Interview: Michelle Paver on hands-on research, wolves, and Sir Ian McKellen

Interview: Michelle Paver on hands-on research, wolves, and Sir Ian McKellen
Michelle Paver is a novelist and children’s author best known for her Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. She spoke to Abbie Jaggers about pretending to be a wolf, having her books narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, oh, and that time she came face to face with a black bear in the Californian forest!

Listen to the highlights from the interview below:

On her career as a writer:

“I used to be a lawyer, and then I chucked it in because I’d always wanted to be a writer.”


On how her science background is very useful to her as an author:

“I’m interested in altered states of mind.”


On having her books narrated by Sir Ian McKellen:

“It’s going to sound like you’re the sort of clan mage, you know – these are set in the Stone Age – telling a story a story round a camp fire.”


On how she got into the mind of a wolf:

“As a writer you put yourself into the mind of – the skin of – whatever character you’re writing, and so I became a wolf when I was writing those bits.”


On being a patron of a charity that’s close to her heart and her books:

“In book four, Outcast, I needed some wolf cubs, because they come into the story, and lo and behold wolf cubs appeared at the wolf trust. […] And even better, they named one of them Torak, after the hero.”


On the importance of real experiences as research for her writing:

“I’m really trying to create the feeling of the Stone Age: what’s it like to be in the forest and, as you say, eat elk heart or, in the case of further afield in Greenland, raw seal blubber.”


On a terrifying experience she had with a bear in the woods in California:

“I saw these two bear cubs, which was great! And then I saw the mother bear, which, um, wasn’t.”


On how her childhood experiences have influenced her books:

“I think myths generally are attractive to children because they’re so violent and scary and wild.”


On what’s she’s working on now:

“I’m working very hard at the moment on a Gothic story for grown-ups.”


Thanks to Michelle Paver for speaking to us!

Listening Books members can borrow audiobooks from Michelle’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series on MP3 CD, as well as her book Dark Matter. Book one from the Gods and Warriors series, The Outsiders, is available to download and stream.

You can find out more about Michelle Paver and her brilliant books on her website.


This post was written by Holly Newson. The interview was done by Abigail Jaggers.

Picture credit: Transangst

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