Max, Rastus' story finally gets told

Dick Whittington had his cat; there was Puss-in-Boots; Dr Evil and Mr Bigglesworth; Schrodinger had a cat, perhaps; Pavlov didn't; there's Garfield of course; and no surprises, Cats is simply chock full o' felines.

But never was there a cat like the one that "owned" Max Corkill.

The story of Max and his feline motorcycling companion Rastus has finally been told. In her first published book, Palmerston North's Elizabeth Krammer has captured the true adventure of a remarkable puss-and-person partnership, turning it into a delightful story for anyone over 7.

Max and Rastus were stars, supporting numerous community and charitable events with their unique triple-m (man, moggy and motorcycle) act. While the exploits of a bloke, his cat and "their" motorbikes make a fascinating read, the story behind the story should inspire struggling authors everywhere.

Max and his Marvellous Motorcycling Moggy has been waiting to see the light of day for nearly 15 years, and is a testament to persistence and determination.

Sadly, the book began with a tragedy. In 1998, Max, Rastus and Gaynor Martin were killed when the motorcycle they were riding was hit by a car travelling on the wrong side of the road north of New Plymouth.

Elizabeth, herself a committed animal-lover, heard about the crash, but was enthralled to learn that Rastus rode with Max everywhere.

"I thought, ‘how extraordinary - a motorcycle-riding cat'. But there was also that Max was such a kind, compassionate man towards people and towards animals, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought I'd like to write a children's book about him and Rastus. But I didn't really know how to get started."

So, beginning with a title Max's Marvellous Motorcycling Moggy, Elizabeth contacted Max's sister, Beryl Sutton, who provided essential information along with the photos that now illustrate the book.

It took a year or so to write. A chance campus meeting with Massey's Professor Richard Corbalis saw the academic offer to edit the original script.

The next step was to find a publisher, and in 2004, a New Zealand company finally expressed interest, advising her to change the title to Max and his Marvellous Motorcycling Moggy as well as focus more on the remarkable bond between Max and Rastus.

"They did a lot of work on it, but then decided not to go ahead."

Elizabeth continued to approach other publishers.

Then, in 2008, came an offer from a firm in the United States. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a scam.

Still, she kept submitting her manuscript. By this time, she had revised the story and added a further episode.

"I offered it to each New Zealand publisher up to three times, and it was after the second approach to Stephen Picard at RSVP, that he said OK."

That was in February. When a contract arrived in June, Elizabeth tried to contain her excitement; after all, this had happened before. But the proofs arrived in early August, and now she holds the published result.

"I never thought it would be published - it's been nearly 15 years."

Max and his Marvellous Motorcycling Moggy by Elizabeth Krammer is available online at rsvp-publishing.co.nz and in bookstores for $19.95 with $1 from each book sold going to the SPCA.

Manawatu Standard