The Mister Mishkins books are based on real cats, with the star of the show being Mister Mishkins himself.
Throughout my life, I have been owned by cats: Minski, who my mum had before I was born and would sit guard over me at night; Minski II, who was with me during my formative years, from pre-teen until my mid-20s; and then Merlin Cat, who taught me that the bond between cat and human is an incredibly strong one. All three cats were black, long-haired, and they were my world.
When I lost Merlin in March 2021, I was devastated. While as a family, we have always had cats, and had over 20 in my lifetime thus far, I missed that unique connection with my own cat, the one who would snuggle up on my bed for cuddles, sit behind my head on the sofa, and – this was Merlin’s role – be my companion when I went self-employed in 2005, keeping me company in my office.
Not having my own cat made me incredibly sad, and I knew it was time to get another cat. But it couldn’t be black, not so soon after Merlin. I had my heart set on a ginger kitten, but the pandemic lockdowns made finding cats, even rescue cats, at that time incredibly difficult.
Finally, I came across a set of ginger kittens. They were part Maine Coon, and they were based in Essex. I spoke to the breeder – who owned both mum and dad – and spent a long time looking at the photos of each kitten. She had three boys, and there was one in particular who caught my eye. He was stretched out sleeping, paws above his head, with a smile on his face. A smiling ginger cat. He had to be mine.
Then it was time to decide upon a name. I have always had ‘M’ cats, and this ginger fluffball would be no exception. But what to call him? The night before I went to pick him up, the name Mishkins came to mind, having played with Minski, Merlin and other names together.
That’s it. Mishkins. And if the name suits him, I will call him Mister Mishkins and I will write a children’s book about him and he will own an apothecary.
The next day, I picked Mishkins up, the name suited him, and I began writing.
But it is not just Mishkins who is a real cat. All the cats in this book are real – not just my magical M cats, but Jade and Biggles, who were brother and sister and are very much missed, as is Jasper. Marmaduke was our first ginger and white cat, while Bumble belonged to one of my oldest school friends.
Not only that, but Luca is real, too. He was given the first three chapters to read while the book was in development, and his reaction to the story was amazing! When I knew I needed to add a child to the book, Luca was a natural choice.
So there you are, the inspiration behind the kind, magical cat who travels the world in a hot-air balloon. The real Mister Mishkins. Enjoy Mister Mishkins’ photo gallery below, and don’t forget to follow him on Instagram!