People sometimes ask me what I've been doing since I wrote The Outlaw Varjak Paw, all those years ago.
The short answer is that I've been writing a new book called PHOENIX. This one's not about Varjak Paw; it's not even about cats. It's about people this time, and also aliens, because it's an epic space adventure set across a whole Galaxy. It took me nearly 7 years to finish it, but it was worth every minute, because I think it's the best thing I've written yet. Dave McKean is working on the illustrations right now, and it'll be published next year.
I'm going to be telling you all about it in this blog, as well as giving you news on various Varjak Paw events, and sharing some of my interests and inspirations with you. I'm looking forward to it!
In the meantime, here's one of the images I just showed to Dave. It's one I looked at a lot while writing PHOENIX. Click on the picture to see it large!
Oh I hope this doesn't sound rude, but do you have any idea if you'll ever write any more books about varjak? When I was about 8 I received a copy of it from a family member and loved it, and I've recently gone back and reread it, and read your other book, the outlaw varjak paw, for the first time, and they were just as great as I remembered, even better, actually. Of all the books I've read, I can't remember staying up as late as I have reading these, or have I had such a strong reaction to even some of my other favorite books.
VARJAK PAW OUTLAW ASWELL AS THE FIRST BOOK IS AMAZING AND INSIPIRING !!! WHEN I CAME TO THE END OF THE BOOK I FELT SAD BECUASE THE BOOK IS ENDING ! :'( YOUR BOOK IS SO AMAZING AND THE CHARACTERS YOU MADE IS AMAZING AS I QUESTIONED MY CAT ' WHY CANT YOU BE LIKE VARJAK PAW?' XD PLEASE DONT LET YOUR AMAZING BOOK OF VARJAK PAW END HERE !MAKE MORE !!!! AS IM ONEOFYOUR BIGGEST FANS!!! :D
MIYA AMIN 11 YEARS OLD
BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ IN MY WHOLE LIFE KEEP ON WRITING ( VARJAK PAW;)
AND I SEEM INTRESTED IN YOUR BOOK 'CATWATCHING'
AND I'D LIKE TO ASK WHAT IS IT ABOUT ? ! :)
Hi Jade, thank you so much for that amazing comment, what you said really means a lot to me. It took me 5 years to write Varjak and 3 years to write Outlaw, but all the hard work feels worthwhile when I hear lovely things like that....
And your question is not rude at all! The simple answer is yes, there will definitely be a third Varjak Paw book one day - but it won't be for a while. I need to be sure what the story is before I write it, and I'm not quite there yet. I've written about this question a bit here.
In the meantime, though, I have been working hard on PHOENIX, and I'm very excited about it indeed - I think it's my best book yet. I really hope you will give it a go when it comes out next year! I'll be writing lots more about it here; I might even have some of Dave McKean's incredible cover art to share soon....
Hi Miya! Thank you too for your lovely comment - I'm so glad you liked the books! Don't worry, the story will not end with Outlaw - there will be a third book one day. Have a look at my reply to Jade above for more info....
Thank you so much - that's an amazing thing for a writer to hear!
Catwatching isn't my book, but it's a factual book about cats that I found very useful while writing Varjak Paw - if you're interested in cats, it's really worth reading!
Wow, fast response, I really appreciate how you're interacting with everyone! I'll definitely be looking forward to phoenix!
I have a few questions, I hope that's okay, obviously you don't have to answer all of them, or any of them for that matter. Does music ever inspire you while you're writing? In the varjak paw universe, do any other animals have anything similar to the way, or can any animal use the way if they learn it? Also, how did Sally Bones do that to Holly's eye, or is it even correct to assume that it was Sally Bones's doing? Thank you!
This was the best book I have ever read!!!!!!!! I am a big fan!!!!! As soon as the new book comes out I am totally reading it!!!! You are so awesome!!!
Wow, thank you - that means a lot! Phoenix is currently scheduled to come out in August 2013, but come back to this site from time to time, I'll be posting more news & updates as we get nearer to publication....
Hello again Jade! Thank you for the kind words - I'm currently having a bit of time off between books, as I've now finished Phoenix but won't start writing the next one till New Year - so I've got a bit more time to do things like this blog... I'm very much enjoying hearing from readers, so if you have any friends who are Varjak Paw fans, do tell them about this site!
