Primary school class loving your novel.

Dale writes…

Good afternoon,
My name is Dale Innes and I am a primary school teacher. We are currently studying wolf brother as our class novel and the children are loving it. The opportunity Arouse to purchase new books for our schools reading scheme and wolf brother was top of my list. I have taught literacy through your novels in previous schools and I love how this novel grips the children’s imagination and interest in reading.

I was wondering if you would be able to answer some of the children’s questions? We are completing an author study on you and the children love having the opportunity to ask you questions. =)

1. How did you come up with the ideas for characters in wolf brother?
2. What inspired you to write wolf brother? Do you have a favourite chapter?
3. What is your favourite book of both your own writing and of other authors books?
4. What inspired you to get into writing novels?
5. How did you feel when your published book becomes popular?
6. How long does writing a book take?
7. Did you enjoy writing as a child?
8. Do you plan on continuing to add to the wolf brother sequel of novels?
9. Do you have anything on your desk whilst writing to inspire you?
10. Does writing books require a lot of motivation to keep going if you get writers block?

Thank you for your time and for writing such interesting novels.

King regards,
Dale Innes and Primary 5/6 I

Michelle Replies…

Dear Dale,

Many thanks for your message, and I’m so glad that the children are enjoying my stories.  They’ve asked lots of questions, and as I’ve already answered some of them for other readers or on my website, I won’t repeat myself, but here goes:

Qu 2 – What inspired me to write Wolf Brother? – Please see, go to the Cave, then click on “Why I wrote Wolf Brother”, for the full story.

Qu 8 – Will there be more in the series after Wolf Bane? The short answer is “no”.  For a fuller answer, please see my recent answers on this website to Josiah and also Lilya.

Qus 2 & 3 – I don’t really have favourite chapters, or books that I’ve written, or read. (Or if I do, they keep changing!)

Qu6 – How long does writing a book take?  It depends on how long the book is, but not as much as you might think.  For instance, Wolf Brother is a shortish book, but it took just as long to write as some of my adult stories which were twice as long.  I’m quite a slow writer, and the books I write always seem to need lots of research – both in libraries and in the wild.  I also like to plan my stories very carefully, although these plans are only a guide, and I always change them a lot as I’m writing the story.  Lastly, I re-write a lot, cutting out the boring bits, making the story clearer, that sort of thing.  This is crucial.  For Wolf Brother I went through about 30-40 drafts.  So to answer your question, most of my books take about a year to write; and sometimes as much as 18 months.

Qu 1 -Some of the characters share traits with myself (Renn is rather critical, as am I, and Torak is a loner, as I am) – or with people I know.  However mostly they are themselves, as they walk into my imagination.  And they often surprise me while I’m writing, by doing something (in my imagination, I mean), which I didn’t expect.  But that’s good, it means they’re coming alive.

Qu 7 – Yes, I always loved writing as a child, and I wrote my first story when I was five.  It was called “Ebany the Mouse Goddess” (my spelling wasn’t great), and it was about a mouse goddess who rescued her people from a glacier which was threatening to squash their village.  At school I went on writing, and I loved it. I think this was because when you write, you can make anything happen.  You’re in control.  And I enjoyed using my imagination.

Qu 9 – I don’t really get inspiration from the things on my desk, but I do have a few small objects that I like to look at and pick up when I ‘m thinking. One I particularly like is a small swimming seal about the size of my thumb.  It’s beautifully carved from reindeer antler and very realistic, with its front flippers pressed against its flanks, as seals do when they swim.  It was carved by a Chukchi artist and I bought it from him on a windy beach in Chukotka, eastern Siberia, when I was there on a research trip for Viper’s Daughter, the seventh book in the Wolf Brother series. I love it.

Well that’s all I’ve got time for, but I hope the children enjoy these answers – and continue to enjoy my books. Thanks for getting in touch.

Best wishes, Michelle