It has been a busy start to the year for me with the publication of Sing You Home, but now it is time to concentrate on my new book, Lone Wolf. I am really excited about it, and I wanted to tell you all on the Tesco Book blog how it came about …
One morning I woke up thinking about wolves: how they seem to function as a family; how the group is more important than the individual. I didn’t know how, but it seemed to me that there was a metaphor in here that was going to work with the story I was trying to tell.
That’s when I created the character of Luke Warren who has a terrible accident. Luke is a man who studied wolves not by observing them, but by living with them. At least, I thought I had created the character. Little did I know there was someone real who had done just this, Shaun Ellis, an Englishman who had lived with a wild wolf pack in the Rockies. I went to visit him in Devon at the wildlife park where he now keeps several captive packs of wolves, and got to meet him and his wolves up close and personal.
So, you will want to know why wolves and what is the story, right? Well, I first thought about the right to die when I was on a plane over a decade ago. It has taken a while for the story to come good, but then I was sitting next to a neurologist who dealt with these sorts of issues all the time. And the wolves? They aren’t cold blooded killers, I learned from Shaun Ellis, they are very intelligent animals for whom nothing matters more than family. So what would happen if two children were fighting over whether or not to terminate life support for their parent.
I knew that one of the characters in the story, and involved in the decision, would be a prodigal son with a secret in his past; and that his sister would be the more faithful child who was too young to have a legal say in the decision. Added to them, there was the father himself to consider – the man whose life was hanging in the balance.
Often the relatives who are put in the position of making decisions about life support are thinking about their own reluctance to let a loved one go. But it’s never a simple choice. In the wolf world, as Shaun told me, injured wolves slink away to die alone because they know it’s for the greater good of the pack; he has also seen wolves in prominent pack roles nursed back to health because their knowledge and expertise is so necessary to the pack.
Which of these two extremes Luke Warren best fits is up to the reader.