The City That Barks and Roars
by J.T. Bird
Genre: Mystery Fiction
Animals rule the world
They hit cafes for breakfast then nine to five at the office, and fritter away evenings at jazz clubs.
But paradise is still a distant dream, for there are devils amongst the angels.
Lucas Panda is missing; clues on the riverbank suggest he was probably kidnapped. Enter Frank. Who else you gonna call? Hard-boiled penguin and the finest detective in town. And meet his new partner, Detective Chico Monkey – yeah, the wisecrackin’ kid with all the snappy suits. But the stakes have been raised; three more creatures are missing and the citizens of Noah’s Kingdom are faced with possible extinction. Can the grouchy bird and plucky young ape save the city from doom? Or, will evil prevail and escape the claws of justice?
‘Animal noir’ peppered with plenty of humour; this thrilling debut novel from award-winning comedian JT Bird is an intriguing blend of Jungle Book and Chinatown (Zootopia for grown-ups?! Watership Down with Fedoras!?) – perfect for fans of animal fiction, or mysteries, adventure and crime. A gripping yarn, packed with weird and wonderful creatures, for youngsters and adults alike (or anyone who’s crying out for anthropomorphic detectives!!)

The Stories Behind My Story


What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote a story when I was eight years old about a penguin detective – including illustrations with various blunt crayons. Nearly thirty years later, when it came to writing a novel, I felt obliged to visit the penguin once more – and unleash him upon the world.


What can we expect from you in the future?

I dabbled with the idea of another ‘animal’ story – but actually for my next novel, I’m telling the tale of a twelve year old school-girl who is whisked into a mysterious guild  – and helping to protect the country from peculiar threats. It’s a bit like a young spy novel, but there’s going to be a fantasy element as well, and possibly a flying unicorn…


Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

Eliana Panther gets her name from my daughter. Whether my daughter will be happy that I named a feisty panther after her – is yet to be seen!!

I also tried to picture famous actors providing the voices for various characters. That helped me to write their dialogue – because I could imagine these stars, and how they would talk and sound. So for Frank Penguin I pictured Al Pacino, Chico was Ryan Reynolds, and Chief Vulture was of course Helen Mirren!! For Salvatore Bulldog I pictured an actor called Armand Assante who was in Judge Dredd – a ‘dredd-ful’ movie, but I love the tone of his voice!!


How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

I won’t give away any spoilers – but it did take a few years before I was happy enough with the plot to sit down and write the darn thing. I refused to write a novel until I felt like I had an interesting story, with a satisfying conclusion – and ample amount of twists. I knew it was going to involve a detective penguin – but initially I wasn’t sure of an era or setting. Eventually I settled on the idea that there was mutiny aboard Noah’s Ark – and this led to a world ruled by animals, to put it simply. I loved this idea and that sparked the rest of the story. And being a huge fan of film noir I decided to set the story in 1952 – so my penguin  could wear a fedora, and I could have some fun with animals placed into the genre!!


Where did you come up with the names in the story?

One of my favorite things about writing a novel, is coming up with character names or place names!! I spent a week mulling over the name for a jazz band in the book – even though they are only mentioned once!! Miles Skunk and The Zebras I think was the final decision before you ask!! One of my main characters is Frank Penguin, and I think being a kinda noir story the name just fit, even though it’s a bit cliché. His partner, Chico Monkey, was named after a character in The Magnificent Seven!! Ruben Rat and Mason Gator were named after players for Chelsea Football/Soccer Team!!



What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I loved building the world – and having that freedom as a writer to create everything. That’s one of the joys of being a writer: You Are God. This was such a fun world to write about as well, and I’m sure I’ll visit there again one day as there’s scope for plenty more stories. It was enjoyable tweaking the world to cater for a society of animals and trying to work out how it would differ. I probably could have gone much deeper into ‘world building’ and looked more closely at how all these animals lived etc – but there just wasn’t enough space. Maybe if I write a sequel I will explore the world in a bit more detail.

J T Bird is an award-winning stand-up comedian from North London, where he lives with his wife and child. His humble abode sits neatly between the former homes of HG Wells and Robert Louis Stevenson…so there’s no pressure to write something utterly successful and wonderful.
Bird was actually ‘The Chosen One’ that prophets foresaw would rescue the world from all the powers of darkness – however, he opted for a career as a clown and author instead…
Another little known fact – his father was sent from the future to protect him from an android assassin, and his mother’s possessed by a demon – but hey, we all have family issues right?!
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