Paver-2234

Ask Michelle

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

Latest Messages

Thin Air

Literacy

An homage

Inspiring a young writer

Ghost Stories for adults

Rainforest

Multiple questions

Future book events?

Happy 20th anniversary!!

Your most well-written villain?

Theme of uncertainty in the Wolf Brother series

Garrett writes...

Why did you intertwine the theme of uncertainty into the Wolf Brother books, where the main characters are always confronting the unknown and the dangers of the forest, without any warning or certainty of events?

I recall the brief dialogue between Fin-kedinn and Torak in the book Oath Breaker, in the beginning of chapter 39, pg.231, on the idea of accepting uncertainty.

The uncertainty of events/nature seems to me to be a core tenant or theme in the series, and is a strong antagonistic force to the hero's cast in their journey, often eclipsing the efforts made by the villains themselves, yet just as easily becoming the villain's downfall.

I think this is what makes the series so good, as a reader I never know what to expect next, or how certain elements will intertwine their meanings into the story's resolution. Even the most powerful characters are yielded to the circumstances which they are powerless to influence, towards nature's unpredictability, and often towards the will of their own people, adding to a already endless struggle of righting the wrongs of the past and fighting against malevolent forces, or just for survival. The character's mistakes are often impossible to fix and become part of the character's growing maturity, which I think is great for character development and the story's moral theme.

That idea has stuck with me, as I reflect onto current world events, and from what I have read of philosophy.
So I must also ask:
- What influenced you to use this theme of uncertainty, and is it deliberate in the design of the plot?
- What helps you to deal with uncertainty, in our current times? What helps you to voluntarily confront uncertainty to then take action?
- What would you recommend for other people to read from literature or history, that would help people accept uncertainty?
- Are there any books which you hold favor that uses the opposite theme in them, instead of having constant uncertainty, the narrative provokes a theme of certainty, which the protagonists attempts to overcome in their own way? (As I would associate in dystopian books, or example)

Personal notes:
Thank you for writing this series, I first read both Wolf brother and Spirit Walker at a very young age, at around 6 to 7 years old. And I actually remember asking the school library (2-3 years later) for the books in the series, but they could not find the ones I had read previously, and I had forgotten the names of the books by then. I was dissapointed for a while, apparently enough to keep it in the back of my mind many years later. I finally re-found the name of the book in my early twenties while doing a internet search trying to pin it down, and have since read the entire series.

I must admit it is somewhat eerie looking back in retrospect to notice how reading those books at such an early age effected my mental attitude towards nature and how I tended to silently reflect on people's sociability in terms of tribal-social affairs. I also remembered the plot point in Spirit Walker where Torak 'spirit walks' into a fish or seal, which was one of the most intriguing aspects of any book I read at that time, which as a kid was the most creative thing I had come across at that point in my life.

I must admit that re-reading Wolf Brother's plot decades later made the hook/sinker effect at the beginning less effective overall, but still the best I have ever read, and the ending to that book felt rushed and less than what it could have been. But re-reading Spirit Walker and the remaining books in the series more than made up for that.

My society is in desperate need of a return to nature, great stories, and heroic figures to look up towards. I appreciate that you helped to fill such a gap in my life, as in many others. And in my case, that goes twice over. Thank you, for helping bring people's attention to a better narrative, and into a different world.

Michelle Replies...

Dear Garrett, I'm so pleased that you've enjoyed the books, both as a child and adult, and thank you for such heartfelt and perceptive comments.  For me, themes tend to arise naturally, without conscious thought, and I don't realise what they are until I'm well into the writing.  I think uncertainty forms such a big part of the Wolf Brother stories because uncertainty is inherent in the natural world, and hunter-gatherers know that.  Indeed, they're probably more aware of it than we are.  This was obvious to me from the start, when, to make Torak's world real, I began to research the ways of life of people who (at least until recently) still lived in traditional ways, such as Indigenous Australians, the Inuit, certain Native American peoples, and the Ainu of Japan.

You also asked what helps me deal with uncertainty, and that's much harder to answer.  I suppose like most people, I try to impose order on what I can around me - such as my house, my work and so on - while trying to accept that most of life is beyond my control.  It's not easy and I often fail and have to try again.  But that's just life.  As for books about this, I've never liked stories with messages, or ones that make things too cut and dried.  When I was a teenager, and subsequently, the novels of Dostoyevsky helped me, because for me they show how mixed peoples' motivations can be, and how essentially unknowable each person is.  They're also terrific stories.  I hope this helps a bit, and thank you for asking a question which I don't think I've ever been asked before.  I'm also delighted that you mentioned the scene when Torak spirit walks in the seal, as that was one of my favourite passages to write.   With very best wishes, Michelle


Touring 2024

Ethan writes...