And thanks for your questions! To take them one by one:
1) Yes, music is crucial to me while writing, though different books have had different soundtracks. Would you be interested in knowing more? I've been thinking about doing some posts about exactly this question...
2) Well, it was important to me when writing Varjak that everything should be from Varjak's point of view - if there's something he doesn't know, we can't know it either. Having said that, I think it's likely that the answer is yes - there are many human martial arts styles that use the attributes of different animals, after all. (And if you're interested in this kind of thing, there's a whole new system of martial arts in Phoenix that I think you'll enjoy!)
3) Aha! Yes, those are great questions... unfortunately, I can't say anything about them just yet, because they have a lot to do with my thoughts for the third book, but I'm pretty sure they will be answered one day!
Question about holly really interesting. I also thought about how it changed under the influence Sully Bones. But for me the most interesting thing in the book is the inner struggle of Sully and Varjak. In the book you gave Sally Bones an incredible force. She not only fought well but one look subordinated all around. Tell me please: how do you come up with or where did you get that idea?
If you went more in depth into what music inspires you for different things, etc, that would be really neat!
The more I see you talking about your new book, the more interesting it sounds, wow, I'm definitely excited to read it when it comes out.
And for the third question, ahahaha I kind of figured you couldn't answer that. I'll be excited to find that out, eventually, too!
Wow, I'm so glad I found your blog, thank you so much for talking to me and answering my questions!
Thank you, that's very kind of you! Sally Bones was one of those characters who more or less wrote herself. It seemed like she was just the kind of character who would lead others not by being the biggest or the strongest, but by having more inner power, somehow.
You're most welcome Jade, I'm glad you found it too! Come back and have a look every so often, I'm hoping to post something new most weeks... and I will definitely be posting something about music, so thank you for the suggestion!
Hello dear SF Said. My name is Ivan. You're my favorite writer. I really want to get your autograph, but to come to England kk unfortunately I can not. Please tell me if I send you by mail feet varyak book, you can sign and send it back?
Hello Ivan, thank you very much for your kind words, that means a lot! Leave me your email address in a comment, and I'll email you with a suggestion.
Dear SF Said
Many thanks for the autograph)
You're most welcome, Ivan!
I watched your favorite movie. Atanarjuat fast runner. I liked him. He looks like my favorite movie "Mongol".
I'm glad you enjoyed Atanarjuat! It's an amazing film, I've seen it many times, and it's always great... If I could write a story as good as that one day, I'd be happy!
I enjoyed Mongol too - I like the actor who plays Temudjin.
Hello this is Pheonix from Beatrix Potter (remember me the one who said I had a pet hamster called Pheonix) I would like to thank you for coming to our school it was very kind of you. Your talk was very inspiring and interesting. I am very keen to read Varjak paw as it sounds amazing!!! I remember when you read a chapter from the outlaw Varjak Paw and you have done great description. One day I would love to be a writter!Also please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello this is Kitkat a Y6 child from Beatrix Potter school.
I enjoyed your talk and the way you told us how you started on being an author. I never new it would take 5 years to just do 17 drafts. If I new it would take be 5 years I would not of botherd. I haven't read your books but I am going to. My younger sister is reading The Outlaw of Varjark Paw and she really enjoys it. I am really looking forward to reading your new book Phoenix. Also please reply to email@example.com
Thank you again for coming! :)
Hi! This is PheonixRising from Beatrix Potter . You came to my school on World Book Day 2013 and it was amazing. I bought your first book, Varjak Paw,and finished it on the same night because I just couldn't put it down. I can't wait to read Pheonix! I am very very excited because pheonixes are my favourite animal and when I was little I was convinced they were real. I still haven't read the outlaw varjak paw but I will be reading it soon.
Hello, recently you came to my school - Beatrix Potter Primary School- and gave my Year 6 class a speech. I myself have always wanted to be an author. I've thought of a few stories but every time I wrote them down they never seemed very good. So, when you told me and my class that no one can write a story perfect first time, and that you have to re-draft until you feel it's at it's best, I felt really inspired. I feel really priviliged to have met you and I ADORE your books! It's really special that you come and visit schools. We don't just think your another person who doesn't mean anything you say, we really believe your advice and I'm so thankful that you came to visit. Thankyou very much.
