Don’t tell me your teacher assigned a book report on Queenie and Arthur! And now you’ve come here for help. Maybe even in hope of a book report actually written by the author of the book himself, and therefore bound to be the right stuff. But guess what: my school days are over! I never have to do another book report in my life. Or figure out when two trains starting from X and Y will meet, or any of that stuff. I laugh at X and Y!
Sorry about the book report. I never meant to add to your burden. First and foremost – as in any novel, in my opinion – the Queenie and Arthur books are meant to entertain. A writer of fiction can do all sorts of other things, too, but if no one’s entertained enough to keep turning the pages, what have you got? A tree falling in the forest. That’s what you’ve got - as in that old problem in philosophy: if a tree falls in the forest with no one around to hear it, how do you know it made a sound? Arthur can hear that falling tree from a long way off, by the way, much farther than you, although he might not know what happened. Queenie can hear it, too, and know the cause, but she finds the whole subject boring.
People say, “How did you get in the minds of a dog and a cat?” And the answer is what I just hinted at: the imagination. It’s the most powerful of all the writing tools, more than vocab, or sentence structure, or grammar. I believe that all of us are born with an imagination. And, like a muscle, you can make it stronger by using it. For muscles, you can pump iron. For the imagination, you can sit in the shade and let your mind wander. When you get good at it, you can make your mind wander in the direction you want it to.
I hear you: none of this helps on the book report. Okay. Here’s a little crumb. Before you write anything, step back and ask yourself: What is this about? What do I want to say? What is the engine that will drive this book report, story, or novel? In the case of the Queenie and Arthur mysteries, it’s a two-stroke engine. Stroke one is their rivalry. Stroke two is their love of the Reddy family – Harmony, Bro, and Mom – and life at the Blackberry Hill Inn in the Green Mountains of Vermont.
And here’s something the other kids might not know. The vs. in the book titles stands for versus, meaning against. It’s originally a Latin word meaning towards – in other words, towards conflict. Looping in a little Latin is guaranteed to raise your grade every time! Try it and see.
Peter Abrahams (aka Spencer Quinn)
Ruff vs. Fluff (A Queenie and Arthur Novel)
Coming out March 26, 2019
From the outside, Queenie the cat and Arthur the dog appear to have a lot in common. Both pets live in the charming Blackberry Hill inn. They both love their humans, twins Harmony and Bro. They both have a fondness for sausage.
But that doesn’t change the fact that they are mortal enemies.
Goofy, big-hearted Arthur loves everyone he’s ever met . . . except the snobby, scheming cat who’s devoted her life to ruining his. Queenie is a bit choosier. And who can blame her? When you’re brilliant AND exquisitely beautiful, you can’t be expected to rub tails with commoners. Especially not slobbery dogs. But when the twins’ beloved cousin is framed for murder, Queenie and Arthur must work together to clear his name . . . something Queenie finds distasteful. Can two enemies put aside their differences long enough to solve the mystery?