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How to meet an alien...

4th Sep 20

Have you ever wanted to meet an alien? What if the alien arrived in the body of a cat? That's just what happens in MY LIFE AS A CAT by CARLIE SOROSIAK, author of I, Cosmo.

MY LIFE AS A CAT follows a 300-year-old alien who ends up on Earth, in the body of a cat.

There he must learn about humans, fur balls, water and cheese sandwiches as he tries to find a way home.

We asked author CARLIE SOROSIAK to tell us more about her new book, MY LIFE AS A CAT:

Q: What happens in My Life as a Cat?

A: My Life as a Cat follows an alien who's spent the last 300 years preparing to travel to Earth and assume the form of a forest ranger in Yellowstone National Park.

But there's a massive mix-up! He ends up as a stray cat. Luckily, a human called Olive finds him, and together, they set off on a journey to find home.

Q: Why did you decide you wanted to bring an alien to Earth in this story?

A: I have always believed in the likelihood of aliens, and I imagine that they'd find many of our ways strange, baffling, and delightful. Creatively, this was an interesting prospect. It was also an opportunity to think about what it means to be an outsider.

Q: The alien could have arrived as any creature - why did you choose to make it a cat called Leonard?

A: I had just finished writing I, Cosmo, which is about a dog. Naturally, I felt that a cat should come next!

My Life as a Cat is very much about family, so I wanted to give him a family name. 'Leonard' was my grandfather's name.

Q: Your earlier book I, Cosmo is written from a dog's perspective. Was it harder to find your alien cat's 'voice'?

A: It was! Cosmo came so naturally to me; he was the voice of all of my family dogs combined.

Leonard was trickier; I had to balance the cat with the alien, and it took me a few months to get the opening chapters right.

Q: Leonard moves in with a human child, Olive. Why does this friendship work so well?

A: Olive, in many ways, is me as a kid - and I was absolutely obsessed with animals of all kinds, including cats. I've had so many wonderful cats in my life, and I've channeled those relationships with Olive.

There's also something incredibly wonderful about cats in general; they listen well. They keep your secrets. Getting a kitty head-bonk can make up for a bad day at school.

Q: Leonard and Olive both have serious issues to face, but there are also lots of funny moments as Leonard discovers more about humans - do you have a favourite discovery?

A: I loved writing the opening scenes, when Leonard discovers the power of water for the first time.

We don't think about it nearly enough on Earth, but I believe that an alien visitor would notice it immediately: Water, everywhere!

Q: At one point Leonard writes a list of human things he wants to try - how did you decide what to put on that list?

A: The list is filled with things that I adore. Cheese sandwiches! Dinner parties! Board games!

Q: If you were an alien on Earth, what do you think would surprise you the most about living on Earth, and humans?

A: We spend so much time worrying about what others think of us.

There's a moment in the novel when Olive visits the beach, and a group of her peers make fun of her for bringing her cat. Leonard muses that it seems odd to judge other so harshly.

Why does it matter what kind of clothes you wear? What music you listen to? Whether or not you bring your cat to the beach?

Q: Was there a part of the story that you particularly enjoyed writing?

A: The final scenes were especially fun for me. I don't want to spoil anything! But I'll say: it involves a lot of running, and a lot of love.

Q: What would you like young readers to take from Olive and Leonard's story?

A: You don't have to be born into a family to call it your own. Found families are everywhere. Being 'weird' is a superpower.

Q: What has been your favourite escape from work / writing during lockdown?

A: I've recently taken up powerlifting, which I never expected I'd do! I can now squat with 200 pounds on my back. Who knew?

Q: Have you discovered any new MG writers or books you could recommend to our members?

A: If you haven't checked out L.D. Lapinski's The Strangeworlds Travel Agency or Aisha Bushby's Moonchild, you should! They're stunning writers.

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