Thank you

Felix writes…

Dear Ms Paver,
My name is Felix and I'm writing from Sweden. I don't really have a question, I just want to say thank you for your fantastic Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. I've just finished the amazing Audiobook of the last book, Wolfbane, in English, and got the idea to write a little note of appreciation after hearing the nice discussion between you and Sir Ian McKellen at the end. What incredible luck to have such an amazing actor read the entire series and to be present while he did so. I still count it one of the highlights of my life so far when I went to see his one man act in London in 2019 and got to shake his hand as he did a lap around the audience in the intermission.

But back to the books themselves, I remember getting the first book for my birthday when I turned 8, and I was immediately hooked. I actually got the first two books that same birthday, from two different people, though I never did find out if they'd coordinated to get me one each, or if it was by lucky coincidence. I've always loved reading and have read a lot, but even so I finished Wold Brother unusually quick. I went straight to Spirit Walker, which in Sweden has a title that would translate to "Prisoners of the sea". Not to say that Spirit Walker isn't an amazing title, but Prisoners of the sea sounded so awesome to an 8 year old, especially as another popular children's series at the time also had a book with "prisoner" in the title. I can still remember miss-reading "soul eater" as "seal eater" (the Swedish word for soul (själ) only being one letter off from the Swedish word for seal (säl). Took me a while to understand why it was such a big deal that the bad guy was eating seals, since the sea clans seamed to do the same as long as it wasn't their clan animal.

By the time Outcast was published in Swedish I was all caught up, and so were some of my closest friends. We were 10 and for the first time I had friends who read as much as I did because they were so hooked on the adventures of Torak and Renn. We had an unofficial competition of who could finish Outcast first and I had one friend who skived off school to get a head start. I did go to school that day, but still finished first by being a stronger reader.

By the time Ghost Hunter came out I was 12, and my English was getting good enough to start trying some proper books, not just easy reader or learning material, and I just couldn't wait to read the end of the adventure, so I saved up my allowance for a whole month to buy the book in English. I had previously read excerpts of the Narnia books in English and had struggled my way through the first chapter of Lord of the Rings in English, but Ghost Hunter was the first book I actually finished all the way in English. I loved it, even if I didn't understand it 100%, and re-read it when it was released in Swedish a while later.

What I always loved about The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, apart from it being an excellent adventure story, was how much I related. Of course your version of fictional Scandinavia 6000 years ago looks a lot different than 21st century Stockholm, but I still felt like this story could have taken place out in the woods where we went on weekend hikes. When my mom brought me to Scout Jamborees I felt like I could have been in the Ravens' camp and when I took up archery at age 10 and started going to competitions out in the woods I felt like I were an hunter tracking alongside Torak. Even before reading Wolf Brother, my favorite mammals were wolves (my favorite over-all animal being Ospreys), which was of course also a big plus for my enjoyment of the series. I am very sad that two Swedish Zoos in my area has now gotten rid of their wolves, Kolmården after an accident with fatal outcome for a carer 10 or os years ago, and Skansen, who euthanized all their wolves 2 years ago. Whenever visiting I could stand for hours just watching the wolves, even though I'm more of a cat person than a dog person as far as pets are concerned.

When Viper's Daughter was released I was a bit worried that almost 10 years later I would have grown too old to enjoy this primarily children/youth's series, but I did find it very easy to get back into the series, finishing the book in a couple of days and following it up with a re-listen of all the audiobooks. I have enjoyed Skin Taker and Wolfbane as well, not without something bittersweet in my chest when I closed Wolfbane on the last page when I first read it upon release, but I have since made it through the books again in audiobook form both in Swedish and English. Ian McKellen is as I've already said amazing, but our Swedish Narrator Tomas Bolme, as well as our incredible Swedish covers by Alvaro Tapia, will always have a special nostalgic place in my heart.

Sorry for a long message, and not really any questions, just almost 20 years of appreciation and fond memories of this series that I've finally put to words. It has been an amazing journey, and truly inspiring to get out more in nature for my self and learn more about early life in my home area. If I were to close on a question though, it would be if you would ever do an appearance or signing somewhere in Sweden/Scandinavia, or even in any major city in England/Great Britain. I understand that that's a hard question to answer, I guess your agent/publisher mostly handles questions like that and that it's based on if some book store or venue are interested in inviting you, but just in general, do you think there is such a possibility?

Wishing you all the best

Michelle Replies…

Dear Felix, I must thank you for such a marvellous, heartfelt message, which I have just read after returning from a walk in the woods. I loved reading your account of how you experienced each of the books (that Soul Eater/Seal Eater mistake made me laugh out loud!) – and I’m delighted that you enjoyed the last three books too, even though you are now an adult.  I too felt some misgivings when I sat down to write Viper’s Daughter, but that swiftly went away as I found myself back in Torak’s world.

I’m also glad that you’ve enjoyed Ian McKellen’s readings; and you’re right, I am indeed lucky that he has somehow made the time to read each book, despite his incredibly busy schedule.  I remember that as I finished each book, and heard about what Ian was doing – such as filming The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit films, or playing King Lear and Hamlet – I would worry that he wouldn’t be able to fit in my book.  But somehow he always made the time.  But I would add that I can also understand your allegiance to Tomas Bolme’s readings.  Years ago when I was in Stockholm to promote one of the books, my wonderful Swedish publishers arranged for him to give a reading of an excerpt from one of them, and I was lucky enough to be there. Even though I don’t speak Swedish, he sounded terrific.

As for my doing public events and/or signings in Sweden or the UK, I’m afraid that for the moment I’ve no plans to do so.  You see, most of my time is currently taken up looking after my 92-year-old mother; I’m not getting much time even to write.  However, as and when things change, I can assure you that details will be posted on my website. And I always love coming to Sweden, so that would be at the top of my list for overseas trips – although you’re right, it’s up to the publishers and/or bookshops to issue the invitation.

I’ve got to go now, but again, thank you so much for getting in touch.  It’s really special to know how much the books have meant to you.

With very best wishes, Michelle