"I'm writing this in south London in the early days of "lockdown", and like all of us I'm trying to adapt to the new normal. In my case that means supporting a sister in self-isolation with symptoms of Covid-19, an 89-year-old mother who lives alone and depends on me - and trying to write a book. (All of which is, I know, nothing compared to what many others are dealing with.)
So why a new book? The short answer is my publishers have been planning this for over a year, and the books are printed, the audiobook recorded by Sir Ian McKellen. But it's also because people need stories, now more than ever.
Two days before schools had to shut in the UK, I wrote to a primary school teacher in Cumbria, who'd sent me her classes' letters about WOLF BROTHER. I had fun answering their questions, and the most frequently asked was: "Can you write a sequel to the WOLF BROTHER books?"
I've been hearing that for years from readers of all ages (the youngest is six, the oldest ninety-nine). I never planned to go beyond the sixth book, but the pleas of fans - plus a great idea for a plot that came to me on a trip to arctic Norway - finally changed my mind.
Hence VIPER'S DAUGHTER. It's a standalone story, you don't need to have read the previous books to enjoy it. I wrote it both for existing fans, and for new readers who want a rich, immersive adventure in an entirely different world. And I do mean adventure! My aim is to make it impossible for the reader to put the book down.
If you're new to the world of WOLF BROTHER, VIPER'S DAUGHTER is about a boy, a girl and a wolf, battling to survive in the Stone Age. Torak is the best tracker in the Forest. Renn is an amazing shot with a bow and arrow. Wolf is a wolf, and parts of the story are told from his point of view: through his eyes and ears, and crucially, his nose.
VIPER'S DAUGHTER starts when Renn realises that Torak is in danger - and she's the threat. She leaves, and to find her, Torak and Wolf must trek north, to the Edge of the World: a hostile waste of ice caves, volcanoes, and mammoths...