August 31, 2009
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes

by Richard Sala

 SalaSelfPort copy2

When I was twelve, our family moved from a bustling
Midwestern city to a relatively small town in the Southwest. It’s never much
fun to move away from friends and neighbors you’ve known your whole life in the
first place — but to make matters worse, we moved in the middle of a school
year. So not only was I the “new kid”, but I was plopped right down in the
middle of classes that had already been in progress for months.

I stood out with my pale complexion in a sea of tanned
faces. And it wasn’t as if I’d merely moved to a nearby town where things were
changed but still recognizable. This was a completely different environment and
culture.

It had been November when we left our old town, but in our
new town it was still summer. Instead of 100-year-old house we’d lived in,
filled with nooks and crannies and all kinds of strange and antique details,
our new house was a year old with no personality whatsoever (yes, places can
have personalities – but they take time to develop, just like people!). But I’m
not saying one place was better than the other. They were just – different.
Instead of Oak trees there were Saguaro cacti. Instead of squirrels, there were
lizards. Instead of suits and ties, the teachers wore short-sleeved shirts,
bolo ties and cowboy boots. Instead of nearby museums cluttered with dinosaur
skeletons and mummies, there were modern galleries with paintings of grizzled,
horse-ridin’ cowpokes or Indian squaws, usually with a little papoose on their
shoulder. Instead of nights filled with the sounds of whooshing buses, snippets
of music and distant train whistles, the nights were filled with – silence.

Ah, the nights. The sky was so big. And with no high
buildings or the bright lights of bustling night time activity to obscure the
view, you could see so many stars – millions and millions – in a sky so huge
you felt as if you might suddenly fall upwards into it… Even before we’d moved,
I loved to read and get lost in my imagination. Now, instead of watching TV
after dinner, I’d go outside, into the quiet, peaceful dark of our street and
go for walks around the neighborhood. You could see lights on in the windows or
the glow of TVs in the dark. Sometimes the warm desert winds would stir the
bushes. Or headlights from a lone car would create giant moving shadows across
the fences that enclosed every house on our block. Occasionally something might
fly by above my head, black against the night sky. Was it a bat? Or some sort
of nocturnal night bird? It was all very mysterious. And that’s what I loved.
That’s when I fell in love with mystery and with imagination.

I’d imagine all kinds of things – usually based on whatever
books or comics I had been reading or movies I’d seen. Maybe those glows were
not TV screens – maybe a mad scientist lived there and was conducting secret
experiments. Or maybe it was an alien, disguised as a human, contacting his
home planet by interplanetary video-phone. And maybe that house at the end of
the street with the one lighted window – perhaps there was a meeting of a
secret society, a masked gang gathered around ancient maps, plotting ghastly
deeds. I’d imagine dark avengers or cat burglars creeping up the sides of the houses,
sprinting across the rooftops…

Then, eventually, I’d realize I had better get home – often
to face the “don’t ever wander off without telling anybody where you’re going!”
lecture. Which is, of course, good advice, but the pull of the night was
irresistible and a much-needed cure for the confusions and humiliations of the
daytime where I was just that pale new kid. Those night walks ended eventually.
I made friends and became less of a loner. I was no longer “new”, but the
memories of having once been “new” never really leave you.

Now, as a writer, looking back, I realize how important
those days were – and especially those nights. I love writing mysteries and
thrillers, ghost stories and horror stories – stories about the night and mad
scientists and aliens and dark avengers and cat burglars and even “new kids.”
In a way, all the stories I’ve ever written, including CAT BURGLAR BLACK – and
all the drawings I’ve ever done – are an attempt to recapture the magical way I
felt, just letting my mind wander and my imagination go nuts as I strolled
along in the dark.

CatBurglarBlack_COVER_300rgb

5 Comments on “ The Story Behind CAT BURGLAR BLACK ”

  • Crystal | May 7th, 2010 4:35 pm

    Did you write a sequel?
    HUGE CAT BURGLAR BLACK FAN!!!!!!!!

  • טויוטה | July 13th, 2011 4:46 am

    I love this type of stories like mysteries and thrillers, ghost stories and horror stories. I read this story. It is really a great story of cat burglar black by richard sala.

