Friday, February 7, 2014

Author Interview with Nick Bruel



The DMS was lucky enough to interview Nick Bruel. Fairday recently reviewed his book Bad Kitty: School Daze, and we are excited to learn more about this naughty story. So, without further ado... take it away, Nick!


What inspired you to write Bad Kitty?

The idea came to me much like all of the ideas I've ever used: the title came first. I employ a personal creative device in which I contemplate book and story titles first. If I run across one I really like, I then contemplate the story that can go with it. Most of the time, I contemplate an idea that can't really sustain itself as a book. But every now and then, as with "Bad Kitty", I come up with something I can really use.

How long does it take you to write and illustrate a Bad Kitty book?

Roughly 9 months. But I've been known to hand work in after only 6 months.

Where did you come up with the main characters: Kitty and Puppy? What about Dr. Lagomorph?

As I mentioned, Kitty came about as a title first. But I did draw upon all of the different cats I've known through my life as a template for her personality. Cats really are quite cool and aloof on the outside. But inside they are a neurotic mess. I can relate to that.

As for Puppy, he came about from a need to find a proper ending for the very first book “Bad Kitty”. I could have ended the book with "And now she was a very, very, good, good, good kitty," but I didn't think that would have been a very satisfying ending. I wanted to make her bad again. My problem, however, was that while food was what made her bad in the first place, she now had all of the food she wanted. I needed something even bigger than food to disrupt her world. A dog seemed like the right answer.


Dr. Lagomorph came about right after I completed and handed in the final work for “Bad Kitty For President”. I was contemplating my next project that eventually became “Bad Kitty: School Daze”. Meanwhile, I decided to treat myself to a movie that happened to be “X-Men: First Class”. I walked out of that theater saturated with thoughts about my next Bad Kitty book and super-mutants. At some point two of those thoughts crossed paths, and the notion of a cute little bunny rabbit who fancies himself a diabolical mutant super-villain whose ability would be that he can transform himself into a cute little bunny rabbit at will came to mind. I HAD to use that character in this book no matter what. And I'm glad I did.

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

I loved all of the usual suspects as a kid - Suess, Sendak, Silverstein. But, there was one author who goes largely unremembered today that I really liked, and that was a guy named Jack Kent. The only thing of his that might be in print today would be “There's No Such Thing As a Dragon”. But I always really liked his stories. He was, by the way, one of the very rare children's books creators who also sustained a comic strip in the newspapers for quite a while. The strip was “King Aroo”, and it's been recently re-discovered. Crockett (Harold and the Purple Crayon) Johnson comes to mind as another creator who followed that path.



Jack Kent did a book I adored as a kid called “Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale” about a cat that walks through town eating everything in his path, including the entire town. One could argue that this book did have an effect on me great enough to later create my own cat character who likes to eat.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

I like where I am now in Briarcliff Manor. I also loved Tarrytown. The point is that I just like to settle. I don't really need anything more than a good table and my supplies. If the opportunity came to move to the South of France, I would pass. I just like to settle.

If you could befriend one of the characters in your Bad Kitty books, who would you befriend? Why?

I AM Strange Kitty. I already am someone who would rather sit at home and read comic books if left to my own devices. Some of my favorite passages to write are the ones of SK and his mouse friends just talking to each other in their comic book geeky wonderfulness. So, of all the characters in these books, he's the one I relate to most closely. 

What are some of the tools you use to create the illustrations for Bad Kitty? Can you tell us about your technique?

Pencil, crow quill pen with waterproof ink, watercolor and gouache paints. I paint all of my backgrounds with watercolor and all of my main characters (like Kitty) with gouache because that flat opaqueness that gouache provides really helps the character stand out from everything else in the painting.

Do you have a pet that needs to be taught a lesson at Diabla Von Gloom’s School for Wayward Pets?

My cat Esmerelda. And my daughter Izzy, pretty much every day around bedtime.


We were excited to meet Mr. Bruel at the 2013 UCONN Children's Book Fair. Stop by the post to learn more about his writing and illustrations! 




Enter the book giveaway to win a signed hardcover edition of this book! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below. :)

Giveaway ends Sunday, February 23rd
Open to US and International 


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47 comments:

  1. How interesting that Nick came up with the title first, I never thought of that. They are usually the most difficult part of writing for me. I love his illustrations...very talented indeed. It doesn't hurt to be a little neurotic as far as creativity goes. :)

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    1. Anna- I agree with you that Nick is very talented. I thought it was fascinating to come up with the title first, too. :) ~L

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  2. I have four dogs, two birds, and a cat. I have a couple of dogs with severe behavioral issues and all my dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Great fun.

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    1. Michelle- It sounds like you have lots of interesting animals and I am sure you would enjoy this book. :) ~L

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  3. I have a gorgeous Silver Shaded Persian girl cat. <3 She just turned one :) and I love her so much. Sigh. Anyway. Thank you so much for this giveaway. <3 And the awesome post :D Only read one Bad Kitty book, that I did not like, but I adored the drawings so I would love to read more :)
    GFC follow as Carina Olsen.

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    1. Carina- I have seen your cat on your blog and she is so cute! Glad you enjoyed the drawings in the Bad Kitty book you read. :) ~L

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  4. Great interview. I especially like the illustrations included :)

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    1. Julie- Thanks! The illustrations are lots of fun. :) ~L

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  5. This was such a fun interview! I loved the info and especially the pictures. Having a puppy to upset Bad Kitty's world was a great idea. Wishing Nick much success! :)

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    1. Lexa- So happy that you enjoyed the interview. I agree that the puppy certainly makes things interesting. :) ~L

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  6. Loved the interview. I was just looking at the Bad Kitty books at the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughter's school. They look great.

