Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: The tail of Danny Whiskers

This week, Futures is delighted to welcome Fawaz Al-Matrouk with his story about a rather remarkable animal: The tail of Danny Whiskers. When not writing about unusual cats, Fawaz directs films. You can find out more about his work at his website or by following him on Twitter. Here he reveals the origins of Danny Whiskers — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing The tail of Danny Whiskers

Danny Whiskers started as a drawing.

I often entertain myself with a bit of doodling between deadlines. This was a cat in the passenger seat of a car, shaking his paw and shouting obscenities at drivers nearby. I found him amusing, drew some more, and eventually titled the page: “Danny Whiskers”.

My narrative mind began to wonder why Danny could speak. Was he a figment of the driver’s imagination, like Hobbes to Calvin? Or was he the result of some mad experiment, like a furry Frankenstein? The ravings of a monster cat seemed more troublesome for his human companion, so I found myself with some science fiction.

From there, two themes I often grapple with naturally worked their way in.

First, the conflict between science and superstition. This theme has captivated me from an early age. Galileo was a childhood hero of mine. It may have something to do with growing up in a religious environment, where the very act of drawing was, to some devout uncles, a sin against God. I began to wonder: what if Danny’s intelligence was the result of an experiment outlawed by religious belief?

Second, people doing a bit of right in a world of wrong. This theme echoes through most of my imagination. Idealists fascinate me, whether they be sure or full of doubt, right or completely mistaken. It may have something to do with growing up in a war, where I saw the ordinary people around me do extraordinary things. I began to wonder: what if Danny’s companion was a scientist who felt responsible for his sentient creation, even at the risk of his own life?

Add to these a mad dash to the border, and you have The tail of Danny Whiskers: in which an uppity cat escaping the law just can’t keep his mouth shut, ten miles from freedom.



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