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Not Enforcing Sameness

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

The Silver Tabby is a wonderfully illustrated children’s book about a kitten that struggles to fit in with the other cats. What was your inspiration behind this kids book?

The Silver Tabby was initially written as a high school English assignment. At the time, the class was studying the topic of myths and fairytales, and how the stories portrayed a message or lesson to pass on to the next generation. The assignment task was to write and illustrate a story that embedded a lesson relevant to our societal paradigm. In completing the assignment, I wanted to pass on the message that differences can be beneficial, and that no-one should be judged based on their appearance of being different. I was inspired by authors such as Beatrix Potter and A. A. Milne, with their use of animal characters to portray their stories. Having a love of animals myself, I wanted to use animals in my story to spread a message of hope, kindness, and reconciliation. I also followed the commonly heard writer’s advice of “write what you know” and incorporated some of my own experiences of being considered different, spending time alone; as a result, then receiving acceptance.

Over the years, since the original high school assignment, The Silver Tabby has been redrafted and revamped, but the inspiration and passion in telling the story have remained the same. I believe that passing on the message of accepting others for who they truly are, and not enforcing sameness, is an essential lesson to teach our future generations.

Are you a cat person or a dog person (I’m guessing a cat person)? Do you have any pets that this story was based on?

I would say that I am an animal person in general, not specific to being a cat person or a dog person. However, I have had both animals as pets in the past as well as guinea pigs, and most recently, rats. I’m the type of person who will go for a walk and rescue a lost or injured animal or will visit an animal shelter and want to adopt all the animals to make sure they have a happy, loving, and safe home.

When I originally started writing The Silver Tabby, I had a short-hair silver tabby cat named Silver who the main character of the book is based on. The real Silver was born from my families’ then neighbour’s cat, who had chosen the enclosed area where our hot water tank was stored, below our Queenslander-style home, as a warm, safe place to birth her litter of kittens. The kittens were a mix of tortoiseshells, ginger tabbies, and black furred kittens; Silver was the only silver tabby. Our neighbours called Silver’s mother, Mama Cat. Mama Cat would lead the kittens between our house and the neighbour’s; Silver would venture away from the litter and come inside our house and make herself comfortable while I read. I think Silver really ended up adopting me rather than the other way round.

I loved the illustrations in this book. What was the collaboration like between you and the illustrator Grace Elliott?

Grace is fantastic to work with; I would recommend any author seeking an illustrator for their children’s book to look Grace up on Instagram. Initially, I showed Grace a draft of the text and concept of illustrations that I had drawn years ago for the high school assignment; and later digitally remastered for a later draft. Then Grace worked her magic on the artwork for The Silver Tabby. I feel I made the right decision collaborating with Grace, rather than illustrating the story myself. Grace’s artwork compliments the text and sets the scenes of the story, bringing the characters to life, in a way that I couldn’t have done myself.

As an artist, Grace was willing to accept feedback and advice from other artists, as we amended drafts, and she shared my vision as the author for how the book might look as a finished product. Most of our collaboration was done online, as I spent a lot of the last year moving intercity and overseas, Grace was very patient and understanding throughout every pause and readjustment that was made during the production of The Silver Tabby. I am very grateful to have had Grace onboard for the project, and would gladly work with Grace again.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have a couple of concepts that I am working on at the moment. Another illustrated book that poetically portrays the epic clash between Heaven and Hell. I expect this book will be available within the next year or two. The other concept is a romantic story of undetermined length, and availability, at this stage; although I anticipate the story to evolve into a novella if not a novel.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The Silver Tabby by [Higgins, Rachael]

The Silver Tabby is about a kitten named Silver who struggles with being different from the other kittens in her litter.

Then one day, Silver manages to become the same as the other kittens. Excited to meet a new friend, all the kittens play happily together. But, Silver’s disguise does not last long.

When the other kittens discover their new friend is Silver, will she still be accepted?

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