Author: Scott Alexander Young, with illustrations by Moreno Chisté
Page count: 80
Genre: Children’s literature
Price: $5.95 USD
The author of The Wild Cats of Piran, Scott Alexander Young is a television scriptwriter, travel writer and actor living in Budapest, Hungary. Scott is the creator and writer of Max’s Midnight Movies now showing on AXN in Central Europe, and rolling out soon for worldwide distribution. In Max’s Midnight Movies, a geeky but cool hostess presents scenes from old sci-fi, horror and monster movies. Many of these films were once considered trash, but now they have genuine historical value. Each and every half hour episode of the show has a different theme, from ‘Teenage Angst in Outer Space’ to ‘Fangs for the memories’. As an actor Scott usually plays ‘heavies’, such as a KGB spy in mini series The Company (2007) and a medieval lawman in World Without End (2012). He demonstrates his lighter side as the Presenter of ‘historical reality’ show The Medieval Trip, showing VOD across the Orange Network. Born in New Zealand by mistake in the late 60s, Scott has in his time written guidebooks to Kraków, Florence, Buenos Aires and the Lebanon.)
Tell us about your book:
Europe’s most magical cats battle for their nine lives! In this first chronicle, the wild cats encounter the ghosts of Piran – and the wicked General Rat! Join the beautiful Queen Felicia, faithful warrior Dragan and the feral feline family for nine tales of adventure and enchantment. The Wildcats of Piran are a colony of smart, courageous if also rather lazy feral cats that live in a small seaside town on the Adriatic. Indeed, Piran is a kind of miniature ‘Slovenian Venice’: a serene, forgotten place – at least in the eyes of most humans. Every day, the wild cats work the tables of the restaurants along the seafront promenade, hunting for scraps; and the pickings are rich. There’s one nasty, cat-hating Maitre’D to contend with, but the wild cats toy with him. Life is good in Piran.
In the animal realm, and in the sphere of the supernatural, things are rather different. In the summer which our story begins, there are strange forces at work in this genteel town. For one thing, Piran’s rats have become mysteriously evolved lately, and are mobilizing under their leader, the sinister ‘General Rat’. As well as the newly formed rat army, there is an Alsatian dog and worse, meddling and incompetent humans to deal with. Can Felicia hold her clan together, against all odds, or is their idyllic way of life doomed to extinction? The answers, some of them anyway, are in the first set of nine tales bound to please literary cat lovers of all ages.
How long did it take to write the book?
The idea had been forming in my mind for some time before I sat down to write The Wild Cats of Piran. When I finally sat down to write it I suppose it was a little less than two months to write two chronicles, the first of which went on sale at the end of November.
What inspired you to write the book?
It was a few years ago now while on holiday in Istria on the border of Italy and Slovenia, that the idea came to me. I was sitting down to lunch with an agreeable companion, a carafe of quaffable white wine and a seafood platter at a waterfront restaurant in Piran, a sleepy little fishing village that had once been a Venetian outpost. (You can see statues with the lion of Venice about the place.) In any case, as I was enjoying my lunch, I noticed not one, not two but rather three cats “working the tables” beneath, fetching scraps of food as they fell from above. It came to me in one long, lucid moment. These cats could be part of a gang (or colony as a group of feral cats are called) and they would have all kinds of adventures in the town, not least with the ghost of Giuseppe Tartini, the diabolical violinist whose statue graces the main market square. Thus, The Wild Cats of Piran, a series of children’s books was born.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I am a professional writer and have been for some time, so my writing routine was as usual, which is to say at all kinds of strange hours. Other than that, I spent time in Piran, and did quite a bit of research on the town’s history. I also read up on Slovenian folklore and fairy tales. For the rest, I used my imagination.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
Well, curiosity to see what happens in chronicles two and three. Aside from that, the kind of contented feeling that comes spending a day in a snug armchair with a book of classic children’s literature.
Where can we go to buy your book?
The Amazon page: http://tinyurl.com/brycgtt
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
For updates on the wild cats and their adventures, including future chronicles, please go to http://thewildcatsofpiran.com
Excerpt from book:
CHAPTER ONE, ‘QUEEN IN THE MOONLIGHT’
Introducing two of the most important personages of the wild cats of Piran, and two of their greatest adversaries.
It was an absolutely still night in a little seaside place called Piran, sometime in the recent past, the present day, the near future, or just before.
A cat with a midnight blue coat, as smooth as a silk top hat, tipped along the highest point of the old city walls. This cat’s name was Felicia, and she was perhaps the boldest and doubtless the most dashing of a legendary band of feline fatales they call ‘The wild cats of Piran’. These walls were the highest possible vantage point in all of Piran, unless of course you were a bird. Felicia pulled herself up to her full height to survey the little town, which was made up of old stone houses with whitewashed walls and terracotta roofs, a few medieval churches, a couple of little piazzas and one main one.
It was a serene, picture-perfect place surrounded by cypress and olive-tree covered hills, facing out over the Adriatic Sea. More and more, to the cat named Felicia, the old town of Piran had become everything to her; every place she had ever been, or would ever go. As time went by, Felicia found it harder to remember much from her childhood and early lives in Naples. Just occasionally she would have a sense memory of the delicious odours of the Fish Markets on a summer’s day. Or she would recall the Neapolitan slang words her childhood friends had taught her, and her eyes would turn a different shade.
In this world where appearances are so terribly over-important, Felicia was rather a surprising sort of stray cat. After all, she was so elegant and graceful. She was a Oriental short-haired cat, with a deep and intense gaze that could take your breath away, and eyes, they said, that ‘sparkled like dewdrops on a lotus leaf.’ Sitting up straight as she was now, she looked like an Egyptian statue, an immortal. As well as great beauty and charisma, she had extraordinary powers of hearing, sight and scent. She could sometimes be a bit of a show-off about all this, but who could really blame her? One could easily imagine any number of humans wanting to adopt Felicia; to pet her and proudly have her sit on their laps, kneading her claws into their skirts or trousers. But Felicia had tried living with humans more than once before. As she put it:
“That relationship was not always successful – especially for them.”