"I’m often asked what inspired me to write my children’s book series, Toto the Ninja Cat. I love broadacatsing but writing is something I love to do as well and I’ve written stories ever since I was little when I used to type up detective stories on my dad’s old computer and use all his paper printing them out. I’d make them into little books and try and sell them to the neighbours. I wasn’t very successful!
I really enjoyed the process of writing The Soundtrack to My Life a few years ago and then, when my wife and I got a couple of cats who we rescued as strays from Italy, I just had this idea for a story.
We have this little place in Puglia in Italy. Its in the middle of nowehere – wild countryside and when we first got there we had a lots of rats. Then this cat took up residence – we called her Plaxy after one of our guests – and she was more stray than feral so you could stroke her, but you couln’t really pick her up. But as time went on, she got more tame and ended up sleeping on our bed which we loved.
Then we went back there about six years ago and Plaxy was heavily preganant. I had to come back a day early for work but my wife Dee facetimed me to tell me Plaxy was having her kittens right there and then – in our room, and specifically in my pillowcase!
We were going to get a dog that year but then we had these four kittens and Dee had stayed up all night, doing this deft pieces of cat midwidery. So we took two of the kittens and our neighbours took the other two. We had the firstborn, Silver, and also Toto, the runt of the litter. Our friends first looked after them out there in Italy and eventually we got them back home to London where we live.
We worked out quite quickly that Toto couldn’t really see that well. We took her to the vet and found that she had no red blood cells in her eyes. The camera is there, but there’s no film in it so she can see breaks in light but not much else.
But we noticed that Toto had lightning fast reactions; if you were playing around she could just lash out with her claws, super swift. I thought this would make a lovely idea for a book: that there’s this cat that is a lovely, mild-mannered kitten during the day – and then a Ninja by night!
Like a lot of cat owners, we like to imagine our pets having secret lives when we’re out or asleep. Before I knew it, I was imagining Toto and her brother Silver’s nocturnal adventures.