Ask Michelle

Here are Michelle’s most recent answers to the questions and messages readers have submitted.

Latest Messages

Thank you for these wonderful books!

Dutch translation

An invaluable gift

A Love that started long ago


School Visits

Thank you very much for your work!


Trans and non binary people

Thank you

Good Quality Research

Alessia Wilimowski writes...

Hello Michelle Paver, I would like to ask how do you do sufficient research? I know you go to different parts of the world, but how do you do it when you can’t travel? Well, I guess what I am asking is how did you do research when you first started?
Thank you, your books are inspirational.

P.s I saw you at the Y.A.L.C books signing. I still have the signed book. You are amazing.

Michelle Replies...

Dear Alessia,

I'm so glad you enjoyed YALC.  As for how much research is enough, that's kind of a "how long is a piece of string?" question, but I'll do my best to answer.

If I'm new to a subject, I'll start at a broad-brush level: maybe (because I'm old-fashioned) looking it up in an encyclopaedia, and/or a few reference books at the local library.  Just to get a sense of things, and of what I might use in the story I'm thinking about writing.  If it's a region that I need to explore, I'll refer to the relevant Lonely Planet guide for idea on places to travel to.  And you might of course use the internet -  but again, at this stage, head for an authoritative source. ( The internet is also great for quickly answering a specific question, such as how does a particular birdcall sound, or something. )

If the subject isn't central to what I'm writing about, a general reference might be enough.  But often it's only the start, because a general account can't give me the interesting little details that might make a story come alive - or, crucially,  which spark ideas for the story.  For that I often resort to secondhand books (a great source is, provided you know what you're looking for). For instance, when I was writing my Gothic novel WAKENHYRST, set in the Suffolk fens, I found a 1930s poacher's memoir in a secondhand bookshop; it described "eel-babbing", a way of catching eels.  I'd never heard of that, but it sparked all sorts of ideas for the story and ended up featuring in a key scene.  That's what I love about research.  You never know what you'll find, or where it will take you.

Of course if funds are limited, you don't need to buy the books.  I've used my local library for years.  And the British Library is brilliant for "deep fishing" into a subject.  Once you have a reader's ticket, you can call up all sorts of weird and wonderful things from the stacks.  In my time I've called up court-martial transcripts, 1930s Army & Navy catalogues (for DARK MATTER), obscure booklets on folklore (for WAKENHYRST) and any number of anthropological publications for the WOLF BROTHER books.

Also, a word about location research.  You don't have to travel to the jungle to experience,for example, tropical plants; a visit to the glasshouse at Kew Gardens will bring you face to face with quite a few, and although the experience wouldn't be the same, you'll probably get something out of it that you wouldn't get by looking at a book or website on the subject.  I've had lots of ideas which I've ended up using in the WOLF BROTHER books from observing urban wildlife in Wimbledon, where I live.  It only takes imagination to transport a squirrel up a tree in a Sainsbury's car park, to Torak's world.

Finally, it's worth saying that I never really know how much research is sufficient research.  Often while I'm writing, something will crop up which, despite all my months of research, I haven't covered.  And very often, I'll end up with pages and pages of notes on something that never finds its way into the story.  That's just the way it goes.  But reading into a subject is, I think, part of what gives one assurance in the writing.  So it isn't really wasted.

I'm sorry I can't be more precise, but as you can see, this isn't a very precise topic!  However I do hope that you'll find the above pointers helpful - and the best of luck with your writing.

Regards, Michelle

wolf brother

Anna writes...

Hi, I love wolf brother with all my heart and can not stop rereading - wolf brother, spirit walker and outcast! I NEED to know if you are thinking of turning my fav book series into films?

From anna
P.S. I love this book series more that my friends

Michelle Replies...

Dear Anna,

I'm so glad that you like the Wolf Brother books - and I'm delighted that you re-read them.  (I've always loved re-reading books, as I'm constantly finding new things in them on each re-reading.)

As to whether they'll be turned into films, I'm afraid that at the moment, there are no plans for this.   Over the years, I have done several film deals for the books, and most recently, a deal for turning all the books into a tv series.  Each time things have looked promising; and until recently, they looked very promising indeed for the tv series.  But I'm afraid that each time, things have eventually petered out - and I'm sorry to say that it's the same with the tv series.

I think this is mainly because the books would be extremely expensive to make, given that Wolf would need to be computer-generated (real wolves do NOT make good actors!), and the whole thing takes place outside, which also makes it very costly.  With the tv series, another reason we were given is that there's a perception among people who make tv series, that people want stories with adult main characters, rather than children. And of course Torak and Renn are twelve when Wolf Brother starts.  So there we go.  It's a pity, but it doesn't mean that they won't be made at some stage in the future.  Just not for now.

I hope that hasn't dashed your hopes too much - and that you continue to enjoy the adventures of Torak, Renn and Wolf!

Best wishes, Michelle

Thank you for a beautiful series.

Ziyaad writes...

Dear Michelle Paver,

My name is Ziyaad and I started reading Wolf Brother when I was around 12 years old (incidentally the same age as Torak). I recalled it fondly and always held it in high esteem amongst other childhood stories that I loved.

