Developing a Team of Superhero Cats

The creative process is pretty challenging for adults.

But for kids, creativity is second nature.

They haven’t had as many messages telling them to be sensible or dull down their dreams.

They haven’t been told to only speak up when they know they have the right answer.

They haven’t learned that belief in the impossible is frowned upon.

And as a result, creativity flows out of them like water out of a faucet.

Starting the Cat Club

At first, the Amazing Cat Club was mostly a flight of fancy by Felicity. We figured it was a momentary blip in the vast number of ideas, concepts and creations that she came up with on a daily basis.

But as the days, weeks and months past we realised that this wasn’t a passing fad.

I (Chris) was intrigued by the level of detail that Felicity would come up with, and the consistency of that detail. I started to wonder just how intricate the world that Felicity was creating really was, and over time understood that the personalities, idiosyncrasies and flaws of her many characters were amazingly complex.

I had grossly underestimated just what the Amazing Cat Club would become.

Sitting Down for the First Draft

I suggested to Felicity that perhaps we could start a new project – a book, based on the Cat Club.

She was immediately on board.

Shortly after that, I was overwhelmed with detail.

The short list of “main” characters for the first book that I was given were:

  • Snooty
  • Jasmine
  • Saki
  • Sunflowers
  • Soprano
  • Fluffy and Coco
  • Mr Big
  • Archie
  • Gus
  • Bambi
  • Anna
  • Professor Gertrude

Although I’m sure each of them will make an appearance soon, we agreed that getting to know 12 main characters in the space of a few pages was going to be a tough job.

So we narrowed it down… but we still needed a story.

Real or Make Believe?

I have always enjoyed reading books that integrate the real world with the make believe. Stories that take place in real places, with real people and things, but stretch the possibilities to encompass a little more than reality has to offer.

Felicity chose Canada for our first book – I’m not sure why, but I suspect it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

The bad guys were obvious: Mr Big and his cronies. But what would they be up to? What were they trying to do?

Originally we settled upon a museum and the theft of an artifact of some kind, but research suggested that the National Gallery of Canada might be a better place to start.

Felicity did the research online to discover the subject matter for the book (which you’ll have to read the book itself to find out about) and then we were on our way.

The Personalities Tell the Story

As I started to put the words down, I realised something: it wasn’t the story that shaped the characters, it was the characters that shaped the story.

Because of Felicity’s detailed instructions regarding what each character was like, I knew exactly what they would be feeling, how they would be behaving, and what their reactions would be to a given scenario.

And so, while the setting and the events unfolded, I found that it was the participants who guided the story and its outcomes.

To delve more into that, writing the Beginnings Short Story was a big help to further dig into where the main Cat Club members came from, and the complexities of their lives.

Too Deep for a Children’s Book?

Some people will think “Chris – it’s a kids book, and you’re overthinking it”.

If you’ve followed along a little and read about why I decided writing a book was worthwhile, then you’ll know this: I don’t like kids being patronised.

I believe that children can enjoy and grow with complexity just the same as adults can.

Of course there are some changes when writing for children, but not as many as people think.

Overly simple topics and shallow characters make stories less engaging and short term.

I’m glad that I went deeper into the back story of the Amazing Cat Club – it’s something that all of the books will be richer for, and I hope that you start to get into it too.

A lot of effort (emotional, physical, and mental) go into producing books like these – we hope that you enjoy them.

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