This week I am excited to welcome Phaea Crede and her book, Jet The Cat (Is Not A Cat) to The Backstory. Read on to learn the inspiration behind Jet, a quick strategy for generating ideas, and how you can enter to win your own copy of Jet The Cat (Is Not A Cat).
Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind JET THE CAT (IS NOT A CAT).
First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.
Jet is a cat who loves to swim, which confuses the other animals since REAL cats hate water! Questioning her identify, Jet sets out on a mission to discover what kind of animal she really is, only to realize she gets to define what being a cat means to her.
This is sure to become a go-to read aloud in my classroom. I love books that are entertaining but contain a deeper message upon further inspection. It sounds like Jet would provide just that!
What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?
The idea for Jet was inspired by my mom’s cat Eddie, who loves to swim in the bathtub. Since I’d always thought cats hated water, I found this intriguing. I tried to imagine what another cat might say to Eddie and his love for swimming. Maybe the other cat would be mean about it — even accusing Eddie of not being a real cat. That sparked the idea of a cat who would try to reinvent herself until she realized that she was perfect just the way she was.
And when I was writing the story, I realized I was also writing in a way about my own challenges with dyslexia. When I was a child, I loved to write stories but struggled with spelling and grammar. I got so frustrated that I decided around age 8 that “real writers don’t have dyslexia” and gave up. Thankfully, I grew out of that idea!
We are so happy you grew out of that idea! Jet provides the perfect message for kids about self-acceptance and your personal story will be so inspirational. I have children in my classroom every year who doubt their potential based on their academic struggles and to show them your book and relay your story would be a huge motivator for them.
How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now JET THE CAT (IS NOT A CAT)? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?
I had the first line of the book (Jet was a cat just like any other cat!) in my mind immediately and I knew I wanted to repeat that line for each animal Jet tried to be: Jet was a frog just like any other frog! Jet was a bird just like any other bird! But beyond that concept I had no idea how the story would play out. The key moment came for me when multiple critique partners suggested that every section of the book should follow the same exact meter and cadence. Then it was easy to just fill in the fun details!
And that is why good critique partners are invaluable!
Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?
My kids are the biggest inspiration. They are both so creative and weird, so I steal their ideas and turn them into books all the time. My other method for generating ideas is to set an alarm for five minutes, put pen to paper, and just see what happens. The ideas that come from this exercise have been so fun! I highly recommend this to everyone.
Getting my timer ready! This is a great idea. I may not be able to steal an hour a day to write, but 5 minutes? Absolutely! And I imagine if this were to become a routine exercise, the overthinkers in the crowd (raises hand) would start to relax and let the ideas flow without the self-imposed pressure to make it "perfect".
What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?
The books by my critique partners: Jannie Ho, Carol Gordon Esker, Jenny Lacika, Kari Percival, Katia Wish, Caroline Perry, Monica Acker, and Lisa Perron. I’ve seen their stories grow from small ideas to published books. What an inspiration!
What a great motivation that must have been, to see the whole process unfolding and culminating in published books. I imagine it may have made the goal of being published yourself seem even more attainable.
What are the must haves for your workspace? Tools? Inspiration? Reference materials?
I need my laptop and a full mug of coffee!
Here’s me at my desk with a giant Jet head on during a recent virtual storytime!
This picture is incredible! The kids at your virtual read alouds must be loving this.
Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?
Keep working on your craft and trying to outdo yourself. That makes the journey more fun.
This is wonderful motivation. Pushing to do better and "outdo yourself" is such a great perspective. It can be so easy to compare ourselves to others and I much prefer your sentiment.
Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?
I have two new books on the way in 2022 and 2023, both of which I’m excited to talk about soon. In the meantime, illustrator Terry Runyan and I have one more virtual story time for Jet the Cat (Is Not a Cat) on Saturday May 22 at 10am EST with the indie bookstore Silver Unicorn. Interested readers can save a spot here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KF3DGNqJT_WF-SL2KA3kAQ
AMAZING!!!!!!! Congrats on your forthcoming books and I can't wait for you to be able to share more.
Where can people connect more with you?
Readers be sure to connect with Phaea and support Jet The Cat(Is Not a Cat), illustrated by Terry Runyan. And if you have a chance, reserve your spot to join in with her virtual storytime this Saturday.
Phaea thank you for taking the time to join us today and for sharing all about the inspiration behind Jet The Cat (Is Not A Cat). I loved hearing all about Jet's journey to publication and your tips and tricks for staying inspired.
Phaea is generously offering a copy of Jet The Cat (Is Not A Cat) to one lucky winner. US only
Ways to enter:
1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!
2. Leave a comment on this post.
3. Like our FB page and comment on this week's post.
4. Post about this interview on FB/Instagram and tell me in the comments that you did.
Each method earns an extra entry!
ABOUT PHAEA CREDE
I write silly picture books for silly kids. Serious kids, too! My debut picture book JET THE CAT (IS NOT A CAT) will be published by Barefoot Books in spring 2021.
I've had lots of writing jobs in my life, like scriptwriting for the TV shows Nature Cat and Word Girl. Once, I even got to play video games and write about them for a living! But nothing in the world compares to writing picture books.
As a writer with dyslexia, I'm proud to demonstrate that disabilities don't have to stand in the way of dreams. I hope to connect with kids and adults who think they can't write and convince them that they can!
ABOUT ANDREW HACKET
Andrew’s background of being surrounded by children, both at work and at home, has been a treasure trove of inspiration.
A nature lover, Andrew can be found exploring the woods of Massachusetts with his wife and three kids.
While often witty and imaginative, Andrew’s stories can also delve into the more serious and emotional topics that children can experience.
Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Flannery Literary.