    I have a dog and a cat right now. My cat has quite the attitude, so the title of this series makes total sense to me. ;)

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    1. Kelly- If your cat has an attitude then I bet you and your daughter would love this book and series. :) ~L

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  7. This gave me a good laugh "But inside they are a neurotic mess. I can relate to that." I think we can ALL relate to that. Or, at least, I like to think we all can :)

    I only have fish at the moment, but growing up I had tons of pets. My favorite were always my goats. Someday soon I'll have another. Or a dog. :)

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    1. Meradeth- I can relate to the neurotic mess, too. :) I love that you had goats growing up- I have always been drawn to them at country fairs. :) ~L

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  8. I love the illustrations! I think most of us have know a bad kitty. :)

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    1. Bish- I agree with you that most of know a bad kitty or two. :) ~L

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  9. Hahahaha. Great interview. We have barn cats and they can be quite bad some days. I guess we all have our days. Ha. I will enter the giveaway, but I'll have to buy the book if I don't win. Nick's book sounds like one you just have to own. :-)

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    1. Robyn- Thanks! You are right- we do all have our days! I hope you enjoy Nick's books- they are so unique. :) ~L

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  10. Jess, thanks so much for the intro to Nick! Enjoyed the interview. Like Robyn said, this sounds like a must have book. :)

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    1. Karen- Glad to introduce you to Nick. I hope you enjoy this one. :) ~L

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  11. lol, loved his comment - "I AM strange Kitty." I think all authors have one character that is so much like them.
    He seems like a fun writer.

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    1. Donna- Nick is such a fun and amazing person. If you ever see him doing a book signing near you- I recommend you go and meet him. He is super nice. I agree that authors have a character that they are probably most like. :) ~L

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  12. Hi! First of all, thanks for your comments on my book blog and personal blog. It's very thoughtful and those comments made my day.
    Aannnd.. I love this black and white theme on your blog!

    And seriously, I want that book! Kitty!!!! Thanks so much for holding this giveaway, Jess! *hugs*

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    1. Miss Reith Jerevinan- I have been enjoying visiting your blog and you are welcome for the comments. I am glad they made your day. Thanks for the compliment on my blog. :)

      Bad Kitty is a fun read! Glad you stopped by. ~Jess

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  13. So, for a pet... I'd always want one. I did have. A few dogs, bunnies, and even peacocks. LOL. My family and I are so happy for them. But now, we can only keep a turtle and some fishes.

    I wish I can have my own space where I could keep dogs, cats, bunnies, guinea pigs, hamsters... =)

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    1. Miss Reith Jerevinan- Wow! You have had lots of pets. :) Turtles and fish are fun too. I bet you will have a blast when you have your own space one day, but enjoy where you are now. :) ~L

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  14. I love your Bad Kitty Books and so do the children I work with! I have a dog and used to have cats.

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    1. Anne- How wonderful that the children you work with love the Bad Kitty series. Yeah! Thanks for visiting. :) ~L

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  15. Sounds like a good read for children. Sometimes I read to my niece, so I'l keep Bad Kitty in mind :)

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    1. Gaby- This is a fun series for kids. I love that you read to your niece and hope she will enjoy Bad Kitty's antics. :) ~L

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  16. Love Bad Kitty! Hilarious stuff! Me? Yes, I have pets. A dog that resembles a polish sausage with legs, and two cats, one of whom is an opera singer.

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    1. Cathy- Your pets sound hilarious! As a pet lover, I am sure you will appreciate the Bad Kitty books and their humor. :) ~L

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  17. Mr. Bruel is a great guy! I like the back story of Dr. Lagomorph! :D His new book, Bad Kitty Drawn to Trouble is hilarious! :D

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    1. Erik- He is a great guy! I haven't read his latest book, but I will have to pick it up. Great to know you are a fan and that you enjoy the humor in Mr. Bruel's books. :) ~L

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  18. The Bad Kitty books are some of the first books my daughter truly enjoyed. Now I need some written on a middle school level!

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    1. Crazy Lady Teacher- How awesome that this series got your daughter into reading. I hope she finds some stories along the same lines at her current reading level! Maybe she would enjoy graphic novels. :) ~L

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  19. +JMJ+

    What a cool interview! I don't even like cats, but now I want to read all the Bad Kitty books! =D

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    1. +JMJ+

      PS -- My family has a Yorkie mix. We love her, but she's not very disciplined! LOL!

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    2. JMJ- Yeah! So happy that you liked the interview. The Bad Kitty books are definitely fun. Your Yorkie must keep you entertained. :) ~L

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  20. My daughter adores these books (and not just because we have two naughty black cats!). Great interview!

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    1. Sherrie- Awesome that your daughter loves these books and I am sure having naughty kitties helps her connect to the stories. :) ~L

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  21. How marvellous. One of our cats could definitely have done with going to this school as she terrorised the local dogs and once stole a joint of beef which she brought home with her.

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    1. Tracy- Your cat seems like she keeps everyone on their toes and I bet you would be able to relate to the school in this book. :) ~L

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  22. Great giveaway , great illustrations , had two dogs but they got too old , as all animals do

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    1. Joan- The illustrations are lots of fun. Thanks for visiting. :) ~L

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  23. Thank you Jessica! This is a nice surprise!:)

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    1. You are welcome, Karen! Hope you enjoy Bad Kitty's adventure. :) ~Jess

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