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Hello Mrs Holmes. Thank you for taking the time for this interview. You have written several adventures for children and youths after your time at the Oxford university, e.g. ”Rider in the Dark”. Where did your love for the written word start and how did you become a writer?

As a child, I learned to read very young and was instantly smitten with books. I read all my mother’s pony stories and then moved on to any book I could lay my hands on! I loved escaping into worlds filled with animals and adventures and beautiful locations. I became a writer almost by accident! I trained as an English teacher, then worked as an editor for a children’s publisher. The opportunity to write came up and I thought, I’ll have a go!

You write with Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry and Tui Sutherland the books of the “Warrior Cat”-series under the name of Erin Hunter. How did this cooperation come to pass? Could you write about the work in an author-team: How do you share the work, who does what?

Yes, there are now four Erin Hunters! I came up with the original ideas for Warriors and Seekers, and still create all the characters and storylines; Kate, Cherith and Tui take turns to write the full-length manuscripts which I then edit to check they sound like “Erin” throughout, and are consistent with all the other stories. Kate, Cherith and Tui have never met. I knew them already through my work as an editor, and I invited them to work on the Erin Hunter books with me because they are hugely talented writers who love cats! It’s a great way of working.

What where the reasons to use a pen name for publishing the “Warrior Cats”-books?

I’m afraid there is a rather humdrum reason for this! When the first book came out, we wanted it to be placed on shelves in the bookstore close to another popular animal fantasy, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. That way, Redwall readers might notice the Warriors books and decide to give them a try. Therefore we needed a surname that came close alphabetically to Jacques – Hunter fits the bill, and has a nice ring of tooth and claw, too! We chose Erin because we love the name, and it has a wild, mythic, not-too-girly feel.

Where did the idea to write Fantasy from the point of view of a cat start – especially since you’re more of a dog-person?

My publisher asked me to write one - yes, just one! - book about cats because they are such popular pets. I had so many ideas for a kittypet-turned-warrior that we didn’t stop at the first  book, but kept going! I must admit that I would have preferred to write about dogs at the time, but now I love writing about cats because they are so clever and graceful, and also mysterious. It’s not hard to imagine that they have a very intense private life which humans don’t see.

In the first season all the adventures were told by Sammy aka Firestar. The first book of the second season was told by Brambleclaw, the second by Stormfur. Will future books all be told by different cats?

Each season moves on one generation, so Season Three will feature Brambleclaw’s children at the centre of the stories. This means I can create new, fresh characters, and keep both readers and writers interested!

Between the first and the second season stood “Firestar’s Quest” which you’ve written later on. What lead you to that?

We wanted to produce a longer book that stood outside the regular series, which readers could pick up even if they hadn’t read any of the previous stories. I had always been curious about what happened to Firestar in the year between the first and second season, and was thrilled to have a chance to create an adventure for him in Firestar’s Quest.

In Germany the books “Midnight” and “Moonrise” were published for the new second season of “Warrior Cats” – “The New Prophecy”. Could you tell the readers what will await them in the third book “Dawn”?

In Dawn, the four Clans reach their new home by the lake. StarClan is waiting for them, and the territories seem perfect for all of their needs. But of course there are problems to overcome, such as hostile kittypets, curious Twolegs, and a very sinister omen …

Many themes are handled in the adventures: murder, treason, bullying, hunger, catastrophes and last but not least the destruction of the habitat though humans. What problems will the cats await in the future?

All of these themes continue to cause challenges for the cats, but we will also see some scarier challenges from the Dark Forest, the place where cats go if they are not allowed into StarClan when they die. I wanted to explore the cats’ concept of religion, and just how far their ancestors could interfere with their lives.

In England the first three books of season 4 of the Clan-cats have been published. How many seasons are planned? Do you have an active part in those decisions?

There will definitely be a fifth season, about the very first cats to settle in the forest that featured in Season One. After that, neither I nor the publisher know! I am always consulted about my ideas for a future season, but ultimately the decision lies with my American publisher, HarperCollins.

Next to the novels and audiobooks the Warrior Cats have been put into Manga. Are you or your team part of that and how?

I love the manga, and I am very much involved. I create very detailed stories for each manga book which are then sent to a scriptwriter, Dan Jolley, who specializes in graphic novels. He turns my regular stories into dialogue and stage directions; the script is then sent to a brilliant artist, James Barry, who draws the pictures according to Dan’s directions. I get to comment on the script and artwork at every stage. I’m very proud of these books, and they are at the heart of the Warriors series.

What does a normal work day look like if you’re not – like in March 2011 in Germany – on booktour?

Very ordinary, really! I get up, have breakfast, do housework, then sit down at my computer and work until lunchtime. If the weather is nice, I take my dog Missy for a walk on the hills behind my house, then it’s back to work until about 5pm. Writing is a job like any other, sometimes fun, sometimes quite dull. Responding to interviews like this is definitely the fun part!

How do you receive critic?

I try not to read online comments about the books because it can be easy to get downhearted if there is negative feedback. I write each book as well as I possibly can, and always aim to improve. If I read too many good comments, I might stop trying to hard! It’s best to focus on how good I think the story is, and not let other people influence my opinion.

How important is the contact to your readers? Do their ideas influence the story?

Keeping in touch with my readers is hugely important to me. It’s a great honour to receive fanmail or meet my readers when I’m on tour. I can’t quite believe how popular these books are! I would be delighted if just one person read them! But I try to preserve my own ideas about the stories, and have confidence in my ability to create a world that readers will enjoy. If I listened to everyone, the books would be very confusing because everyone likes different things!

What do you read yourself?

I love thrillers and crime stories, especially by American writers such as Tess Gerritsen, Jeffrey Deaver and Kathy Reichs.

Would you like to tell our readers something more?

A lot of readers ask me for advice on becoming an author. I always say that my top tip is READ, READ, AND READ SOME MORE! There is no better way to learn about different kinds of writing, and which styles appeal to you most. Read everything! Poetry, plays, non-fiction, even instructions on how to bake a cake! All words are useful if you are going to make writing your career.

Thanks for taking the time for the interview.

My pleasure, thank you for asking me!





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