Monday, 10 December 2012

Muse Monday - "My mews" by Nick Green

Nick Green - Catman?
This winter sees the conclusion my Cat Kin trilogy: The Cat Kin, Cat’s Paw and the grand finale, Cat’s Cradle. It will come as no surprise to you if I say that my inspiration – my muse, if you like – is the cat. But a writer’s job is to surprise the reader, so now I must tell you that it isn’t.

Cats are, of course, all over the books – if not actual cats then the idea of them. The whole series grew from the premise of a cat-like martial art – pashki – and how it affects the lives of the teen protagonists Ben and Tiffany.  As one perceptive reader piped up at a recent school visit: ‘So it’s just like Spider-Man?’ Ahem. Perhaps a few similarities. I was probably more influenced by an old comic-strip from my childhood, ‘The Leopard from Lime Street’ (which was itself a blatant Spider-Man rip-off, right down to the radioactive blood). But I stray from the point. Cats did inspire my invention of pashki, but it was something else that served as the story’s muse. Backstreets, alleyways, yards, lanes… or perhaps a secluded mews. An urban landscape as crawling with potential stories as the Tube is crawling with mice.

The Cat Kin happens in London. Because London’s the sort of city in which anything you can imagine happening, probably already has. It feels as if you could knock on the door of some brooding tenement block, and have the door opened by Mrs Powell, the mysterious pashki teacher. You can walk on Hampstead Heath and imagine you’re in the heart of the countryside – was that a person leaping between those treetops, or just an overfed squirrel? Was that scream in the night an city fox, or some bigger, more dangerous thing? Did my train just rattle through an underground station that isn’t on the map? Was that just a fellow passenger’s reflection, or a motionless figure on the platform?

Wander the grave-filled woods of Abney Park cemetery, and be spooked by the ruined chapel looming out of the leaves. Venture into the vast Tate Modern art museum, and watch how strangely ordinary people behave in the presence of some giant work of art. Or stand on the Ray of Light bridge outside, and see how the Tate has its bulbous reflection in the shape of St Paul’s cathedral.

I found the stories of the Cat Kin trilogy in the alleys, parks, heights and tunnels of London. What New York is to Spider-Man, what Hogwarts is to Harry Potter, London is to Ben Gallagher and Tiffany Maine. I invented those characters, so I know they don’t really exist – but if I happened to be walking the streets of Stoke Newington late one night, and happened to glance up and see a human figure leaping between rooftops, I can’t say I’d be entirely surprised.

Seek the secret of pashki on Nick's website

Now read the Cat Kin trilogy:
Cat's Paw

Cat Kin
Cat's Cradle


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