It is my pleasure to have Vickie Johnstone on my blog today. I call her my "It Girl" because she has it going on! She has self-published 14 books, ranging from kids’ stories about cats and pizza zombies to adult horror (zombies again), YA fantasy and a comedy starring a swearing dog. But it all began with a little cat called Kiwi who inspired a whole furry series. Vickie’s first book, Kiwi in Cat City, was written in 2002, but no one read it until she discovered self-publishing in 2011. Since then she has written 12 books and published a collection of very old poetry. She is currently finishing book 2 in her adult zombie series, I Dream of Zombies.
GIVEAWAY - If you would like to receive a free ebook of Kiwi in Cat City, just tell me in the comments why you’d like to read it. Everyone will receive a copy and the best comment will get an additional surprise from Vickie.
About the Kiwi Series (6 books)
The adventures of a magical cat and her friends (for readers aged 9-14 and adults too). Have you ever wished your cat could talk or wondered where he/she goes when you are not around? Kiwi in Cat City is the first book in the Kiwi Series, of which there are six fun adventures so far. Kiwi seems like a typical moggie, content to nap in the sun, but she has a secret – she is a magical cat from a place called Cat City. With her two humans, James and Amy, Kiwi finds mysteries and adventures, dealing with catnappings, jewel thieves, giant mice, time travel, haunted houses, Father Christmas, pyramids and more. The fun stories contain positive messages about loyalty, friendship, honesty, bullying and the power of standing together. The books contain illustrations by the super talented Nikki McBroom.
Excerpt from Kiwi in Cat City (copyright Vickie Johnstone)
“What’s the plan?” asked Amy.
“I think we’ll start by going over the same ground as last night and see where that takes us,” said Kiwi.
“Back to the alleyway,” gulped James. “Isn’t that dangerous?”
“We haven’t got that bungling idiot Paws with us,” said Kiwi, “so that should help us a lot. If we run into any trouble, I can give the inspector a buzz on my catpad.”
The kittens looked at each other and shrugged.
Amy decided to pretend she was a heroine like Catwoman, and James imagined he was James Bond. Yeah, now what would he do? He’d never be scared.
An hour later, the three cats were back at the scene of the last night’s shenanigans.
“Yesterday Amy suggested that there might be another way out,” said Kiwi. “That got me thinking that there could be something in that. Let’s check the place where we came out.”
“But how will we find it in the dark?” asked James.
“We can use another sense that is stronger in cats – smell!” said Kiwi, wiggling her nose. “As cats, you might have noticed that your sense of smell has improved quite a bit.”
This was true. Amy had noticed that her brother was much smellier than normal, and not because he had forgotten to change his socks for a couple of days. Cats don’t wear socks anyway. He had to take them off, even when he got cold, because he just looked too weird. Have you ever seen a cat wearing socks? Nope, neither have I.
The kittens followed as Kiwi pursued an invisible trail of scent from the alleyway, round the side of the building, behind some trees and up to a small cat-flap at the base of a high, stone wall.
“Here we are,” grinned Kiwi. “This appears to be the exit from our speedy little ride last night. What do you two budding detectives think we should do next?”
“Have a look inside,” they said shyly.
“Ok,” said Kiwi, pushing at the flap with her nose. It wouldn’t push inwards, so she hooked a claw underneath the bottom of the metal flap and pulled it outwards, wriggling her head underneath and into the gap beyond. A rush of cold air blew back her whiskers. The two kittens crawled under her belly. Inside, a long, smooth chute wound its way upwards as far as they could see, higher and higher. The gap between the two edges of the chute was about the same size as a cat’s body.
The two kittens looked at Kiwi.
On her face was a big smile. They knew what she was thinking. Oh no!
“Okay guys, we’re going up!”
“What?” they cried. “How?” They stared up the slippery chute, which wound its way up into darkness. Gulp.
“Where’s your sense of adventure?” asked Kiwi. “You just need to hold on to my tail.”
“You’re crazy,” said Amy.
“Yes, well, it has been mentioned…”
“What if we accidentally let go?” cried James.
“You’ll get a nice, long slide all the way down.”
Kiwi prepared herself for the climb by doing a few cat stretches; pointing her bum in the air, stretching her paws, craning her neck. Yes, fully prepared for action. She lay across the width of the chute and hooked her paws on either side, her claws gripping into the sides, with her belly suspended in the middle. A rush of cold air whizzed down, making her fur stand up on end. “Now, you two hold on to my tail and, whatever you do, don’t let go and don’t look down.”
The long climb began slowly, but Kiwi soon gathered momentum and the strange journey sped up. In the dark, they could feel a draught of cold air coming down from the top of the chute, passing under their bellies and making their fur stand on end. Nearer and nearer they moved to the top, higher and higher, Kiwi squinting in the dark. They were climbing the inside of a narrow, stone shaft, and the chute travelled straight down the middle of it like a curly straw.