You came to my school in Earlsfield and talked to us about your book. I have read your first book it is really good and intriguing. I am going to buy your second book soon.
Do you know what the third varjak paw is going to be called yet.
Are you going to write another varjak paw if you are i will defiantly read it
Well, thank YOU for leaving me such a lovely comment, that really means a lot to me! Good luck with your writing, keep going and don't give up - if I could finally get a book published after all those rejections & drafts, I think you definitely can too!
Thank you very much! I hope you enjoy the second one as much as the first... if not more!
That's a good question... To be honest, I don't know yet; I think I'll only know when I've written it! I only knew the title of Phoenix very near the end of writing it. But I suspect the words 'Varjak Paw' will probably be in the title somewhere...
Thank you very much! Yes, I will definitely write a third Varjak Paw book one day - but it could be a while yet, because I think the third book will be about Varjak when he's older, and I need to be older too to write it, to know how it really feels! So my next book will be Phoenix, which is out in August 2013; and after that, there will probably be another science fiction/fantasy book - I'm working on the first draft of that one right now... And when that's finished... I may well be old enough to write the third Varjak Paw book!
Hello! I remember you (and your hamster) - thanks so much for visiting my website, and thanks for your kind words! I hope you enjoy reading Varjak Paw, and Phoenix, when it comes out in August... and good luck writing your own books, too!
Hello Kitkat! It was great to visit your school - thank you for visiting my site! I hope you enjoy reading the Varjak Paw books, and Phoenix! Come back and have a look at the blog every so often, I'll be posting something new here most weeks I hope...
Oh wow, what a great comment, thank you so much! It's brilliant that you read the whole book that night - I'm really glad you enjoyed it! Hope you enjoy Outlaw too, and Phoenix when it comes out in August!
Dear SF Said, My teacher is reading our class Varjak Paw in English, although we haven't finished it yet. My favourite character is Holly because she is harsh sometimes, but she is really kind once you get to know her! I'm definitely reading Outlaw of Varjak Paw when my class has finished reading Varjak Paw! I've tried out the seven skills of the Way but I've only got the hang of Slow Time so far! Yes, I know you must think I'm mad, but it's true!!!!!! Also I've got a question. Is Sally Bones related to Varjak? From Maia P.S Could you write a book about Holly's life before she met Varjak?
Hi Maia, and thanks so much for that fantastic comment! I'm really glad you like Holly - I like her too! To be honest, I don't think I'm going to write a book about Holly's life before she met Varjak - but if you would like to write that story, then I think you should!!! Good luck with your reading (I hope you enjoy Outlaw too!) - and with mastering the Seven Skills!
Dear SF Said, thank you for your lovely reply, maybe I will write Holly's story one day (I want to be an author when I'm older) and perhaps you'll read it! I hope this doesn't sound rude, but I am very curious to know what SF stands for in your name? I understand if you want to keep it private. Good luck with the launch of PHOENIX, I am definitely going to read it! From Maia
Well, thank you Maia, I really appreciate it! And best of luck with your writing - I will definitely read Holly's story if you write it! Your question isn't rude at all - S and F stand for Sabah and Falah, which are Arabic names & hard names to pronounce if you don't speak Arabic! People are always getting my name wrong, so I decided a long time ago that initials would be easier! Also, I like the look of 'SF Said' - I think the initials look quite writerly, like CS Lewis, or JRR Tolkein, or JK Rowling... though I started doing it before she did!
Dear Mr Said I loved both books. I have thought of an idea for the new book.
"Varjak Paw Warrior King". Foxes have come into the city and he must unite all the cat gangs to fight then he realises that the foxes need a home too. But can he make peace instead of war?
Catrin age 10
Hi Catrin, thanks so much for your lovely comment! That sounds like an interesting story, I really like your war & peace theme! To be honest, I don't think I will write it myself - but if you would like to write that story, then I think you definitely should!!!
In the meantime, please look out for my new book Phoenix in August - interestingly, it has a similar theme, with war & peace between humans and aliens...
My daughter Catherine loved both Varjak books very much. As a school project the have been asked to choose a character & write a profile. My daughter has chosen Omar. Some of it we could guess at but if you could let us know what went through your mind when you came up with this cat we could get really creative!!!!
