X Factor presenter Dermot O’Leary and illustrator Nick East discuss ninja cat escapades in Broadstairs

Dermot O'Leary, illustrator Nick East, host Denise Martin-Harker and audience Photo Encade

X Factor presenter Dermot O’Leary has visited Broadstairs to promote his latest children’s book – and revealed his main characters could take a trip to the coast themselves in future stories.

The star, and illustrator Nick East, delighted an audience at East Kent College yesterday (December 9) with a chat about Toto the Ninja Cat and the Incredible Cheese Heist, the second book in the Toto adventure series, and an impromptu reading and drawing session.

The tales are based on cats Toto and Silver belonging to Dermot and wife Dee Koppang-O’Leary – the daughter of Broadstairs councillor Rosalind Binks.

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In real life Toto is blind but Dermot told the audience her incredible senses had inspired his ninja tales. Other characters include sidekick Silver, 10 Downing Street cat Larry and Mary the seagull who the presenter described as Carry On star Barbara Windsor (with wings).

There is also the Stephen Fry-inspired character of Catface and a suave baddie with henchmen.

During the session Dermot revealed that he takes February and March as time out to write his books after planning them through the year.

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Artwork, including a fantastic Sour Saucer bar illustration and an ‘animal underground’, was created by former designer Nick who travelled to London to purr-fect his drawings of Dermot’s cats.

The event, which was organised by BroadstairsLit and hosted by the town’s Denise Martin-Harker with an introduction from author Jane Wenham-Jones, also featured a book signing and sale of both Toto tales.

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Speaking exclusively to The Isle of Thanet News Dermot said he had been visiting Thanet for the past 16 years.

He added: “Broadstairs is like my second home. And especially with my parents moving back to Ireland it is where my family is, other than my sister in York.

“When I am here I like swimming in the sea every chance I get. I love the fact that everyone is really proud of their area and I think it is beautiful.

“I have two or three other ideas (for Toto books) so they could come to Broadstairs as I have learned to always write what you know about.”

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Dermot also admitted writing could be tough. He said: “You find out who you are quite quickly when you write a book. You find out about your work ethic and learn that some days it just does not happen. When you publish you have to let go of ownership, the closest thing to it I can think of is a rock star releasing a new album.

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“You have to be brave and confident enough to know that not everyone will like it but hopefully it will be well received and you can be proud of it.”

Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape – featuring a King Cobra called Brian – and the new Toto the Ninja Cat and the Incredible Cheese Heist are both available in bookshops and online.

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