Hi everyone! We have another treat today! Vickie Johnstone is with us. Woot!! Vickie lives in London, UK. We are so jealous -road trip!! She works as a freelance layout sub-editor on magazines and as an editor on indie books. She also has a thing about fluffy cats and loves reading, writing, films, the sea, rock music, art, nature, Milky Bar, Baileys and travelling! Whew, we’re tired just listing it all, lol!! Vickie says that if sleeping was an Olympic sport, she’d be a contender.
Vickie has self-published twelve books. Wow is right!! They are: Kaleidoscope (poetry); Travelling Light (poetry); Life’s Rhythms (haiku); 3 Heads and a Tail (comedy romance); Kiwi in Cat City (magical cat series for middle grade readers); Kiwi and the Missing Magic; Kiwi and the Living Nightmare; Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle; Kiwi in the Realm of Ra; Kiwi’s Christmas Tail; Day of the Living Pizza (comedy detective series for middle grade readers), and Day of the Pesky Shadow.
Vickie is currently working on a fantasy with a female central character called The Sea Inside. Now that you know what we know about her, let’s get to the good stuff!!
~~Vickie, tell us something are you grateful for.
For the air that I breathe.
~~So simple, and yet most of us take it for granted. Okay, here’s one of our favorites to ask our guests. If you could change one thing about our world, what would it be and why?
I’d remove people’s ability to feel aggression or desire for power over another. I think if that was gone we wouldn’t have wars. People would still disagree, but you wouldn’t have so much crime or violence. The world is too violent.
~~Here’s another favorite of ours. If you knew the exact date of your death down to the minute, what would you change about your life starting tomorrow?
Blimey, it would depend upon the date. If it was far in the future, say when I was in my 60s, I wouldn’t act differently as I’ve still got twenty-odd years. I’d be panicking and changing stuff in my 60s then, a few years before. I’d probably go mad and get a toyboy and leg it off to some far-off place. Well, I hope I’d still have the spark to do it then!
Last year I had to leave my full-time job because it was causing problems (long story) and I’ve been working from home and writing a lot. A friend said I was ‘following the dream’, which I hadn’t thought about before he said it. That made me smile.
However, if you said I was going to be kicking the bucket in the next couple of weeks, I probably wouldn’t look – I’d keep following my dream. I’d also have some great nights out with friends, visit family and then buy a ticket to a place I’d always wanted to go, but never been. And I’d want everyone to dress up in bright colours for the funeral. Oops, and I’d also find someone nice to adopt my cat. Little precious baby that she is!
~~You are so like us. Job one is to find a good person to adopt our pets!! Vickie, if you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to yourself?
Ah, interesting! I was never a confident youngster and very shy, so I’d be giving myself some boosters in that direction and also tell myself not to worry so much. Yeah, I’d be working on the confidence thing. I’d also ask my grandparents more questions about themselves because they died so young – within a year of one another when I was 11. There are a few mistakes I made in my twenties that I would try to undo, and there are some things I would do differently if given the chance. We moved a lot when I was growing up, and I lost friends every time. Looking back, I would try to keep in contact. As a kid, I had no idea how to do that over big distances. Having the internet back then would have been magic. I would also tell myself to demand that my parents take me to a dermatologist as a teenager – it would have saved me two years of bullying at school and probably would have made me a more confident youngster!! It’s funny what you know in hindsight. Simple changes…
~~We so agree, hindsight comes a little too late, lol! After a difficult day what do you do to recuperate? Does it work?
Depends what I’m in the mood for and how bad the day has been. The other week I took some books to a bookstore and the owner, who was expecting me, was not very kind once I said I was self-published. It was a bad experience and an hour’s journey back home. I headed to the shop and bought a New York style cheesecake and ate it at home with a cup of tea. It was damn good!
