the Cats Protection magazine, The Cat. Plus, my ad is in Your Cat and A Cat Called Dog is also featured in the gift guide.
I dropped a few copies of A Cat Called Dog (signed) into the Cats Protection Bry-y-Mor Road shop in Swansea too - to make some money to help look after Swansea cats and kittens!
Looking forward now to the new A Cat Called Dog Christmas story on the website TheDailyMews.com. And planning to write a sequel in the New Year. The children's version of A Cat Called Dog - with illustrations - will be published in 2015. It's all go! Hoorah! Thanks goodness I retained copyright and didn't let that evil nasty magazine editor in Swansea steal my characters' copyright. I hope A Cat Called Dog grows and grows to international success - and would pay folding money to see the look on Greedy Lesley's mean little piglet face when it does! LOL!
18.12.14 A Cat Called Dog at Christmas is now live online with WONDERFUL illustrations by a professional and excellent artist, Frances Gilloti (Irish, but in the US for 30 years): http://perezhilton.com/teddyhilton/2013-12-12-stray-cats-take-over-brooklyn-nativity-manger-scene-cute-funny#.VJKAT41ybIU
Glad to announce that the children's illustrated version of A Cat Called Dog will be published in 2015 - I have just signed a contract with a London publisher.
I shall also be writing the sequel to A Cat Called Dog in the New Year - it's already planned and 'written in my head', with new characters, including the 3 kittens who feature in the Christmas story plus two film star American cats.
Merry Cat-Mas and a Happy New Purr to all my readers and the growing ailurophile army of fans of A Cat Called Dog!
Great news re my poem Sants Goes on Strike being read on TalkRadioEurope on 24 December - interest now from publishers. Also, now A Cat Called Dog is with a London publisher. And my adult novel Rasmus with agents. Onwards and upwards.
22.1.15 I am delighted that TheDailyMews.com is featuring another one of my articles, this time on Cats and Weather.
Preparing the edited children's version of A Cat Called Dog for publication now, plus always with an eye/mind on the sequel. I have some really wonderful characters planned for that. I just need to clarify a few things in my head before starting that one - and then I shall start writing - and probably the thing will write itself, like it did last time. I really look forward to the illustrated children's version and the sequel being a success.
Also preoccupied with thoughts of my dark satirical novel 'Rasmus' which is with agents, and also a couple of other children's books. All while running a busy small business and being a carer. So it's all go here!
1st February 2015
VERY exciting getting illustrations sorted for my children's version of A Cat Called Dog. Also looking through all the notes, often in scraps of paper, I have made about the sequel - and I have that planned in my head to write in one go in 2 weeks when the time comes.
I have chosen a photo for the cover and an artist will draw it - such a pretty kitty!
19.2.15 Just finalised the proofs for the illustrated version of A Cat Called Dog, and look forward to seeing the cover as drawn by the Austin Macauley illustrator. Well it couldn't be worse than the amateurish effort by the 4th rate illustrator who did the first cover (which I rejected as being too poor quality) in 2012/13 and whose plan was to steal the copyright of the book's characters. Foiled that plot, thank goodness, and told the scumbag to sling his hook and get back to his mediocre advert agency work. The cover I designed myself was MUCH better anyway!
The world is full of scumbags unfortunately - and these ugly nasty spiteful greedy selfish people will be the models for villains in my future books (and I am legally free to do that - SO THERE!)
Anyway, it's all moving quickly - and the children's version of A Cat Called Dog will be out later this year (with a big marketing push in London - AM are based in Canary Wharf - and let's hope they can get something in Metro etc which they have managed for other books). The sequel is written in my head. Just need a free month to write the 40,000 words.
Then on with 2 other children's books and 1 adult novellas. Never short of ideas here... Just struggle to find time to write what with running a small online business full-time (which makes great money) and caring for my elderly mother (I would never dump her in a home).
22.2.15 Glad to see that my first novel Crump has now sold out! Zero copies left in stock. Still selling on e-books and used a lot for teaching in colleges and universities in the UK, Scandinavia (esp Norway) and north America (esp Canada). It is STILL the only novel which dares to expose the issue of Islamic extremism on UK university campuses and the blind eye turned to it by 'politically correct', diversity-worshipping, cultural-relativist university managers and academics. The model for the fictional university in the book was the uni in south-east London where the radicalised African-British killers of Lee Rigby went for 2 years. That is fact following fiction in a rather disturbing way. RIP Lee Rigby.
22.2.15 Finalising the scenes in A Cat Called Dog to illustrate now. Choosing action scenes. Probably there'll be a 'cast list' at the beginning of the book with all the characters and names. I reread this book when selecting the scenes and have to say that I still absolutely adore it - especially the strong characters, with Eric the star! I have already planned the sequel in my head - I shall write it when I have a free 3 or 4 weeks. @2000 words a day, 40,000 words takes 20 days and the sequel may well be 25000-35000 too. I wrote the first book in 27 days @2000 words a day. When you've already written the book in your head, that's possible. Sadly, with my 'adult' novel, that has never worked - and I have done 2 big rewrites of my TV novel. Oh well...
