Saturday, 8 December 2012

Wild In the Woods by Emma Barnes

I meet lots of budding young writers when visiting schools, and they often ask me how to “get published”.

Here’s one way! The RSPCA is having a writing competition for children – but you’ll have to be quick, the deadline is Monday.

I was really happy when they asked me to blog about this competition. I have a big reason (actually he’s small and muddy) to be grateful to the RSPCA – they provided my dog, Rocky, from one of their rehoming centres. After a year, it’s hard to imagine life without him (or my house without the mud).

The competition is for writing inspired by British wildlife. I think the RSPCA approached me because my latest book, Wolfie, does – in a way – contain British wildlife, although wolves have been gone from the UK for over two hundred years. However, when my magical canine Wolfie goes rabbit-hunting in the local park, in the company of her rather shocked owner, Lucie, she is only doing what wolves have always done.

Fictional wolves aside, Britain does have wonderful wildlife, but it often goes unnoticed and unappreciated by our children. After all, it’s not large and colourful, like the jungle animals that they see in zoos or on TV. And it’s timid, especially when clumping children come by. Hedgehogs, badgers, deer, otters, moles, kingfishers, hares, owls : all are out there, but elusive.

So books are an important way of interesting children in the wildlife that is all around them. Whether it the clothes-wearing creatures of The Wind in the Willows, the brave Fox and his friends in The Animals of Farthing Wood or the visitor from another planet in Harriet’s Hare, they all help us see animals in a new way, and empathise more deeply with them.

My all-time favourite is the classic Watership Down by Richard Adams. Famously, this follows a group of rabbits, led by the brave Hazel, in an attempt to escape the destruction of their old warren and to found a new one. It takes one of the most humble, common and everyday examples of British wildlife – the rabbit - and turns them into protagonists in an epic adventure. And the feeling for the British countryside is wonderful.

So, young writers, get to your keyboards! Maybe it will be the start of the next Watership Down...

Visit Emma's web-site
Visit Emma's facebook page
Emma blogged about her favourite Christmas books here
Emma's latest book Wolfie is available from Amazon


Joan Lennon said...

Hi, Emma - I also posted about this competition over on Girls Heart Books not so long ago, so here's hoping they get a slew of entries. Unless that should be a sleugh. A lot, anyway!

Re. Rocky - and mud? Impossible. Just look at that innocent face ...

Emma Barnes said...

Let's hope so, Joan - I'm afraid this blog is rather late in the day but I've tried to mention it other places also, and Girls Heart Books should definitely be the right target audience.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Hi Emma. I LOVE your Emma Chichister Clark cover design for Wolfie. It's wonderful. Also love the title with the diminutive. Inbali Iserles was reading it for a review at the Winter Warmer at Folly Farm 2 weeks ago. She hogged the book and hogged the fire!

I'm just in the middle of a series of Indiana Jones type adventure stories with frogs as the main topic, so far set in the Swamps of Okavango and Madagascar, It wasn't picked up here in the UK. My editor felt readers needed lions and tigers! A pity as there won't be any lions and tigers when we lose the entire food chain by letting go of frogs and committing them to the Dodo list.

Emma Barnes said...

Hi Diane - thank you, I love that cover too. She's such a talented artist.

Frogs sound very intriguing to me. After all, if you can have rabbits (Watership Down), rats (Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh) and for that matter, toads (just been to see Wind in the Willows) then why not frogs? Good luck!