It feels like I’ve been waiting such a long time to bring you this news and I am very, very excited. On Tuesday, May 8th 2018 I will be releasing my very first novel, Guardian of Giria.
This book has been a long time in the making. It began in the summer of 2016, when I was out taking wildlife photos with my husband, Arūnas. He was driving and I was scanning the countryside for signs of life. All of a sudden, I spotted a fox and a roe deer doe running across a field together. I wondered if the fox might be trying to catch the deer, but the deer was way too big for that. I mentioned it to Arūnas who told me it was quite common to see them together. Immediately, I began to imagine what they might be doing together, what their plan was. I started recounting their adventures to Arūnas, and the idea for Guardian of Giria was born.
Little by little, I added to their tale. They had families and other friends. They lived in a forest with many other creatures, including a formidable wild boar who I decided was master of the forest. I described my boar to Arūnas and he loved him. “What’s his name?” I asked. “Felix,” Arūnas replied without pause. I liked it and he has been Felix ever since.
Over the following weeks, I kept adding new bits to the story. Arūnas played along, asking questions about what they were up to. Eventually, when I had quite a cast of characters assembled, he told me I should write a book about their adventures. It was late October and I was seeing lots of posts online about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which takes place each November. The aim is to write a 50,000 word story in one month. I decided I would try!
And so I began, writing 1,000 to 2,000 words each morning, then researching animal behaviours in the afternoon. It was very important to me that the animals only do things that were appropriate to their species. They live in a real forest environment and face real animal problems. The only exception is their ability to speak – or I would have had no story! So they can speak and smile and laugh, but are otherwise true to their own species.
I did not quite achieve 50,000 words in November, although I wasn’t far off. But even when I reached 50,000, I knew the story wasn’t finished. And so I continued, finally writing “The end” in early February 2017.
Then began the long process of editing and rewriting (and editing and rewriting!) until finally, I had a manuscript ready to publish. This was followed by typesetting, cover design, and all the other elements that transform a manuscript into a book. I will tell you more about all of these steps in due course, but for now, please let me introduce you to Guardian of Giria.
Felix, a grumpy wild boar and undisputed king of the forest, is annoyed to discover an intruder has visited his private clearing. The only traces are a strange scent and an even stranger set of footprints —footprints that appear to have been left by a dog with only two feet. A few days later, a young fox cub goes missing and her frantic mother asks Felix for help. Felix investigates and discovers two enormous wolves. When he learns of their hunting capabilities from a travelling raven, Felix realises the residents of Giria Wood are now in great danger and immediately devises a plan to guard the animals and eliminate the wolves.
What follows is an exciting adventure as the animals band together to protect and defend against this new threat. The plot involves a varied cast of characters, including a group of misfit pre-adult boars, a family of foxes, a family of beavers, a knowledgeable raven and an assembled group of magnificent red stags who would really rather be preening themselves for the annual rut than dealing with wolves.
Age Range: 9-14
Available worldwide from May 8th 2018. To pre-order, see here.