10 March 2015. Very much looking forward to my photoshoot tomorrow with top photographer (for Swansea City FC no less) Dimitris. We'll get some shots for the children's version of A Cat Called Dog, plus some more general shots - and some Je Suis Charlie statement shots.
24.3.15 Wonderful photos as usual by Dimitis Legakis - brilliant author photos (and for a bargain fee!) And to think, a local shyster tried to get £50 out of me to take a few snaps of me standing in a local park! There are amateurs and then there are professionals; I will always go with the latter and let the former publish silly self-published shopping magazines which no-one ever reads (and what a waste of trees!)
24.3.15 Getting the new illustrations approved for the kids' version of A Cat Called Dog - basic but fine. And they'll work on a small scale, so not much point doing too much detail.
So busy here with the business doing so well and making money (can't be bad!) But when the business gets quiet in June, I shall write the sequel to A Cat Called Dog (the first took 28 days; and as I have this planned in my head, it shouldn't take too long either).
After that, I shall start work on other projects: my novella set in the USA all about race (my version of Faust really); then 2 children's books, one about dinosaurs; then another drama about a psycho-stalker vengeful woman targeting and defaming an innocent man aided by corrupt police. Should be fun!
And next year, my now finished novel, the dark satire 'Rasmus - a television tale', will be out - on e-book initially, and maybe paperback. Publisher interest now from 4 places. This book will make waves at the BBC and in the TV industry, I am sure.
Onwards and upwards!
19.4.15 Now seen the lovely cartoon-y illustrations for the kids' version A Cat Called Dog. They'll work so well on half a page when published.
Also so looking forward to writing the sequel in the summer; way too busy for the last few months, making lots of money via running my own small business. Can't complain really though!
When I have time in the summer, I shall focus on that sequel PLUS other books (on race, police corruption, and much else besides).
Looking forward to going to Rome in early May, and going on daytrips to Pompeii + Naples, and other places. I certainly need a break!
28.4.15 Got stopped in the street this morning by someone who bought a copy of A Cat Called Dog and told me it was a 'very clever book'! Fantastic!
Very much looking much forward to my holiday in Rome. I have been commissioned by Your Cat magazine to write an article (with photos) of a cat sanctuary there - and they'll pay me a reasonable fee too (unlike the scumbag users who run profit-making publications and expect contributions from writers for free - I hope life treats them very badly in future to show them what greedy selfish nasty vile pieces of work they are!). I only write for a fee - unless I am writing for charity of promoting my books. That is because I am a decent human being (unlike the scumbag users in this business!)
Anyway, the fee from YourCat will pay for several evening meals in Italian and Chinese restaurants while I am in Rome. Hoorah!
17.5.15 Had a WONDERFUL time in Rome - so much to see! Lovely to visit the Rome Cat Sanctuary there - and am writing up the article for Your Cat right now (I have some great photos too!). I donated my fee from Your Cat to them (unlike the scumbag Swansea lifestyle magazine owners who greedily keep all cash to themselves despite promising me they'd donate to cat charities in lieu of my writing articles for them from 2010-12. Let's hope life bites them on the bum HARD and treats them like the mean, selfish, greedy, worthless and vile human beings they are!)
I also gave a copy of A Cat Called Dog to Rebecca, the American tour guide and the gesture was much appreciated! Rebecca showed us round the Catacombs, San Clemente church (on 4 levela) and the skeletal Franciscan museum full of bones of dead monks arranged in patterns as art and as an honour to the dead - a great way to get a more unusual taste of Rome. Bone appetite!
12.6.15 Just back from Bologna, Italy. Copies of A Cat Called Dog are now in Bologna public library and the library of Bologna University (founded in the year 1088). Just about to start the sequel now - Further Adventures of A Cat Called Dog - which I have been planning and thinking about for 2 years. It will really be SO great and SO funny! Watch this space!
25.6.15 Just heard that Your Cat will be publishing my article on the TA Rome Cat Sanctuary in the September issue, available from mid-August. I look forward to sending a copy to the ladies in Rome!
Meanwhile, I have completed four and a half chapters of the sequel to A Cat Called Dog and have it all planned out. Going REALLY well - I am giggling as I write it! The planning has clearly paid off, (I have been writing it in my head for 2 years). I should have 15 or more chapters finished by the end of July - about 30,000 word. Then I shall sleep on it for 3 weeks before rereading it and making margin notes etc.
After this, I shall start my kitten/puppy idea for a younger children's book and a Japanese animated series. Hope to visit Japan in 2016 to meet film/TV companies and pitch my characters and series! All go here, as per usual!