Other times I’ll chill out by watching a DVD or something, eat chocolate, cook something nice or cuddle up with my cat. She’s so funny that she cheers me up. If it has been a really bad day it might be time for cider or a glass of wine! It’s great if you’ve got something planned on that day though, so you can go out, have fun and think about something completely different and your friends can joke you out of the mood.
~~Oh, cheesecake, yum! We should have had some for all of us today! Alright, moving on. What is one of the most unusual things you have done in your life?
I travelled around Canada, Alaska and Australia on my own; I got my nose pierced (but it fell out when I was hung over!); three times I almost did a parachute jump (I think someone is telling me something); I rode on a horse on the beach; flew down into the Grand Canyon in a helicopter; I did a 12-hour write-athon for charity. They’re not that unusual so I thought I had to put a few to make up for it!
~~That is fantastic. Traveling to all those places must have been awesome. Let’s see, here’s an easy one. What is or are the genres of your book or books?
They are mainly for middle-grade readers. There is the six-book Kiwi Series, starring a magic cat who takes her human friends to animal-inhabited worlds, and the two-book Smarts & Dewdrop Mystery Series. The latter are titled ‘Day of…’ something, in tribute to the Day of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, which inspired my silly comedy Day of the Living Pizza (book one in the S&D series). Apart from these I have written a comedy romance with a touch of fantasy as one character is a dog who swears a lot. That one is called 3 Heads & a Tail and I wrote it for NaNoWriMo 2011. I have also written two books of poetry and a book of haiku. At the moment I am working on a fantasy novel that I started in 2009. I’ve written about 25,000 words. Did I mention that I never used to finish things?
~~Well, it seems to us you are finishing things right and left now. What made you decide to write in your particular genre?
I never set out to write for children. It sort of happened. I’ve written stories since I was so high (pointing to my knee – I was always small), but I never really finished things. Then in 2002, I was made redundant and, finding myself bored at home, somehow, kaboom, I wrote and finished a book. It was short, about 28k, and it began with a poem about my cat called Kiwi. I didn’t know where the book would go when I started, but gradually all of these cats made appearances and said things. They needed to live somewhere, and a place emerged. Then other questions followed, which demanded answers. What would they eat? Where would they sleep? What did they look like? Would they wear clothes? How would they walk? Would they always stay on four legs? How did they think? What adventures would they have?
Kiwi in Cat City turned into one big adventure for me… into the world of children’s books. As a kid, I loved books. Give me one starring a talking animal and I was in Heaven. Make it a fluffy, cute animal with a sense of humour on a big adventure, and I wouldn’t have noticed if my bedroom ceiling caved in. I would be lost in a world that was unlike my own, dreaming, imagining, and almost being who I was reading about. So sometimes I was a rabbit. All the while, I would have this big sense of wide-eyed wonder.
Then I grew up. I stopped reading children’s stories, except for my favourite book of all time, Fantastic Mr Fox. Now and then I’d dip back into that one, but that was it. So, how come at the age of 30-ish (not giving that away), I wrote a book about magical cats for an audience aged nine to twelve? I’ve no idea. A huge gap of years followed this until I finally self-published the book via kindle and wrote a second at the big old age of 40-(la la). The second one only came about because some readers liked the first one – to my utter shock. I think fear, self-doubt and self-criticism – those big slimy monsters that prevent us doing many things – had got in the way. But, hey, that’s a different story.
~~Vickie, it’s been so awesome having you with us!! You are a wonderful guest! Here’s how you can connect with Vickie yourself:
Kiwi Series website: Kiwiincatcity.com
FB author page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorVickieJohnstone
FB Kiwi page: http://www.facebook.com/KiwiinCatCity
FB poetry page: http://www.facebook.com/KaleidoscopePoetry
FB editing page: http://www.facebook.com/VickieJohnstoneEditing
Amazon US author page:
Amazon UK author page:
Smashwords author page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/vixie
~~We hope you have enjoyed getting to know Vickie Johnstone as much as we have! Here’s one of her books, Kiwi in Cat City. You can find it on Amazon.
K.R. and T.L.