  • Mari | December 28th, 2013 11:21 pm

    When I was twelve, our family moved from a bustling Midwestern city to a relatively small town in the Southwest. It’s never much fun to move away from friends and neighbors you’ve known your whole life in the first place — but to make matters worse, we moved in the middle of a school year. So not only was I the “new kid”, but I was plopped right down in the middle of classes that had already been in progress for months. I stood out with my pale complexion in a sea of tanned faces. And it wasn’t as if I’d merely moved to a nearby town where things were changed but still recognizable. This was a completely different environment and culture. It had been November when we left our old town, but in our new town it was still summer. Instead of 100-year-old house we’d lived in, filled with nooks and crannies and all kinds of strange and antique details, our new house was a year old with no personality whatsoever (yes, places can have personalities – but they take time to develop, just like people!). But I’m not saying one place was better than the other. They were just – different. Instead of Oak trees there were Saguaro cacti. Instead of squirrels, there were lizards. Instead of suits and ties, the teachers wore short-sleeved shirts, bolo ties and cowboy boots. Instead of nearby museums cluttered with dinosaur skeletons and mummies, there were modern galleries with paintings of grizzled, horse-ridin’ cowpokes or Indian squaws, usually with a little papoose on their shoulder. Instead of nights filled with the sounds of whooshing buses, snippets of music and distant train whistles, the nights were filled with – silence. Ah, the nights. The sky was so big. And with no high buildings or the bright lights of bustling night time activity to obscure the view, you could see so many stars – millions and millions – in a sky so huge you felt as if you might suddenly fall upwards into it… Even before we’d moved, I loved to read and get lost in my imagination. Now, instead of watching TV after dinner, I’d go outside, into the quiet, peaceful dark of our street and go for walks around the neighborhood. You could see lights on in the windows or the glow of TVs in the dark. Sometimes the warm desert winds would stir the bushes. Or headlights from a lone car would create giant moving shadows across the fences that enclosed every house on our block. Occasionally something might fly by above my head, black against the night sky. Was it a bat? Or some sort of nocturnal night bird? It was all very mysterious. And that’s what I loved. That’s when I fell in love with mystery and with imagination. I’d imagine all kinds of things – usually based on whatever books or comics I had been reading or movies I’d seen. Maybe those glows were not TV screens – maybe a mad scientist lived there and was conducting secret experiments. Or maybe it was an alien, disguised as a human, contacting his home planet by interplanetary video-phone. And maybe that house at the end of the street with the one lighted window – perhaps there was a meeting of a secret society, a masked gang gathered around ancient maps, plotting ghastly deeds. I’d imagine dark avengers or cat burglars creeping up the sides of the houses, sprinting across the rooftops… Then, eventually, I’d realize I had better get home – often to face the “don’t ever wander off without telling anybody where you’re going!” lecture. Which is, of course, good advice, but the pull of the night was irresistible and a much-needed cure for the confusions and humiliations of the daytime where I was just that pale new kid. Those night walks ended eventually. I made friends and became less of a loner. I was no longer “new”, but the memories of having once been “new” never really leave you. Now, as a writer, looking back, I realize how important those days were – and especially those nights. I love writing mysteries and thrillers, ghost stories and horror stories – stories about the night and mad scientists and aliens and dark avengers and cat burglars and even “new kids.” In a way, all the stories I’ve ever written, including CAT BURGLAR BLACK – and all the drawings I’ve ever done – are an attempt to recapture the magical way I felt, just letting my mind wander and my imagination go nuts as I strolled along in the dark – See more at: http://www.firstsecondbooks.com/behind-the-scenes/the-story-behind-cat-burglar-black/#sthash.aVUyL2WK.dpuf

  • Mari | December 28th, 2013 11:30 pm

    So I was reading the book and I really liked it cuz it ha had a lot off action and a lot off little details and the little details make the book more interesting and I love how they made the pictures whit a lot off good details I think the authors message is that people might want your confidence but you need to watch out to who your giving your confidence too cuz people take advantage off ur confidence so I want to keep on reading this book to get more ideas cuz every time yhu get a book and re-read it you get more details and information out it ummmm I really liked this book cuz it has a lot off little details and I loved this book.

  • zara | April 5th, 2015 9:10 am

    Did u write a sequel and if u didn’t are u thinking of writing one?

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