Around 2020, the pandemic had begun. It was an incredibly difficult time for everyone. I started my second year of university in September. On account of living close by, I decided to take the train for the few classes that remained in person. And each time I walked past a massive poster of Viper’s daughter. A part of me wondered what had become of my old friends Torak and Renn in the last 8/9 years. However, I put it to the back of my head as we went into December lockdown.

This year I finished my third year of medicine. I decided to take a year out to pursue global health before continuing with the last two years of my degree. It still leaves me feeling abit lost, thinking there’s a need to start in a new city with new people. Yet, ultimately this decision was for me to have some more time to myself. I started reflecting on how our modern day stories don’t have happy endings and my mind thought back to that poster I walked past on my train journeys. I purchased all 3 books. And wow.

I slipped back effortlessly into a world my heart had never left. The noise in my mind was softened by the quiet snowfalls. My feeling of being alone was lessened when I saw the fierce bonds of loyalty Torak, Renn and Wolf share. All of these universal themes of loyalty and love were infused in characters that had grown up with me. I felt incredibly emotional to see how events unravelled. For example, the arc of Torak losing then finding himself again. His intention was to protect those he loved but he needed Renn to ground him.

It’s not often one gets to grow up with a character, but it has been an absolute pleasure. These books returned to me at a difficult time when I needed to be reminded of what was the right way of looking at things.

So all I can humbly offer is a thank you. Perhaps you will read this and perhaps not. However, my message comes from the heart. These characters never left and returned to guide myself (and many others) through the difficulties of the pandemic and the trials of entering adulthood. If Torak, Renn and Wolf can withstand Naiginn, I can withstand life’s challenges.

I don’t know if you’ll ever return to these stories. I do hope so (perhaps vainly to see Torak and Renn have a family and grow up more). However, I’m glad you returned when the world was in a dire need of being reminded what good overcoming evil looked like.

Thank you very much for your writing. I remain a humble fan.

Yours faithfully,
Ziyaad Surtee

Michelle Replies...

Dear Ziyaad,

What a marvellous, evocative message .  Thank you for taking the trouble  to decribe what you have gone through over the past few years.  I can understand your need to take a year out from medical school before continuing with your degree.  It's a courageous thing to do; but time to reflect is invaluable, and I don't think you'll regret it.

I can't tell you how glad I am that my books have helped you at a difficult time in your life.  Someone once said that "We read to feel that we're not alone".  I think that's true for many of us.  I'm delighted that you found it steadying to return to your old friends Torak, Renn and Wolf.  You put it so beautifully, when you said that the noise in your mind was "softened by the quiet snowfalls".  That will stay with me.  Indeed,  I had to smile when you wrote: "Perhaps you will read this and perhaps not".  Ziyaad, I've read it, printed it, and will keep it.  (We writers also have our dark times, and messages like yours are a great help!)

Again, thank you so much for getting in touch.  I'd like to wish you all possible good luck with your medical studies - and with whatever else you choose to do with your life.

Best wishes, Michelle







Melodie writes...

My dyslexic sons want to know whether (and when!) books 2 and 3 of the Wolf Brother series will come to audible! We don’t have a CD player.
Missoula, Montana

Michelle Replies...

Dear Melodie, it's great that you and your sons want to listen to Ian McKellen's fabulous readings of the Wolf Brother books .  I'm afraid I'm not the best person to ask about availability issues, as I have no control over these things.  I know that all the books are available on Audible in the UK, but I'm afraid I can't speak for the US.  If you are having any difficulty, I can only suggest that you contact Audible itself, and/or the US publishers of the books, HarperCollins Children's Books.  Wishing you the best of luck!

Regards,  Michelle

wolf brother

Sandra writes...

I am thinking of using Wolf Brother with my years 5 and 6, all are good readers, as part of out Stone Age, is the activity pack still available ?

Kind regards

Michelle Replies...

Dear Sandra, it's great to hear that you are thinking of using WOLF BROTHER for your class.  When I last looked at my websites ( and the activity packs were still available.  I'm assuming it's the online ones you mean.  I'm afraid I don't know more than this, as it was my publishers who organised this, so if you have any difficulties in getting access to the activity pack, your best bet is to contact them.

I hope this helps - and that you and the children enjoy WOLF BROTHER!

With best wishes, Michelle

Happy Birthday Michelle! from 3SB and 3ST of All Saints Primary CofE Peterborough

Miss writes...

Dear Michelle,

The children of year three, at All Saints primary school, are reading your amazing book, Wolf Brother this half term. When researching about the book, they were quick to discover your birthday (according to the internet) is the 7th of September! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! We are really enjoying Wolf Brother so far, its brilliant. We hope you have a wonderful day.


3SB and 3TS at All Saints, Peterborough

Michelle Replies...

Dear Miss Bentley and everyone in Year Three: you are correct, yesterday was my birthday, and thank you very much for your lovely message!  I do hope that you continue to enjoy WOLF BROTHER - and maybe some of the other books featuring Torak, Renn and Wolf after that.

