Ruth Taylor on promoting her new non-fiction children's book, The Cat and the Captain

February 25th, 2021

Post by Ruth Taylor

A non-fiction book for children sounded to me as though it would be one of the least popular genres in the world. However, if the subject is location-specific local marketing is made easier. 

Having contacted Peterborough Tourist Information Centre, I obtained from the very helpful assistant details of:

·      independent book shops

·      library

·      museum

·      local press office

·      cathedral

and I was sent a map. I planned my walking tour from the railway station and booked tickets.

The Cat and the Captain is about the voyages of the navigator Matthew Flinders and his faithful cat, Trim. Flinders was the first man to circumnavigate Australia in 1802 – 1803, to meticulously chart three quarters of the coast and gave it its name. He was a Lincolnshire man so is known in that county, but is hardly known in other parts of the UK. Although I admit that Peterborough is in Cambridgeshire, it is only 30 miles from Flinders’ hometown of Donington, in Lincolnshire, so I decided to do a ‘reci’ (reconnoiter). I packed my alluring glove puppet of Flinders’ cat, Trim, peanut butter sandwiches and iced water and we set off.

I assumed that no-one in Peterborough would have heard of Flinders (it not being in Lincolnshire) and that because of Covid the library, museum and local press office would be closed. I was not wrong. However, I dared not delay my journey until everything was open after the pandemic because it would risk aborting the whole plan for possibly a year.

Regardless, Trim relished everything about our day out. Two assistants in Waterstones bookstore decided that their children’s book purchaser would love The Cat and the Captain because Trim was black and so was her cat. I was handed her contact details. As cat lovers they chorused: ‘Ahhh,’ when Trim waved goodbye. So maybe I’ll get a sale there. 

The cathedral bookshop education officer would be interested, I was told, and I went away from the magnificent ancient cathedral with her e-mail address on a slip of paper. 

Next time our trip will be to Grantham, back to Lincolnshire, Flinders’ familiar home ground. They’ll know him in Grantham. Besides, it’s where my illustrator, David Parkins, came from.

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