Several years ago I took a writing class from Randall Wright. Every Saturday a few of us would go and sit in the sunroom on the back of his house and learn about the craft of writing and workshop our novels in progress. Randall was working on his own book and he would read us excerpts from it. It was the delightful tale of a cat that lives in a pub in London where Charles Dickens comes to work on his novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Randall was co-writing the book with Carmen Agra Deedy. The excerpts he read to us were wonderful, delightful, and creative. I couldn’t wait to read it. It has taken more than 3 years for that book to finally be in my hands, but it was worth the wait and it is worth a read.
Skilley is a delightful cat who takes up residence in Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, a pub favorite of local authors. Skilley is supposed to catch mice, but he prefers to eat cheese. A pact is arranged by Pip, a mouse skilled in reading and writing, where Skilley is provided cheese in exchange for a catch-and-release mousing ruse designed to appease the cook. It all goes well until a Pinch, a distasteful alley cat, also comes to live at the pub and discovers that Skilley and the mice are also harboring one of the queen’s royal ravens. Mischief and mayhem ensue as friendship and loyalty is tested. And finally, in the end, Charles Dickens has a timeless opening line for his novel.
Randall Wright is a wonderful person and a fabulous writing teacher, with a passion for good writing and knack for teaching structure and tension. I loved those Saturdays and I loved finally being able to read, The Cheshire Cheese Cat: Dickens of a Tale. It is witty. It is well written. It is amazingly seamless for a book co-authored by two different people. It is worth a read.
On a side note: Amy Hackworth sat by me many of those Saturdays in Randall’s sunroom. She has co-authored a book “Heaven is Here” with air plane crash survivor, Stephanie Nielson (from the well-known blog Nie Nie Dialogues). It is on pre-order now. I haven’t read it, but I’m guessing it is also worth a read.