With very best wishes, Michelle Paver

Spelling error and misprints.

D. writes...

I am a huge fan of your work, and am currently on book four of your Wolf Brother series. I believe I have found an error within 'Outcast', and the book that I have purchased also contains a misprint, although this isn't a fault of yours. It makes my book unique, as is your phenomenal style of writing.

The error is on page 68, where Torak steals Fin Kedinn's axe; "His grip tightened. To steal a man's axe is one of the worst things you can do. To steal Fin Kedinnn's..."

In case it matters, here is the ISBN of my book: 978 1 510 10864 6
and the edition number: 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

I was also wondering if there was a way
that I could get the wolf drawing from the cover of Wolf Bane, as I'm interested in getting a tattoo of such. Thank you.

Michelle Replies...

Dear D. McCarthy, I'm so glad to hear that you like my books!  I've checked the text  in OUTCAST you quoted, and I can confirm that there isn't a typo, this is what I intended to write.  Perhaps you were disconcerted by the fact that the sentence trails off?  If so, I can assure you that this was intentional.  To explain: we're in Torak's mind at this point.  He's reflecting that stealing an axe is a dreadful thing to do.  But to steal Fin-Kedinn's... The sentence trailing off like that is intended to imply that stealing from Fin-Kedinn is utterly beyond what one should do!

Anyway, I'm sorry if you were puzzled, and I hope this clears things up.

As regards using the gorgeous wolf motif as a tattoo: while I'm not the owner of the copyright and so can't give  or withhold approval, I can tell you that I've met many fans at signings, and they've proudly shown me their wolf tattoos; none of them has had a problem or been prosecuted. So you can draw your own conclusions from that!  Thanks for getting in touch, and I hope you continue to enjoy my books.

Best wishes, Michelle


Lincoln writes...

I have to email an author I like for a school project and I decided to choose you! I really liked a few of your books and am still currently reading them. You are very good at explaining what is happening and that is one of my favorite thing in books.

PS. Also props to your illustrator/illustrators!

Michelle Replies...

Dear Lincoln,

I'm delighted that you like my books, and that you find you can understand what is happening in them.  That's actually quite hard to do when one is writing a book, so I'm glad that I've succeeded.

Best wishes, Michelle Paver

Book Research

Katie writes...

Dear Michelle

I am writing to say I am doing a report on you and your books for my Nat 4 English and I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about your research for Chronicles of Ancient Darkness and about the different foods you tried when you were travelling? And how much it helped you write the series by having the experiences first hand.

My mum and I really enjoyed listening to Chronicles of Ancient Darkness in the car and I am currently doing a second listening through.

Thank you very much for your time


Michelle Replies...

Dear Katie,

Thanks for getting in touch, and I'm glad you've been enjoying Ian McKellen's magnificent reading of the books!  While I think it's enterprising of you to contact me for help with your homework, I have an idea that your teacher would prefer that you look up stuff yourself. You see, learning how to ferret out information is an important skill in itself; and I get the feeling that this may be partly why your teacher has given you this task to do.  (I know this as my sister is an English teacher with 30 years' experience.)

Having said that, here are a few pointers for you (and for anyone else doing homework on my books; please don't all write in!):

  • You'll find quite a lot about my research in the AUTHOR'S NOTE at the end of each book.
  • You will also find lots more on my websites, particularly I suggest you have a dig around in the Cave, and see what you can find.
  • Also you might want to take a look at my Youtube channel, as I've done lots of live streams, and often talked of my research.
  • As far as food goes, I'm pretty sure it's mentioned in the above; but just so you know, I particularly loved lingonberries, which I scooped up from the forest floor in Finland when I was doing my research for WOLF BROTHER.  This is why they are Wolf's favourite berries.
  • As regards WHY I do the research, it's to make the stories real.  It's as simple as that. I want you to feel that you are living the adventure with Torak, Renn and Wolf - and the best way to do that is to experience what they do.  (Within reason, that is!)
  • I hope that helps you somewhat - and good luck with your homework!  With best wishes, Michelle


Cara writes...

Hi Michelle,
I've been hearing all kinds of wonderful things about your work, but I have yet to read any of your books myself because they aren't available on Kindle. I'm disabled and cannot hold a physical book open for very long, so I have to do all my reading digitally. Is there any chance that your books will be available on Kindle anytime soon?

Thanks for your time,

Michelle Replies...

Dear Cara,

Many thanks for getting in touch.  I'm glad that you've heard good things about my books, and I can quite understand that you prefer reading digitally.  But I'm a bit puzzled that you haven't been able to get hold of them, as they are available on Kindle, and also as audiobooks on Audible (should you feel like listening instead).  I've just done a quick check on to make sure that I'm not misleading you, and the books were all there, present and correct, in Kindle and Audible. (Of course it may be that you're not in the UK, in which case I'm afraid I can be of less help, and I can only refer you to the list of my oversees publishers on my website; the best thing would be to contact the relevant publisher.)  However I do hope that you are soon able to access whichever of my books you like - and once again, thank you for getting in touch.

With best wishes, Michelle