Today children’s author Saviour Pirotta joins Ian Eagleton in The Reading Realm to talk about the Wolfsong series, which is set during the Stone Age…
Without giving too much away, can you tell us about your new book The Mysterious Island?
The Mysterious Island is the third book in my Wolfsong series. It’s set at the end of the Neolithic period and the start of the Bronze Age. The series is about a timid boy called Wolf who wants to be a shaman. He sets out on a journey of self-discovery from his home in Skara Brae in the Orkneys and takes in the Cave of Lascaux and Stonehenge.
In The Mysterious Island, his precious bird-skull amulet is stolen by his rival and he chases him all the way to the Mediterranean in an attempt to retrieve it. There he discovers an island where civilisation has advanced far beyond his community’s in Scotland.
How will The Mysterious Island be similar to the other books in the Wolfsong series (The Stolen Spear and The Whispering Stones)? How will it be different?
The first two books in the series are set in a cold, wintry Britain but the third introduces Wolf and his friend Crow to the sunny Mediterranean where it’s already the Bronze age and people have started worshipping goddesses rather than living in constant fear of spirits. He gets trapped inside a volcano which today is known as Mount Etna, he sees the dolphins for the first time and he has an encounter with a terrifying goddess called She Who Sleeps.
In all three adventures, Wolf is trying to find himself and his place in the world. In The Mysterious Island he starts to find some answers, and they are not always the ones he is expecting.
The books are perfect for that tricky 7-9 age group and for children who are becoming more confident with longer books. What are the challenges of writing for this age group?
I absolutely love writing for this age group. 7- 9 year olds have very sophisticated tastes. Through television and the cinema, they are used to very complex storytelling. They have an innate understanding of character and motivation and if you put one foot wrong, you’re in danger of losing them. But you also have to keep the language relatively simple. It’s a challenge but one I’m happy to face.
You manage to weave so many interesting historical facts into the stories and pre-history and the Stone Age. What has been your favourite Stone Age fact you’ve discovered while writing these books?
I absolutely love digging up interesting historical facts. I have a notebook full of them. Every time I come across a little nugget of information, I write it down hoping to use it in a book. My favourite historical fact about the Stone Age? People built round houses because they were scared bad spirits would get trapped in the corners and make their life a misery.
I loved the front cover design and illustrations by Davide Ortu. What do you feel they add to the story?
I think Davide’s work is astonishing. Illustrating historical fiction is very tricky because the details have to be true to the period and place but they also have to connect with a 21st century readership. His work for my books really helped bring the characters and locations alive and the details are accurate. You can learn a lot about life in the Stone Age just by looking at the pictures.
Are there plans for any more books in this series? If so, can you give us any clues about what might happen?
I’ve just finished writing the fourth and final book. It’s the grand finale. Wolf is made an offer that appeals to his sense of ego, an offer he can’t refuse. But it’s a trick. When he accepts, it brings his whole world crashing down around his ears…(and that’s all I’m saying)
I wondered if you were running any virtual workshops at the moment for schools and if so if you could tell us a bit about them?
I’m doing a lot of online workshops at the moment, especially with schools who are studying the Stone Age, Ancient Greece and the Golden Age of Islam. The sessions are a mixture of writing workshops, readings from my books and Q&A’s.
I also do general writing workshops where I show kids how to plot a story in five easy steps. You can book me through Emily at Virtual Author Visits, Authors Aloud and Authors Abroad. Teachers and librarians can also contact me direct through my website, www.saviourpirotta.com.
I have great fun doing them and kids love getting a peek into my writing room and seeing all the different ‘inspiration mojos’ I use to help me write.
Finally, can you describe The Mysterious Island in three words
Journey. Exciting. Explosive.