WRITING WOLF KINGDOM
I grew up in England not far from a place called Wolves’ Wood. It was only a tiny wood left over from what had once been a great forest, but it was still dark and mysterious—the sort of place where I could truly imagine there might be wolves. It gave me a shiver ever time I rode past in the bus.
I had dreams about wolves as far back as I can remember any kind of dreams. My dream-wolves didn’t look much like real wolves, since I’d never seen a real wolf—in fact, they looked almost exactly like Laura Peterson’s pictures in the WOLF KINGDOM books. I don’t know where Laura got her ideas of wolves, but, for me, it’s as if she reached straight into my head and plucked them out.
So wolves were lurking in my imagination ever since I was five or six years old, and I always wanted to write a story about them. WALTER WANTS TO BE A WEREWOLF introduces werewolves that transform into big-coated bushy-tailed wolves, but they’re not really the wolves of my imagination. When I was given the chance of writing four short linked novels for the ‘Fantastica’ series, I knew this was my opportunity at last!
What I never guessed was the way the wolves would turn out in the writing. At the start of Book 1, ESCAPE!, they’re menacing, brutal and powerful, like the wolves in my dreams.
After all, they rule the world, and they can talk and act like human beings, like human soldiers. But the real human beings can still outwit them; although they’re powerful, they’re not so smart.
It was only in writing the later novels that I realised, perhaps the wolves didn’t actually want to be soldiers. They’d been tempted by the thought of power and domination—but were they really happy about the reality of it? That was when I started to understand the wolves of my dreams, and they weren’t so menacing any more. It was as though the novels were doing something I’d never been to do in my dreams, as though they were telling me a history of the wolves I’d never heard before.
But I’ll have to shut up before I give away what happens at the end of Book 4! Here’s an illustration from the climax of THE HEAVY CROWN.
The truth is, no other books I’ve ever written came so easily or developed so naturally as the WOLF KINGDOM books. Not only the wolves, but the magical objects, which sort of developed their own personalities and grew by themselves. And Chiz … when he popped up in Book 2 and made me laugh, I just had to let him stay through all the other books.
My only regret is that I could tell more of the adventures of Tam and Nina when they were with the Free Folk, in the eight or nine months between Book 1 and Book 4. Still, four books it was, and four books it has to be. But those unwritten adventures keep nudge-nudging at the back of my mind. If I get any of them written, I’ll post them up right here on this website!