Kitty believes anything is possible. She is gutsy, she is curious and she is loved. Kitty, however, is not a cat.
“Kitty is a girl living in an abandoned house with a group of cats who try to teach her what it means to be human” Black said.
“Kitty does not speak. She imagines she is a cat. She embodies that time in your life when you could be anything in your imagination.”
Black’s ‘Kitty is Not a Cat’ series is based on an Australian animation series of the same name, created by Melbourne-based pair Bruce Kain and Maurice Argiro.
The first four books of the series are set to be released on 29 July.
The short stories take readers, aged six and over, through an array of human experiences that baffle a group of cats who share a unique fondness for the young girl who has turned up on their doorstep.
“They’re a kind-hearted group of cats who just want Kitty to be happy,” Black said.
“They offer a fresh way to look at the things we as humans do.”
Black said that writing the books from animation was a new experience for her.
“I haven’t done that before,” she said.
“I’ve written tv series based on books before but never the other way around.”
Despite being a new challenge, Black said developing the print characters was rewarding.
“It’s a complete reversal of roles. The cats become the parenting influence yet they are neither human or parents so they always get it wrong.
“The cats are also jazz cats, they love music. It was a challenge getting that across in words too.”
Of the 16 main characters in the books, Black says King Tubby was her favourite.
“They’re all strong, well-developed character,” she said. “And I don’t like to have favourites, but if I had to choose it would be King Tubby.
“In every book he tries to be kingly and in charge but he’s always misinformed. He thinks he’s important and they all go along with it because it keeps him happy.
“He gets all his words wrong and he doesn’t want the others to know but he can’t read and he’s afraid of the dark.”
Black’s background is in theatre. She has always preferred to be behind the scenes producing and writing rather than acting.
Her imagination is a trait that stems from her childhood, admitting she was always an “avid reader”.
“The books were not only a challenge for me but it was so enjoyable to be in a world where everyone is nice to each other and the world is so rich and beautiful.”
How the cats came to be living in an abandoned house with a human child that does not speak is something Black prefers not to think about.
“We have to think like a child and just accept it,” she said.
“It’s only adults who need to know.
“The main thing is Kitty is happy and they’re (the cats) taking care of her.”
Jess Black is also an award-winning author of children’s books including Bindi Wildlife Adventure series, the Mr Walker series, the Kaboom Kid series and the RSPCA Animal Tales series. Black also wrote episodes for the television series of the popular book series, Sleepover Club.
Kitty is Not a Cat is a junior-fiction series based off the Channel 7 hit show which is voice-acted by Australian comedians and actors such as Rove McManus, Cal Wilson, Marg Downey and Stephen Hall.
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