Hello Michelle,
I've been wondering whether you will do touring - would just love to meet you in person! Me and my friends love reading your Wolf Brother Series, and a meet and greet would make things so much more special!

Warm Wishes,
Ethan

Michelle Replies...

Hello, Ethan. It's great that and your friends are enjoying the Wolf Brother books;but as regards touring, I'm afraid I've no plans for that this year, due to family commitments.  That may change next year, when my next book comes out - and if it does, I'll post full details on my website.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy further visits to the Forest with Torak, Renn and Wolf!  With best wishes, Michelle


Souleater

Anna writes...

Hello, I have been a fan of these books for such a long time. but I cant remember if we see the part where Torak gets the soul eater mark or if I'm being silly and there wasn't one. If there was one please tell me what chapter it is.
I was also wondering you ever thought of writing a book with the healers when they were younger and all friends and we see the how they slowly become evil (or broken)we could see how they were raised, hurt. The trio with Toraks father, Fin-Kedinn and Tenris + love bond between Toraks mother and father and Fin-Kedinn. All of it would just be so heart-breaking/warming. Also the parallels between them and Torak would be so cool!
I love all of your work too!

Michelle Replies...

Dear Anna, thanks so much for your message, and it's great that you like my stories.  First, to clear things up about Torak's Soul-Eater tattoo: we don't see it when it actually happens, which is at the end of Book 3 (SOUL EATER), but we do see it as a mini-flashback in Chapter 2 of Book 4 (OUTCAST), when Torak recalls the experience of being held down and tattooed.  So it's understandable that you couldn't remember either way; indeed, when I got your message, I had to scurry back to the books and check!  As for your second question, you're not the first reader to suggest a prequel dealing with the Healers/Soul-Eaters, and/or the backstory of Torak's parents, Fin-Kedinn and Tenris.  But while you perceptively (and persuasively) highlight how this might all work, I'm afraid that I've never been tempted to write such prequels,  I think mainly because we know how it all ends, and what happens to all the characters.  I hope that's not too disappointing; and thanks again for getting in touch. With very best wishes, Michelle


A 10th Book?

Mira writes...

Dear Ms Paver,

I hope you are well!

I have hugely enjoyed reading the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness - the series was really a joy to read! I love the impact it had on the reader and it hooked me to read on from the very first book to the very last. This is why when I finished the last page of the last book, Wolfbane, I realised with a heavy heart I could not be with these characters for longer. Nothing can beat the grip of the stories!

Therefore I am beg you (at your earliest convenience) to write another book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness! My wild idea would be to add to it by bringing all the Soul-Eaters back to life to come together to destroy Torak and everything he loves? Then, he could defeat them once again with his companion wolf and Renn!

I would be so grateful for your consideration.

Yours truly,
A big fan,
Mira Sibal

Michelle Replies...

Hello, Mira.  I'm delighted that you've enjoyed the nine books in the series, and it really does sound as if you've been living and breathing th stories!  While I sympathise with your very eloquent plea for a tenth book, I'm afraid that I've no plans to write one.   You see, I just feel that I've left the characters in a good place at the end of Wolfbane, and that the shape of the series is complete as it is.  So I'm sorry to disappoint you, but there won't be any more stories to follow about Torak, ~Renn and Wolf.  All I can suggest is that a spot of re-reading might help to fill the gap, and take you back to the Forest.  Thank you for getting in touch - and may the guardian run with you!  With best wishes, Michelle


Les Chroniques des Temps Obscurs Tome 7-8-9 in French.

Stéphanie writes...

Looking for your book Les Chroniques des Temps Obscurs Tome 7-8-9 in French. I found #6 on Amazone. I read Tome 1-2-3-4-5 and would really like to continue the series because I like it :). Can you tell me if they are still available somewhere? I canot seem to find them and my bookstore could only get me up to #5.
Thank you very much 🙂

Michelle Replies...

Dear Stephanie, I'm afraid that Tomes 7, 8 and 9 have not been translated into French, and there aren't any plans to do so in the future.  (That was not my decision, it was decided by the publishers, Hachette.)  So I'm afraid that if you want to read more, you will have to get the books in English.  Sorry about that!  With very best wishes, Michelle


Gods and Warriors audio books?

Felicity writes...

Hi Michelle,

I've LOVED listening to the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series with my daughter on audible. We were rather at a loss when we didn't have Torak and Renn in our lives!

We discovered the first book in the Gods and Warriors series, which again we have really enjoyed listening to. Will an of the other books be published on Audible as an audio book?

Best wishes,

Felicity

Michelle Replies...

