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Q&A with Katie Brosnan

Hi Katie! What inspired you to write Keith Among the Pigeons?
The story grew out of an encounter with a cat called Keith that I used to pass on my way to work. An unusual name for a cat, I started to wonder what his day was like and if it was perhaps a bit unusual too. I then developed the story and character of Keith while studying on an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.

Do you share Keith's love of pigeons?
I love pigeons; as a big flock they can appear all the same, but looking closer they are all individuals, you can’t pigeonhole them! They are often seen as pests and not liked, so I enjoy the idea that they could be admired by a cat, a cat who is expected to be their arch enemy.

How would you describe Keith?
Keith is a bit of an outsider, he explores his feelings in writing with his
‘hi-coos’ and likes to nap in trees, wash himself in bird baths and dreams of being part of the pigeon’s world as he doesn’t feel comfortable in the cat’s world. I think many people feel a bit different or on the outside of what they are expected to be, especially while growing up. I felt it at school and regularly witnessed it later working in a secondary school. Whether it's your hair refusing to respond to current trends, your interests, sexuality or cultural background; accepting and celebrating who you are as an individual is a great step towards realising you belong in this world, just as much as anyone else and you make it so much more interesting by just being you.

Well said! What technique did you use to create the illustrations?
The process of making the artwork was inspired by traditional screen printing that I had access to at Cambridge School of Art. I am very much inspired by mid-century artists, designers and illustrators who used a limited colour palette and made use of bold shapes to communicate. Not having easy access to these print facilities after leaving, I have worked by hand and
compiled layers digitally to still retain some of the feel of the screen printing process.

Can you sum up the book in one sentence?
The story is for anyone who feels that the way they are expected to be doesn’t reflect who they truly are.

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