Category Archives: teen

My pitch for The Last Free Cat dystopian YA movie

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said that The Last Free Cat would make a great movie. And whereas so many teenage dystopias actually evoke a  conservative and despairing view of the world, The Last Free Cat radically questions our current world order and finds a real source of hope.

In Hollywood, they say, you must be able to pitch your idea for a film in two sentences.  So here are two sentences which describe The Last Free Cat:

In a world where cats are marketed like Rolexes, it is strictly illegal to own a stray.  Law-abiding teenager Jade finds an unregistered cat in her garden, falls in love with it, and ends up on a flight  from the authorities which radically changes the way she looks at the world.

There is, of course, much more to the story than two sentences can convey: importantly, it’s also about a human relationship and has been chosen by Books For Keeps as one of its top ten teen romances.

Given its political significance, The Last Free Cat is predictably a story which divides opinion, but a brief read through the reviews on Goodreads confirms that it is a book with a huge impact on its fans. In 2013 it was selected by the ILA as one of the top thirty YA books published in the US.  As a film it could maybe be an award-winner?

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Life goes on

kittens
There’s been nothing much to say about The Last Free Cat lately. It’s been selling steadily, particularly the e-book, and collecting excellent reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (apart from a bizarre campaign against the book from people who were disappointed when I told them that the novel had nothing to do with the abortion issue). In real life, however, we got ourselves a worthy successor to Floozie, the inspiration for The Last Free Cat. Flora is a beautiful little part-Bengal tabby, a quite unique mixture of colours with a great temperament. She came on heat on Valentines Day and gave birth under our bed just after Easter. I’ve been closely observing her four fantastic kittens ever since, partly because their development is so fascinating, partly because they just might feature in a sequel if I ever decide to write it. As you can see from the three here, they are the perfect antidote for anyone like me who does not find it easy to relax.

Feela’s song


Here’s ‘Come Home Soon’, a song I recorded a while ago, set to pictures of Floozie (RIP), the real-life inspiration for Feela.

Huge honour for Last Free Cat as novel makes IRA list

The Last Free Cat has been selected for the 2013 IRA Young Adults’ Choices reading list, the first Albert Whitman title to be accorded this honour. The IRA (International Reading Association, not Irish Republican Army, btw) is the world’s leading organisation of literacy professionals, and its young adults’ reading list is limited to about 30 titles per year. To quote the IRA website, “since 1987, the Young Adults’ Choices project has developed an annual list of new books that will encourage adolescents to read. The books are selected by the readers themselves, so they are bound to be popular with middle and secondary school students. The reading list is a trusted source of book recommendations, used by adolescents, their parents, teachers, and librarians.”

US edition and other news

Cover of the US edition

Respected US publishers Albert Whitman will be bringing out a US edition of The Last Free Cat this autumn (or fall, if you’re reading this over there). They’re very excited about the potential of the book in the States.

Meanwhile the novel has been published as an e-book by Hachette, the original publishers: nice review of this on Amazon.

The Korean edition is making slow progress, but the publishers there have huge regard for the book and its potential impact in South Korea. Hopefully there will be news of a publication date shortly.

Some people have noticed that The Last Free Cat, besides being a politically-charged thriller increasingly in keeping with the age, is also a romance: check out this considerable honour.

And film-makers please note this further compliment.

The support of enthusiastic fans of the book is invaluable. Reviews, comments on forums etc can really make a difference.

Last Free Cat published in Japan

The Last Free Cat is now available in a Japanese translation. It’s a beautiful production, smaller than the UK version, with a cover (shown here in thumbnail) showing Jade and Feela, who has been portrayed accurately from the description in the novel, and shows a remarkable similarity to the real-life model for Feela. Fantastic outfit for Jade as well!

Cats in season: a clarification

last free cat coverJon Blake writes:

I’m grateful to a reader for pointing out that the scene in which Feela comes into season may give the wrong impression.

Because of what Jade has heard about ferrets, she is afraid that Feela might die if she doesn’t mate. No-one confirms this, but Amelie suggests it may not do Feela any good is she doesn’t find a tom.

Amelie, however, is not an expert, so I do want to make it clear that female cats are in no danger if they fail to mate when in season. They can, however, run into health problems through continually mating, as I know all too well. The real-life model for Feela became infected when pregnant for the second time while still weak from her first kittens. Her life was only saved by having a hysterectomy (womb removal).

Hope that clears things up.

Author gets swine flu, doesn’t find pig

pigmanJon Blake writes:

I’m just recovering from a nasty dose of swine flu. Unlike the cat flu in ‘The Last Free Cat’, it hasn’t led to hugely expensive pigs, nor have I found an unlicensed one in my garden. But the pandemic has shown how the events in The Last Free Cat really are feasible.

While convalescing I’ve been delighted to find an enthusiastic new customer review on Amazon.

I’m currently at work on an adult novel about the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival of Music (the one starring Dylan). My dad was the electrical contractor for it and I was there at 14. There is a website about it (suitable for teens and adults) here.

Top books blog recommends Last Free Cat

last free cat coverStefanie Hollmichel’s So Many Books is one of the most respected books blogs on the internet – nearly a quarter of a million hits.   Stefanie’s recommendations are always looking out for, and now they include The Last Free Cat, of which she says: “it is. . a story about finding the truth, working for a greater cause and taking a stand. The book is also filled with wonderful instances of the kindness of strangers and goodness coming from unexpected places. If you have a cat-loving reader on your holiday list this year, this might be the book for them.”

The Last Free Cat, at the moment, is only in UK bookshops, but thanks to the wonders of Amazon and other online stores, anyone in the world can order it, so let’s hope it now gets some fans in the USA and beyond!

Another great review for The Last Free Cat

“The Last Free Cat is one of the best young adult adventures in a long time. Be prepared to share. Everyone will want to read this.” So says Sam North on the Hackwriters site. The full review is here.