Appealing Illustrations which are Whimsical but Tempered with a Dash of Quirky, Edward Gorey-style Grimness

Cats from Green Alley

How does one leave a middling – that is, average – life behind? And what does an unconventional existence look like?

In the second installment of a three-part series, local author R.S. Vern explores these questions and continues the story of Haee, a cat which is pretty average in every way, save for his exceptionally long tail. The first book in this illustrated series, Haee: The Cat with a Crooked Tail, saw the titular feline leaving behind a comfortable and routine life with his owners, Tom and Jane, to experience life on the streets.

Like the first book, The Unconventional Life of Haee features appealing illustrations which are whimsical but tempered with a dash of quirky, Edward Gorey-style grimness. As the story opens, Haee’s explorations have taken him to the back alley behind the neighbourhood. Here, he befriends a motley crew of cats, including Whie, who is ostracised by the others because of her “unusually big red nose”.

Unlike the others, Haee is attracted to Whie, who he finds “really special and interesting”, and not just because of her oversize schnoz. For starters, the latter is vegetarian – her way of “saving the world and making it a better and more harmonious place to live in”.

Whie’s “queer eating habit” befuddles all the other cats, except Haee. (It’s easy to see the parallel to the human world here: As a once-vegetarian, I can honestly say that few things perplex omnivores more than someone who won’t eat anything which once had a pulse.) Fascinated, Haee learns to eat leftover pizza discarded in the alley instead of the usual roaches and rats. He even goes so far as to implement a set of rules forbidding the alley cats from eating any living creature.

As with many noble New Year’s resolutions and good intentions, things go according to plan for a while. However, it doesn’t take too long before the cats tire of their new lifestyles and revert to their old, roach-hunting ways. Disillusioned, Haee decides to move on without Whie, who is perfectly “comfortable with her life” in the alley.

Ending on an inconclusive note, this book sets the stage for book three, where we’ll (hopefully) find out the answers to questions such as: Will Haee return to a safe and comfortable life with Tom and Jane? Will he see Whie again? And will he ever find the different life he is looking for? Then again, as the author notes, perhaps life is not about achieving that perfect ending, but “having that extraordinary journey”, where dreaming and searching never stops.

By Lynette Koh, Senior Writer, ilovebooks.com

R.S. Vern wins the IndieReader Discovery Awards 2013!

Haee The cat with a crooked tail book cover wins

Middling Industries proudly announces “Haee The cat with a crooked tail” as the winner of IndieReader Discovery Awards 2013 under kid’s category. First published in June 2012, this is the first book in its series “Haee and the other middlings”.

R.S. Vern, creator and author of this series, says she is deeply encouraged by this win. When she first started writing this series, her purpose was to deter children from wanting to grow up too fast and furious. Through the ingenious eyes of a cat, she pans out a story about the endless frustrations and dilemmas grown ups face in this middling world of the 21st century.

R.S. Vern calls herself one serious middling – urbanised, bored, most of the time, confused. She recounts a particular incident at a dinner party which left her a deep imprint that fueled her writing on middlings.

“I was at a dinner party surrounded by great friends, drinking myself silly when I suddenly looked around me and I felt very alone. I was listening and not listening at the same time when the hostess was giving her speech and I had all kinds of silly thoughts running through my mind. What if I was born differently? What if this was the 1940s? What if George Clooney truly asked me out for breakfast? Would I say yes? What if Lady Gaga was my girlfriend? Would I start wearing her underwear? But there wasn’t any what-ifs. There was only as-is. The present, the truth and you.” – R.S. Vern

Middlings, as R.S. Vern defines, almost always wish they can have a different life. Even when you drive a fast car, have a great career, a great bunch of friends to hang out with, you’ll still think of having another life. And you feel trapped when 99% of the time, you are almost never going to have that other life. You go on searching for new experiences, at times feeling lost and aimless. But Vern believes there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So for you alone, bored and lost people out there, take on chance on this very peculiar indie read.

About IndieReader Discovery Award
The goal of the annual IndieReader Discovery Award (IRDA) is to find talented writers and great books and is open to all self-published books with a valid ISBN. Judging is based on the quality of writing and the originality of the story. The judging panel includes top agents, traditional publishers, PR people, bloggers, and book reviewers. More information here.