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Lockdown inspires local stories

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Lockdown was no barrier for award-winning Port Chalmers writer and illustrator Kathryn van Beek, who has two new books available for pre-order today.

"Lockdown didn’t make too much of a difference to me because I would have spent my evenings and weekends inside working on the books anyway," Kathryn says. "Being a bit of a nerd worked in my favour!"

Both books will be launched in August in collaboration with The University Book Shop - but that’s where the similarities between them end.

Bruce Goes Outside is an illustrated children’s book. The second in a series about Dunedin’s most famous cat (Bruce, who has 74,000 online fans), the book shares messages of kindness and standing up for what’s right. The first book in the series, Bruce Finds A Home, was selected for the Little Landers Literature programme with The Highlanders, and is described by NZ Booklovers as "a wonderful addition to any child’s bookshelf". Quality approved by the children at Port Chalmers School, Bruce Goes Outside promises to be just as delightful, and can be pre-ordered on the Kickstarter website.

Kathryn admits she never thought a story about going outside would be so topical.

"After lockdown I think we can all relate to Bruce’s joy, fear and excitement as he explores the big, wide world."

Pet is an illustrated collection of literary short stories that is definitely not for kids. Described by Steve Braunias as, "Hectic, chatty, very modern New Zealand, very, very readable," the dark and humorous stories explore our relationships with children, lovers, and other animals. Pet can be pre-ordered on the PledgeMe website.

Kathryn has been honing her craft as a short story writer for years - winning the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Short Story Prize along the way.

"It seemed strange not to acknowledge the global pandemic in the collection, so at the last minute I sneaked in a micro story about lockdown," Kathryn says. "In a nod to all the birdsong I’d been hearing, I illustrated the story with a soaring welcome swallow."

Kathryn says that both Pet and Bruce Goes Outside have been labours of love.

"I’d actually started working on Pet before my life was turned upside-down by finding Bruce as a day-old kitten on the side of the road almost five years ago," Kathryn says. "I’m thrilled that I’m finally able to share both of these books with the wider community."

Exclusive rewards are on offer for those who pre-order, including quality art prints and beautiful book plates (printed locally in Port Chalmers by DigiArt and Design). People can also choose to donate copies of Bruce Goes Outside to support the fundraising efforts of the Cat Rescue Network Dunedin, a charitable trust committed to helping stray and abandoned cats and kittens.

Bruce Goes Outside Kickstarter page (video filmed at Dunedin City Library):

Pet PledgeMe page (video filmed at Otago Museum):

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