Deare Felicity, I'm so glad that you enjoyed listening to Ian McKellen's superb recordings of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness.  I'm afraid, though, that after recording the first in the Gods and Warriors series, Puffin decided not to record any more audiobooks in the series.  That decision is of course up to them, although I do think it's a pity; but there we are.  Still, returning to all things Wolf Brother, it's terrific that Ian was kind enough to record the three sequels to the original six books in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness - so that we have his marvellous performances of all nine books.   With best wishes, Michelle


Wolf Brother to Dark Matter

Aimee writes...

Hello Michelle!
I started reading Wolf Brother when I was 12 (now 27-where has the time gone?!) and at the time read the series up to book 6! I was very excited when I saw an advert for the newest trilogy that came out a couple of years ago, so this year purchased them after re-reading the first 6 books. I was wary of ruining a childhood favourite when I started them again, but low and behold I was blown away, perhaps more than when I was a child and quite surprised at some of the dark twists! My mum read them when I first read them so we could talk about them but I never would have guessed how much I enjoyed them as an adult! I’ve now finished the latest 3 and I’m quite content with the end, but I wish I could dip back into that world again- a reread may be required in the future!
Anyway, I’m most of the way through Dark Matter now and am looking forward to the other adult books. The tension in Dark Matter is getting to me, I can feel Jacks emotions in your writing!
Just want to say thank you for your imagination and research to get your tales so accurate!! Torak, Renn and Wolf will always hold a special place in my heart!! Best wishes, Aimee

Michelle Replies...

Dear Aimee, thank you so much for your heartfelt message.  I was delighted and fascinated to learn of your response both to the first six books, and particularly to the final three!  I'm also glad that you liked the ending.  May you enjoy many happy re-reads in the future.  With very best wishes, Michelle


thank you

Anna writes...

Hi Michelle

I just wanted to thank you for providing such an excellent ‘chronicles of ancient darkness’ series 🙂 your books bring me so much peace- I first read them from when I was about twelve, (my grandmother brought me them from the library each week) then I reread the series during the first couple months of lockdown. Now, at 22, I am rereading them all again, and wolfbane for the first time!

The relationship Torak and Renn have to nature, and the in depth detail of their hunter gatherer lifestyle, has always stuck with me.

Now this summer I will be taking a course in Norway that will teach me live in the lithic era 🙂 ie foraging, making stone tools, tanning skins, and processing wild fish. Thank you for your book that taught me so much about how our ancestors lived and also gave me an ideology of how we can live more integrated within nature.
I feel so lucky to have read this series!

Michelle Replies...

Dear Anna, thank you so much for your wonderful message.  I love the image of the twelve-year old you reading the series as your grandmother brought the books to you from the library.  I do hope you enjoy Wolfbane, and that you find it a fitting end to the series.  Have a marvellous time in Norway; that course sounds amazing!  With very best wishes, Michelle


Hi, you’re awesome!

Molly writes...

I'd like to interview you, because I LOVE your books. The interview is for a schoolproject and I'd appreciate it very much if you'd accept.

If it's not a problem send me a mail as soon as possible. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!

Best regards, Molly <3

Michelle Replies...

Dear Molly, I'm so glad that you like my books.  I'm afraid I can't help with your school project, as I'm up to my ears in work and family stuff.  Also, if I said yes to helping you, that would open the doors for lots of other requests like yours - and I'd never get any writing done!  Wishing you the best of luck with your project - and may the guardian run with you!  Michelle


Address

Sage writes...

Hi my name is Jocelyn, your books are the best I have read in my life. I am 12 and sending this from my aunt’s phone. I wanted to tell you how amazing your series “the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness” my question is how did you pick the names of Renn and Torak because everytime I read their names I thought how they weren’t ordinary and wanted to know how you picked them? Renn is my favorite character. Thank you.

Michelle Replies...

Dear Jocelyn, I'm delighted that you've been enjoying the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness so much!  The short answer is that I made up the names Torak and Renn. I had to, because we don't know any Stone Age names.  But in doing so, I borrowed sounds from various old languages, such as Old Norse (what the Vikings spoke) - and after that it was a question of trial and error, until I had something that felt absolutely right for the character.  As it happened, much later, after I was well into writing the books, I learnt that both names mean something in other languages: Renn means "reindeer" in French, and Torak means "perfect" in Greenlandic; I was told this by an Inuit girl in Greenland.  But that's just chance, and the important thing is that the names fit the characters.  Finally, and in case you didn't know, I should tell that I've also written three more Wolf Brother books, after the six of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness.  I hope you enjoy them too! May the guardian run with you.  Best wishes, Michelle