All my life, ever since I was a very little girl, I have always, always, always wanted a dog. A cocker spaniel, to be exact. A black cocker spaniel to be even more precise. But there was one big problem.
My mum’s allergic to dogs.
Even when we finally got hamsters she still got a bit sniffy. But I always thought “when I’m grown up I’ll have a dog. A black cocker spaniel”.
I grew up and went to university – where we weren’t allowed pets.
Then drama school – where we weren’t allowed pets.
Then I rented a flat – where we weren’t allowed pets.
My partner promised me I could have a dog – when we have our own house.
Then finally, finally, finally, we bought a house of our own! Hurray! Puppy time!
Because a cat moved in. A cat called Boots.
This cat does not belong to us, he belongs to our next door neighbours, but because they also have dogs, he won’t go inside their house. So he comes into ours. He’s smelly, he often has fleas, he can’t shut his mouth properly and has the most pathetic meow you’ve ever heard. But he is the friendliest cat in the world. He climbs on our window-ledge and shouts at me through the window to let him in, whenever we open the front door he immediately dashes inside, he’s endlessly patient and gentle with children who come round, and always sneaks into the bedroom if we accidentally leave the door open, and he sits on my lap and purrs and purrs. And we wouldn’t have him any other way. We call him “Push-In” Boots. We never expected to have a cat, we didn’t plan for a cat, we didn’t buy a cat, but we love him.
Stories are sometimes like this too. I am a plotter – I plan my books in advance, and know exactly what’s going to happen before I start writing…except usually I don’t. Often once I start writing the characters stubbornly decide NOT to follow my well-thought-out road map of plot and go off on in a completely different direction and have adventures of their own! I can try to guide them back to the path, but quite honestly, they usually know best. They find a more interesting route off the beaten track, through the jungle to somewhere I didn’t even know existed! All I can do is follow, and enjoy the journey. It’s very unpredictable, often scary, but always exciting.
Maybe one day I’ll get my puppy. Maybe one day I’ll write a book that goes exactly as I planned, but then again, maybe not. Life, like writing, is an adventure, with twists and turns you can’t predict or plan for. You never know where you’ll end up. All you can do is enjoy the ride, be open to the unexpected, and make the most of every single moment.
Katie Dale is the author of MUMNESIA! the story of twelve-year-old Lucy whose Mum is so overprotective and out of date, Lucy can’t believe she was EVER a teenager – until the day her mum wakes up with no memory of the last thirty years and thinks she’s a twelve-year-old time-travelling from the 1980s!
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books