Blog A 'Wild' Q&A with Ele Fountain
What inspired you to write Wild?
I like making connections between news headlines and everyday life. Kids know that rainforests are in danger. That danger can feel abstract – something to worry about, but also something far away, out of sight. I try to give it a solid form, to touch and feel, and imagine experiencing for yourself. I want to make sense of big topics by immersing my readers in the heart of them. This also gives me scope to create a pacy narrative. A deeper sense of understanding can empower and give hope rather than fuelling anxiety, and who doesn’t love adventure stories?
Did you learn anything when writing your previous 5 books that you included/used when writing Wild?
I’ve learnt something new from each book, but the first one taught me the difference between writing a story and writing a novel. Ideas for stories are often discussed, far less the endurance required to complete a book. I discovered that despite days when everything I wrote sounded wrong, or my favourite character had become superfluous, I could get through it. Then I wrote my third novel, Melt, during lockdown. My writing routine disappeared overnight and I panicked that I might never finish the book. But I adapted my expectations and embraced the ‘tortoise’ model – slow but steady. I did finish, and in time for publication date too.
Have you always taken an interest in the environment?
Always – but when I was younger I didn’t make the connection between wild places, and the feeling of happiness they gave me. In my twenties, I worked in a city and barely noticed the changing seasons, or birds singing. I realised what was missing and began to seek green spaces or time outside whenever I could.I think there’s a need for nature inside all of us. A plant on a windowsill, a park, or a walk in the countryside can feed that need. But some places, like rainforests, cannot be recreated. They need protection because once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.
Can you tell us more about how Jack and his feelings represent those of the rainforest?
Jack’s feelings are wild and unpredictable, like the rainforest. But the interesting similarity for me, is that within that wildness lies a kernel of order and harmony.
Can you sum up Wild in just three words?
Raw, fierce, adventure.
What was your favourite book as a child?
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. It’s stayed with me for over thirty years. I was gripped from the very first page – the very first words, in fact– Midwinter’s Eve. The story takes place over Christmas, but not as we know it. The tension, the atmosphere, the undercurrent of ancient power set within a cosy festive period was intoxicating.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Everyone has good writing days and bad writing days, but once you’ve experienced the thrill of words flowing from your fingertips, nothing can beat it. Similarly when a story begins to sing, and you can feel the shape of it, there are few feelings of satisfaction that compare.
With award-winning books already in the bag, do you have any literary ambitions you’re yet to fulfil?
My literary ambition has always been to write page-turning stories that perhaps also share something of the world and our place in it.
Where is your favourite place to write?
At my desk, my cat curled up next to me, snoring peacefully.
Do you have any projects in the pipeline you can share with us?
I am working on something with waves, storms, and a protagonist to match…
What is your number one tip for young writers who aspire to be an author?
It’s important to plan your story before you begin, but sometimes the very best ideas, the ones which truly add magic to your narrative, arrive whilst you’re writing. Don’t be afraid to let them in and see if they could work.
Where can fans find out more about you and your work?
You can buy a copy of Wild by Ele Fountain here!Published: Fri 12th May 2023