I’ve been interviewed by Mieneke van der Salm, who runs the excellent blog A Fantastical Librarian. Mieneke reviewed my novel Talus and the Frozen King recently, and kindly invited me to take part in one of her Author Queries, as part of a special week in which she’s celebrating historical fiction.
Here’s what I had to say in answer to Mieneke’s question: What drew you to writing about the Neolithic?
I hated history at school. Too many kings and queens, too many disconnected revolutions and civil wars. Never any context. I’ve always thought of history differently – as a continuous, flowing river in which everything connects. Whenever I think of it in those terms, my mind naturally strays to the river’s source, the wellspring. Prehistory.
Two novels about prehistory have inspired me. The first is Stig of the Dump by Clive King, which was one of my childhood favourites. It’s about a modern-day boy who befriends a caveman he finds living in an old chalk pit near his home. The second is Robert Holdstock’s incomparable Mythago Wood, in which a small patch of English woodland conceals a vast, magical realm of prehistory and myth.
In their different ways, both books ask questions about who we are, and where we came from. They evoke strangeness and beauty, but they also tell compelling stories about characters you care about deeply. That was the trick I wanted to achieve with Talus and the Frozen King; yes, I wanted to delve into the past and yes, I wanted to explore what it means to be human, but most of all I wanted just to tell a good yarn.