My daughters class at school have just had to create a cat & to write a short piece on how they met varjak. Needless to say they got creative!!!!! We have loved the varjak books & so has our school. We are looking forward to read your new book soon
Thank you so much for your comment, and please thank Catherine for me too! I can't really add much to Omar's story, apart from what's in the book, apart from one thing: whenever I imagine Omar and Ozzie, I imagine them as Maine Coon cats!
Thanks so much Diane for the lovely comment - it's really great for a writer to hear that their work has been enjoyed! I hope both you and your daughter will also enjoy my new book Phoenix when it comes out in August...
On wish list on amazon!!!!
respected SF Said
Tell me please: what is the main idea of the book varjak outlaw?
What message would you give this book?
Hi Iliy, thank you for visiting sfsaid.com, and thank you for your question!
To be honest, I feel it's not really a writer's place to say what the message of a book is. That's something for readers to decide for themselves. Everyone reads differently, and I think each reader will take their own message from a book. For me, one of the greatest things about books is that they're open to many different interpretations, so I'm happy for my readers to reach their own conclusions!
Dear SF Said
Please can you tell me 10 unusual facts about yourself for an English project I'm doing.
Also, why did you write numbers for chapters and not words.
Hi Remi, thanks for visiting. I hope you're enjoying Varjak Paw!
To be honest, I can't think of 10 unusual facts about myself - everything about me seems very usual to me! You can probably find the information you're looking for by doing a google search, but just to get you started, here's one fact: I was born in Beirut, Lebanon. As I say, that doesn't seem unusual to me, but it might to some people!
As for the chapters having numbers - that's just how I like books to be. I like to know where I am in a book, and I find that numbered chapters help with that. I also find chapter titles a bit distracting or misleading sometimes, so I tend to just stick with numbers. I hope that answers your question!
I have just found out you are coming to our school (Taxal & Fernilee) on 8 july. Fantastic!!!
Catherine is really looking forward to it
Yes indeed - I'm really looking forward to it too! Come & say hello at the end if you like!
Thank you for writing varjak paw. Me and my class have read your book and we all have enjoyed it. I love to read your book and I cant wait to read your next book. eagerly waiting a reply, Madison smart. PS I love cats so that was a really good book for me to read.
Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Madison! I'm really glad you enjoyed Varjak Paw. I hope you enjoy The Outlaw Varjak Paw too – please let me know how it goes if you get a chance to read it!
Keep the Way alive,
thank you soooooooo much for replying i cant wait to tell my teacher. from madison 8 years old
Dear SF Said,
I really liked your book Varjak Paw. I can't wait to read The Outlaw Varjak Paw and The Phoenix. I am in Madison Smarts class and have read Varjak Paw together and really enjoyed it.
From George Cosgrove PS. Can't wait for reply!!!!
Dear SF Said,
I have read Varjak Paw, and have started reading The Outlaw Varjak Paw. I really enjoyed reading Varjak Paw, and I can't wait to read the Phoenix.
From George Cosgrove. PS. I really like cats!!!
Thanks again Madison - and please give my best wishes to your teacher too!
Thank you so much for your fantastic comment! I'm really glad you enjoyed Varjak Paw, and I hope you enjoy The Outlaw Varjak Paw and Phoenix as well. Please let me know what you think if you get a chance to read them!
Keep the Way alive,
Thanks again for your great comments! I really like cats too! If you're interested, I wrote a little bit about cats in these blog posts.
I hope you enjoy Phoenix too – this one isn't about Varjak, or even cats. It's about aliens and space and the stars – you can read a bit about it here. It's available now in the UK, and will be published in the US this year by Candlewick Press.
With best wishes,
Dear Mr Said,
I read both of the Varjak Paw books and I could not stop reading the books. The Varjak Paw books are the best books I have ever read. I would wonder if you could write more Varjak Paw books. I really liked how you used your imagination to write Varjak Paw and The Outlaw Varjak Paw. If you want to eMail me go to :
Thank you so much for your amazing comment about the Varjak Paw books! That really means a lot to me.
I am planning to write a third book about Varjak one day. I wrote a little bit about my idea for it here:
In the meantime, have you read my other book Phoenix yet? I think if you enjoyed Varjak, you'll enjoy it too!
Thanks again, and keep the Way alive!
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