And the best thing is, I own FULL copyright to all my work - all text, titles, characters, concepts and ideas. I feel sorry for many writers who don't - it must be so annoying having another person or company own you...
The Daily Mews, 13 December
Your Cat Magazine September 2014
The Daily Mews, 13 May
The Daily Mews, 28 April
South Wales Evening Post
Sa2 Magazine, Swansea
South Wales Evening Post
National ITV News
Ok, so there are some rather farfetched moments in this book and the style of writing is a bit limited but the charm and humour that fills every page makes it such an enjoyable read that any flaws are totally forgivable. Getting a glimpse of the inner workings of the cat kingdom and realising that all cat kind think we are an inferior species in need of their constant company and guidance is hilarious and completely plausible. My only problem with this book would be to try and work out who you would market it for. When I came across it to review on Netgalley it stated it was a teen title and I can't see that many teens actively picking up such a book to buy. But I don't think it's quite suitable for anyone younger because of the use of descriptive language, philosophical outlooks on life and a little bit of the content. But put it in the pet department in a bookstore alongside such titles as Paw Tracks in the Moonlight or The World According to Bob and I know it would do very well! Any cat lover with a good sense of humour can appreciate what Vanston was trying to accomplish and find themselves grinning throughout as they read about the habits of their cats explained so perfectly. Do not take this book seriously. Enjoy it for the great laugh it is. For all those little habits you've noticed in your cat that's had you pausing in thought, wondering over what they are thinking as they turn their nose up the tray of food that seemed so perfectly acceptable to eat the night before, or if that look they just gave you was meant to say what you think it said. I loved it. I'm sure any other cat lover will too.
by NetGalley review
I read this entire short novel with my mouth set in a permanent smile. I bet I looked like a freak, grinning like the village idiot; but trust me when I tell you it’s nearly impossible to read this cute little story without smiling the whole time or laughing out loud at the snark and puns so generously sprinkled throughout A Cat Called Dog. The title alone had me grinning!
Two things I noticed right away. The first is that it’s very much written in the fashion of Roald Dahl’s books, and secondly, for some strange reason I had Neil Gaiman narrating the story for me in my head. Go figure!
The characters each have their own distinct personalities, quirks and traits, and easily made their way into my heart. From George the sophisticated old ginger tom, Francois the well-traveled, refined tabby with a French accent, Eric the “un-heducated” stray, to a she-cat called Fifi. With their personalities at opposite ends of the spectrum, the laughs just kept coming. And, of course, the star of the show: Dog – a little kitten-cat who wags his tail when he’s happy, pokes his tongue out puppy-fashion, and whose brave is much bigger than he is. Together, this ragtag group of felines sets about to save the day, and in the process become the best of friends.
A Cat Called Dog is a delightfully charming read suitable for both cat- and dog lovers of all ages. It also makes for a wonderful bedtime story for younger readers. For the novice cat-person, this book can serve as a guide jam-packed with interesting cat facts and tidbits, albeit in the form of an entertaining story. I highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for an uplifting read that will brighten up their day and leave them with a different perspective on people (or two-legs, as humans are referred to in this little gem) and life in general, through the eyes of a feline. Though the story itself merits a four-star rating only, the author’s knowledge of cat behavior ups the aforementioned rating to a well-deserved five stars, which makes this a definite must-read!
by NetGalley review
Say you’re a cat. Not just any cat, but a cat raised by dogs, so…you think you’re a dog! You bark in a cat like way; you wag your tail, not when you’re angry, like most cats, but when you’re happy! Now say you leave that house and happen upon an old tom who has a home, and who decides to help you by teaching you to become a cat. So begins this delightful, well written short novel, A Dog Named Cat. Anyone who has ever owned a cat will relish the cat wisdom, the satire on humans, and the rich play with puns.
by NetGalley review
This is a lovely, sweet, heartwarming book. It will make you happy to read it, regardless of whether you're a cat person or a dog person, or even neither. And in these financially-straitened times, what more could you want?’
‘This is a story for cat-lovers everywhere. It's full of funny and accurate details that will strike a chord with any cat owner.’
‘And I defy you not to smile. It's just lovely.’
by (Jill Murphy, Thebookbag.co.uk)
‘The book’s charming – it’s lovely...’
‘Really witty, entertaining and not just for cat lovers.’
by (Louise Elliott, BBC Radio Wales 28.8.13)
“I found myself laughing out loud at some of Dog’s antics and his character reminded me of a young child caught up in the excitement of life.”
“There are adventures, wonderful characters to meet on the way and also unexpected sadness – very much like true life really.”
