How cute is this kitten? It's not Squishy McFluff, it's Minnie, who we owned for all of six hours before realising that Ruby had quite a severe allergy to cats. So, there's yet another good reason to have an invisible one.
But I have to say, Squishy himself is pretty cute, too. No, he's SUPER cute. And mischievous looking. And very, very funny. He's just about everything I hoped he would be.
I know this with great certainty now, because recently I received the completed inside pages of Squishy McFluff: The Invisible Cat!
IT WAS VERY EXCITING!!
Some time ago, I felt my heart thumping in my chest as I opened an email from Leah Thaxton, containing the first character sketches of Ava and Squishy.
The reason my heart was thumping was that it was as if I was about to 'meet' them finally. If you write a story for children which is going to be illustrated by someone else, it can be quite nerve wracking, waiting to see how that artist has interpreted your idea.
You might have lived for a very long time with those little personalities rampaging around your mind. And you can sort of 'see' them, but for me (as a non-drawing person), it was rather like trying to see them through fog.
When I opened that file, I'm so happy to say it all just clicked into place. The squiffy, vague images I had in my mind of Ava and Squishy were instantly gone, and replaced by what was on my screen. It was them. It was SO them.
The clever lady who brought Ava and Squishy to life, is Ella Okstad. I loved her take on them even back then – and I couldn't wait to see more.
Back in June, a few months after seeing those initial sketches, I received the first roughs of the inside pages, which was magical.
Even in their early stages, Ella's illustrations had turned my 1,500 word text into something that was beginning to look very much like a proper children's book. It made me feel quite emotional, and also completely over the moon, to see Squishy and Ava there, on those pages, getting up to their pranks.
Working with the team at Faber, Ella polished and perfected what were brilliant illustrations right from the start. With the pictures in place, it's like reading Squishy anew. The illustrations are so sweet, and so funny – some make me laugh out loud.
They're punchy and they're pretty. They're a tiny bit retro, but also as fresh as daisy. Perhaps, best of all, I seem to see something new every time I look at them.
So, almost a year since I received an offer from Faber, the first book is just about done. The illustrations are ready, the text has been tweaked, and mulled over, and tweaked some more.
Squishy McFluff: The Invisible Cat! is out of my hands and will soon be on its way to the printers.
I can't share any of it with you yet – that will be up to Faber. And it'll still be a little while before I, or anyone else, has a copy in their hands. Yet, I already have that extraordinary feeling… we have made a book! Yippee!