Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival – Max The Detective Cat – The Disappearing Diva by Sarah Todd Taylor @MorecambeVice @scraphamster @BotBSPublicity #bookreview #authorinterview #blogtour

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Happy Friday everyone!!! It’s just 7 days until some of the crime writing fraternity heads to the Lancashire coast for Morecambe and Vice at the gorgeous Midland Hotel. Must admit, I have a soft spot for Morecambe as I spent many a student night out on the seafront at a now-defunct nightclub called the Carleton whilst studying at Lancaster University!

For my stop on the epic Morecambe and Vice blog tour, I’m featuring children’s author Sarah Todd Taylor who is appearing on a panel about Children’s and Young Adult (YA) crime on the Saturday morning with Nicki Thornton and Sharna Jackson moderated by Anne Coates.  For more information and tickets, head over to the official Morecambe and Vice website.

A massive thanks to the lovely Sarah Hardy of Book On The Bright Side Publicity for inviting me on the blog tour, to Sarah Todd Taylor for answering my questions and to Nosy Crow for my copy of Max the Detective Cat – The Disappearing Diva.

Max The Detective Cat Disp Diva cover

Max the Detective Cat: The Disappearing Diva

Max, chief mouse-hunter at the Theatre Royal, is up to his whiskers in his first mystery! Max is a pampered cat, used to the finer things in life, until a fun mouse chase goes badly wrong and he finds himself scruffy and alone and hiding out at the Theatre Royal. It’s here that Max takes on his first case as a detective cat, when he notices that famous singer Madame Emerald is acting strangely. Why is her maid so terrified? And what kind of singer doesn’t like to sing in public? Soon Max is trapped in a complicated web of crime, dashing round dancers’ legs and over the rooftops of London in a race to catch a clever thief…

The Interview

Why did you pick a cat to be the detective of your series?

When I started planning to write a detective story I knew that I really wanted to set it in a theatre, because I have spent so much of my life in theatres, both onstage and backstage. To begin with I thought that my detective would be a girl in the chorus, but then I thought it would be good to have the theatre cat be the detective. I adore cats. My family have always had them and I love their independent personalities and the way that they are so particular about everything and get so uppity when they think people are laughing at them. They are full of character. Having my detective be a cat means that he can sniff out clues without the humans suspecting that he is spying on them. No-one notices a cat, after all, and he can skulk around in shadows without people even noticing that he is there. The only downside is that the humans can’t speak Cat, so Max has to find a way to let them know who the criminal is without speech, but that just makes it more action-led, which is fun to write.

What sort of books do you read?

I read a lot of crime fiction. I love Agatha Christie and I love classic crime short stories. I love modern children’s crime fiction too. The Murder Most Unladylike and Sinclair Mysteries are firm favourites and I love the Poppy Pym mysteries. My favourite stories always have a puzzle at the heart of them. When I’m not reading crime I like books with lots of adventure in them, and maybe a little magic. 

As a child/young adult did you read crime fiction?

I read all of the Famous Five and Secret Seven books and longed to be part of a group solving crimes and puzzles. Then, when I was older, I started reading Agatha Christie. My favourite of her detectives is Miss Marple, because I’ve always loved the idea of someone quietly solving the crimes and it being the last person anyone would think was a detective. I think I worked a lot of that into Max. No-one expects him to be anything more than an adorable cat, so when he turns out to be a detective its quite a surprise for his human friends. 

What can you tell us about your current work in progress?

It’s all a bit of a secret at the moment, but I can tell you that it has a lot of puzzles at the heart of it and I’m getting to work with codes, which I love. There will be adventure and a bit of danger and a very brave heroine.  

Other than Morecambe and Vice, have you been to any other literary festivals?

Morecambe and Vice is the first literary festival I have ever presented at and I am so excited to be going and to be talking about crime for young people. I’m really glad that crime fiction is so popular with all ages and I’m looking forward to meeting other people who are so enthusiastic for it. 

Final question – what would your specialist subject on Mastermind be?

Oh that’s an easy one – it would be the operettas of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. I utterly adore them and have performed in seven of them, some several times. When I’m not writing I love singing and I might even be singing a song over the weekend in Morecambe. 

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What Did I Think ?

It’s been a good while since I read a children’s book and possibly equally as long since I read one where the main character was an animal. But I have to admit, I was looking forward to meeting Max as I was intrigued how a feline would solve a case – was this a talking cat or what?

So our cute Max is kicked out by his aristocratic house for a little bit of mischief and finds himself in a London theatre…. Enter stage left Madame Emerald but Max despite his privileged start in life smells a rat…. who is this woman?? This diva is definitely someone Max needs to keep an eye on and so did I! Max is a gorgeous character, the author has created a unique plush feline finding his feet in the world. One of my friends had a Persian who would slink around her house so Max became that soft silky Persian cat!

I loved the illustrations through out the story, the little paw prints at the end of chapters and the pictures of Max learning to fend for himself in London.

There is very much a cozy crime feel to the book which you’d expect from the intended audience.  Given the amount of crime fiction I read, I could see where the story was kind of heading but for the younger audience, the clues are there for them to piece together.  I will be passing the book on to a friend of mine who has two daughters of the right sort of age to read.  I personally think most children would enjoy this fun feline detective series.

Who Is Sarah Todd Taylor?

Sara Todd Taylor

Sarah Todd Taylor was brought up in Yorkshire and Wales surrounded by books and cats. She discovered the theatre when she was a teenager and was instantly hooked, appearing in over 20 musicals in her hometown as well as helping out backstage. In her spare time she likes to sing opera in wonderful dresses, and she shares her home with her fabulous husband, two guinea pigs and a hamster.

Who Is Nicola Kinnear?

Nicola Kinnear

Nicola Kinnear grew up in north west Kent where her inspiration for drawing was fuelled by books, trips to the countryside and quite a few pets. Since graduating from the Illustration Animation BA at Kingston, Nicola has continued her love of storytelling and drawing characters through children’s book illustration. She still has quite a few pets.

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