“I read many books thoroughly enjoyed this one, from cover to cover.”
by Cat World Magazine,
As a cat person and lover, this book immediately drew my attention. I was very excited to have the opportunity to review it. First of all, the author does a wonderful job at capturing a cat's mannerisms and characteristics. It's hard to completely describe and pinpoint an animal's actions, especially a cat's, so the fact that the author managed to do so shows that the author spent a great deal of time researching cats and watching them. This book will definitely provide readers with a smile and several laughs. It was incredibly enjoyable to read, especially for animal people. A quick, light read, this book is for the reader who is looking for something different and for those who love their cats.'
by NetGalley Review
Oh the adorableness!!! I don't think I've ever read cuter, funnier story than this.
A Cat Named Dog is a perfect book for all ages. At first it only seems like entertaining reflections on cats (and their thoughts on humans). Honestly that probably would have been enough to me because the fluffiness distracted me from other needs in a book. But if you do need a plot - give this book time and you'll get a surprisingly action-packed storyline with plenty of crafty plotting on the cats' parts.
There's an ensemble cast, primarily of cats, and have I mentioned yet how much I love ensemble casts (oh I dunno...only A BILLION TIMES). There's Dog - a strange adolescent cat that has the mannerisms of a dog, George - a loveable old ginger tom who has decided to take Dog under his tutelage, and Eric - a hilarious stray, and Francois - a cat who has traveled all over the world. These are the cats that make up the main cast. They are joined by The Lady, who is George's two legs and who he absolutely adores, as well as The Man (who absolutely does NOT have The Lady's best interests at heart!) Not only must the cats help teach Dog how to act like a cat, they must save The Lady from The Man's dastardly plans!
But sorry, I got on a personal tangent. Here's why you should read this book: It's adorable. It's about cats. It's very insightful about both cats and humans. It's hilarious. It's clever. YOU DON'T NEED ANOTHER REASON, JUST GO READ IT. Especially since the author mentioned in the intro that he would potentially write more books about the cats if interest was shown! So go show interest! I want more cat books! (And if they aren't about Dog and George, you might break my heart Mr. Jem Vanston)
by NetGalley review
As a cat person and lover, this book immediately drew my attention. I was very excited to have the opportunity to review it. First of all, the author does a wonderful job at capturing a cat's mannerisms and characteristics. It's hard to completely describe and pinpoint an animal's actions, especially a cat's, so the fact that the author managed to do so shows that the author spent a great deal of time researching cats and watching them. This book will definitely provide readers with a smile and several laughs. It was incredibly enjoyable to read, especially for animal people. A quick, light read, this book is for the reader who is looking for something different and for those who love their cats.
by Review from NetGalley
I requested this book from NetGalley because it looked like a super cute book about cats -- and that's exactly what it turned out to be!
The great things about A Cat Called Dog:
- The narration was lighthearted and humorous, told with what I can only describe as that distinct British storytelling flair. Think Harry Potter, but it's about cats instead of people. I could easily see this book made into a cartoon for children.
- The story was utterly CAT. I mean, it's clear that this author knows a lot about cats, and so I found myself nodding with agreement or giggling at the cuteness all throughout the story. If you want to learn the mysteries of cat life, read this book.
- The characterization was quite well-done. Each cat (and two-legs) was well-developed and had a distinct attitude and voice. Some of these did seem a bit overdone (I'm looking at you, Francois), but this also made it easy to know and appreciate each of them.
- The writing was cute and distinctive -- full of punny cat terms (cat-astrophe, purr-fect, etc.). This lent an hair of whole-ness to the story, but could sometimes get to be a bit much.
The problems I had with A Cat Called Dog:
- Though it was cute and distinctive, it had a tendency to feel like TOO MUCH. Like, after a while I just had to skip through all the French-cat-speak coming out of Francios, and roll my eyes at all the cat puns.
- It felt a bit wordy. Thought this is probably true of that narration style I mentioned as a good, thing, it can also drag a story down. As light and fun as the book was, I found that it took me way longer to read it than it should have, because I had to keep coming up for air.
- I couldn't figure out who the target audience was supposed to be. Obviously, this feels and (mostly) reads like a children's story, but there's no way a kid would sit through a story this long. Some of the themes were more adult, as well, leading to my confusion. I read a comment from the author stating that this book was intended for adults, but if that is the case, then I really think the narration style and punny-ness needs to be toned down.
Though I did have a few issues with this book, it was overall a pretty fun read. I'd perhaps recommend it to cat-lovers who don't mind reading children's stories and have some time to kill.
by NetGalley review
Born in Kent but now living in South Wales, Jem Vanston is a teacher, freelance features journalist, and owns and runs an online editing agency too.
He also writes satirical novels and short stories under the name PJ Vanston.
His first novel was called 'Crump' (2010) and his short story 'The Prague Violin' won prizes in two international short story competitions.
He lives in Swansea, obedient servant to two rescue cats, Honey and Bumble.