Nostalgia, esteem and questions

Valentina writes…

Dear Michelle,
I’m writing from Italy, my name is Valentina and I’m 28 years old. Like other young people around the world, I grew up with the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. I was 7/8 years old when I read Wolf Brother for the first time, I fondly remember the moments when, impatient and excited, I would wait for the bookstore clerk to give the new book of the Chronicles to me…strictly always pre-ordered. I would caress the cover and foretaste the return to the Forest, beginning to read it already on the way home. I have always loved reading, but the Chronicles have a very special place in my heart. When I heard that three more sequels were coming out, I immediately got copies in the original language, and I just finished reading Wolfbane: the ending moved me, and left me with an unspeakable nostalgia… it's impossible to let go of stories and characters that are so beloved. In fact, I have reread the first six books almost 15 times up to now….

I think there is no higher and more satisfying goal for a writer than to touch people's hearts with their stories. You have done that, and I would like to express all my esteem and appreciation to you. Now that I have grown up (and become a biologist!) I appreciate even more the care, the deep research and practical experience behind each and every book. The reconstruction of customs and traditions, the flora, the foods, the techniques of manufacturing weapons, shelters and clothing, the hunting techniques…the Forest, and all the places that are the background to the Chronicles, feel like real places because of the care and mastery with which they were written. The people who populate it, like those in the real world, are good, not so good, people who grow and improve, or people who are firm in cultivating their dark side with no possibility of redemption. Dealing with such diverse cultures, with themes that even touch on misogyny or religious extremism, and with brotherhood among the nations always being the winner, makes these books 9 little treasures in which the reader grows along with the protagonists. That's another reason I love your books so much: I've seen Renn, Dark, Wolf and Torak become themselves. Renn is my favorite, an example for all young girls, for me the character who has grown the most and found inner peace by embracing herself and accepting her gifts. That’s so wonderful.

Books have always been my best friends. If I could get into one, I would certainly choose the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness saga. I know that for you 9 books are enough and that you are satisfied with the ending, but I hope that sooner or later there will be space for more stories. I would like to see what Torak's life would be like without Wolf, who won't be a young wolf anymore in a few years, to see Torak and Renn grow up further. I am grateful to you for not making them parents, and I agree with the motivations behind this choice…I can imagine them, at most, as foster parents. There is always an ambivalence in Torak between belonging to the human world and loving Renn and belonging to Wolf and his world. Which would he choose if he were forced to make a choice? If he had not met Torak, would Renn still have ended up walking away from life with the Ravens in favor of a more solitary one? I would love it if you wrote about this. I always hope for a comeback, as do so many other fans. Never say never!

With all my esteem and affection,


Michelle Replies…

Dear Valentina, What a marvellously uplifting message to receive when I sat down to check my messages after a rather long and wearisome day!  I’m absolutely delighted that my books have meant so much to y0u (I love the idea of you as a child, stroking the cover of each story when it came out), and I’m glad that Wolfbane proved a fitting end.  I agree with you that there’s nothing more satisying for a writer than to touch people’s hearts with their writing – although in my case, it’s not something I ever set out to to.  I simply write because I have to.  Having said that, though, it’s marvellous to know that my stories have affected readers so deeply.  As for future stories, you know the characters so well that you’ve raised some really thoughtful and tempting questions about what might happen next.  For now, though, I shall have to leave them to readers to follow up.  Again, thank you so much for your perceptive and deeply considered comments – and I hope you continue to enjoy being in the Forest.  With very best wishes – and all possible good fortune in your career as a biologist – Michelle