Clinging to the walls were cobwebs, upon which tiny black spiders busily spun their little homes, and scurried back and forth. Higher and higher they went. Amy and James clung on tightly and were careful not to look down. Higher and higher. Then Kiwi stopped. To the right was a ledge that appeared to lead off to a doorway in the wall.
“Take a look at that,” said Kiwi, breathing hard.
“Eh,” muttered Amy and James, who simultaneously looked down and then seriously regretted it. Ahhhhhh.
Suspended in the air by a furry tail.
“No, not there,” said Kiwi. “Look there! A door!” She gripped on tightly, as the kittens wiggled on her tail. She clenched her teeth.
Slowly, the kittens opened their eyes and peeked at the ledge. Great – solid ground! But there was a gap and a long, long way down! They gritted their teeth: “We’re not… are we?”
“Where’s your sense of adventure?” asked Kiwi.
Amy looked at James, who looked at Amy, who looked at James. They both sighed. When you’re suspended halfway up a stone shaft across a slippery chute, hanging on to someone else’s tail for your life, you’re not in a good position to argue.
“Let’s find out where that meow came from last night,” said Kiwi. “All you have to do is concentrate and remember that you are not human in this world. You’re cats, and cats are the best jumpers. Well, except for kangaroos. I think they’re the best. I met one once… well, I’m wandering off the point… to cut a long story short, I’m going to shimmy up this shaft until I’m level with this ledge, and then we are going to jump on it…”
“Bu-bu-but…” stammered the kittens.
“Ahhhhh!” they both jumped out of their skins… and, whoooosh, they flew through the air, glided and made a smooth landing on the ledge. “Wow, we did it,” they cheered, and did a little cat dance. Purr purr.
I Dream of Zombies
A sickening sense of dread ravages him as fear drifts over the surface of his skin like fingers, icy cold and unrelenting. He turns again and sprints towards the exit, his pace becoming increasingly slower as if something is pushing him back. Yet still he finds himself in the exact same position, his feet rooted to the spot, his arms sweeping, useless. His hair blows in the breath that the creature now turns on him, sickening in its putrid scent of death and putrefaction. There is not a word he can think of to describe this thing in front of him. Fear creeps, regardless. Twisting, crawling, the maggots swarm across its bloodied face as it opens its mouth wider. Something rips. The yawn seems to swallow him whole into this darkness of despair as a jagged, ripping pain overwhelms him; the sharp teeth chafing, gnawing at his neck, seeking to pierce the jugular vein within. From far off in the distance comes the ripple of laughter.
3 Heads & a Tail
There she goes... my doggy baby. She’s so fine, I wanna make her mine! That golden coat just gives me shivers. Oops, best not pull the lead. Ouch! Ben, you didn’t have to pull me back, you know. I’m not going anywhere. Yet! Just going to give you an evil stare now. Yeah, big evil stare. “Grrrr.”
Oh, he didn’t get it. He’s patting my head. Jeez. “Voof, voof, voof!” Miss Golden Coat, please turn around, just once, please. Come on Miss Poochy, do an old dog a favour and turn your lovely golden head just a little, mmm.
Oooh, Frisbee! Ben’s getting out the Frisbee! Great! Maybe I can do some really cool running and jumping, and show her how athletic and doggy manly I am.
Click goes the lead. I’m free! Detached! Come on, Ben, hurry up, throw the damn Frisbee. Yikes! There it goes. I wasn’t quite prepared for that... hmph... run ... come on legs... hffff hffff hfff... here goes – I’m jumping! Eeek! It’s quite high... higher than I thought! Is she looking? Looking? Ah, no... nooo! Where’s she going? Ack! Tree! Humpf!
About Vickie Johnstone
Vickie lives in London, UK, and works as a layout sub editor on business magazines. Her first book, Kiwi in Cat City, was written in 2002 and self-published in 2011, and she has scribbled stories and poetry all her life. Vickie’s loves include cats, reading, films, travelling, rock music, Castle, The Walking Dead, tea, the sea, dancing like an eejit, sleeping and Milky Bar.
Vickie has self-published the following 14 books: Kaleidoscope (poetry); Travelling Light (poetry); Life’s Rhythms (haiku); 3 Heads and a Tail (comedy romance with a dog, age 16 up); Kiwi in Cat City (magical cat series for middle grade readers); Kiwi and the Missing Magic; Kiwi and the Living Nightmare; Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle; Kiwi in the Realm of Ra; Kiwi’s Christmas Tail; Day of the Living Pizza (comedy detective series for young teens), Day of the Pesky Shadow, The Sea Inside (teen/YA fantasy) and I Dream of Zombies (horror). The second book in the zombie series, Haven, is currently being edited and will be out soon. The Kiwi Series contains illustrations by the amazing Nikki McBroom.