I have been in love with Bob ever since I read the British edition of A Street Cat Named Bob back in April of last year. The book was released in the US last week, and is already climbing the bestseller lists. It will debut at #7 on the New York Times Bestseller List next week. I’ve been following James and Bob on their Facebook page for the past year, and I am thrilled for the incredible success they’ve been experiencing. As far as life changing cats go, Bob is in a category of his own.
I was delighted when the US publisher offered me the opportunity to send a few questions across the Atlantic to James Bowen.
James, when we last “spoke” via email in May of last year, I asked you how your life had changed since the book came out in the UK. Your answer at the time was “It hasn’t changed a huge amount really, I still play music most days with Bob around Covent Garden in London. That said, we do get a lot more attention than we did before.” I’m guessing that your answer will be a little different this time around! What has changed for you and Bob over the past year?
The main change is that we no longer need to be on the streets. For now, at least, our days busking and selling The Big Issue are over. In the books, I don’t make any secret of the fact that life on the streets of London is hard. It isn’t a place that is overflowing with the milk of human kindness! So being free from the pressure of having to get up in the morning, get the bus into central London and then put up with the weather, the regular abuse from passers-by and the pressure of having to earn enough money to keep Bob and I going for a few days is incredibly nice.
I’ve been enjoying following you and Bob on your Facebook page. Going by the pictures from your public events, it looks like Bob is taking his fame in stride. Is there ever a time where he gets stressed at public events? If so, how do you handle it?
Bob enjoys the attention, but he does have his limits. He can get a little grumpy if people prod and poke and stick flashlights in his face for hours on end. And who can blame him? He is always my number one priority, so we have introduced stricter rules when he does make public appearances. People can’t just come up and stroke him and we have banned flash photography. We also make sure that he gets plenty of rest between events.
Who came up with the idea of “Around the World in 80 Bobs?” It’s brilliant!
It was partly inspired by our fans on Facebook and Twitter. Someone posted a picture of the cover of a book with Bob’s face looking out over the New York skyline. Then someone did something similar in the cable car that runs over the Thames in London. We thought it would be great to encourage our fans all over the world to show us where they were reading the book, so Around the World in 80 Bobs was born. Garry, who writes the books with me, came up with the title and set it up.
You and Bob have been doing some fundraising with the Blue Cross charity in England. Can you tell us a little more about that?
After the amazing year we had in 2012, we decided that 2013 was going to be the year that we started giving something back. We decided to adopt a charity and the Blue Cross was an obvious choice. Not only do they do great work in looking after pets, they specifically helped Bob when he was ill and when he needed microchipping years ago. So far we’ve raised more than £13,000. I don’t know how much that is in dollars – but it’s a lot! (Editor’s note: at today’s exchange rate, that’s $20,000.) We’re very proud of the work we do there and encourage everyone to give at our special page http://www.justgiving.com/streetcatbob
I heard that there’s a movie deal in the works. A year ago I asked you who should play your part IF that were to happen, and now it’s actually becoming reality! I can think of any number of actors who could play your part, but what about Bob? Who will play his part?
We don’t want to jinx things so aren’t going to say anything more about the movie. Let’s just say that we are in talks. Who would play Bob? He would have to play himself I think. There’s no one quite like him.
Do you still have time for your music?
I still play my guitar at home and write the occasional song. But, as I explained earlier, I don’t need to busk any more. The music is very much on the back burner at the moment. We have more than enough to do with the books and public appearances.
I love seeing you wear the “Real Men Love Cats” t-shirt, which was designed by my friend Toni at RC Tees. Do you get a lot of comments about the shirt?
I’m always getting comments about the shirt, which makes me happy because it’s a great design and Toni is a great lady.
Are there any plans for you and Bob to come to the US?
Not at the moment, but who knows in the future? One thing I am sure about is that if we do come over, we will have to travel in a way that is comfortable for Bob. There’s no way that I would put him in the hold on a plane, for instance. So that probably will make it difficult – but not impossible – to travel across the Atlantic.
I just read The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat* and of course, I loved it just as much as the first book. Are there any plans for a third book?
We are currently working on a couple of children’s books, so the third book in the adult series isn’t really on the agenda – at the moment. But you can never say never. Especially as our lives keeps taking such unexpected twists and turns!
What’s next for you and Bob?
Apart from the children’s books and the charity work, we are trying to save money to buy a new home. We’d quite like to move out of London, to the countryside. I think it would be good for both of us to breathe some clean air and take life a little easier there. Only time will tell if that particular dream comes true.
I would like to thank James for taking time out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer my questions, and his US publicist for making this interview possible. I’ll leave you with this photo of James and Bob. It shows the bond between these two soul mates so perfectly, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I look at it.
All photos from the James Bowen & Street Cat Bob Facebook page. Photos at top of post and bottom of post by David Parker.
Mews and Nips will return next week.
* The World According to Bob is currently only available in the UK, and there are no plans at this time to publish the book in the US. You can purchase the book from Amazon.uk in both print and Kindle versions. Look for a review here on The Conscious Cat next week.