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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Barbara Henderson’s latest novel Wilderness Wars, an eco thriller set on a Scottish island. And if this wasn’t brilliant enough, Barbara has also written a guest piece for today’s stop on the tour “The Supernatural in Wilderness Wars”.

Wilderness Wars Ebook Cover with Quote

** My thanks to the lovely folks at Cranachan Books and Barbara Henderson for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take par in the blog tour **

 

Description:

What if nature fights back?

Still in a daze, I take it all in: the wind, the leaden skies, the churning moody sea.
And, far in the distance, a misty outline.
Skelsay.
Wilderness haven. Building-site. Luxury-retreat-to-be.
And now, home.

When her father’s construction work takes Em’s family to the uninhabited island of Skelsay, she is excited, but also a little uneasy. Soon Em, and her friend Zac, realise that the setbacks, mishaps and accidents on the island point to something altogether more sinister: the wilderness all around them has declared war.

Danger lurks everywhere. But can Em and Zac persuade the adults to believe it before it’s too late?

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit to being a huge fan of Barbara Henderson’s writing, I have been since I read her first book Fir for Luck. There’s a richness in the words that she skillfully weaves together to paint a vivid picture of the story playing out before your eyes.
Like in each of her books, strong characters come to life from the pages and lead readers on a merry adventure through the book.

Em is a young lass who has moved with her family, and several other people to an uninhabited island named Skelsay with the plan of building a luxury hotel and holiday resort. Immediately I felt a connection with Em, something about this feisty young girl made my heart soar with pride. She’s not too happy about the family’s move, she wanted to stay in Glasgow, not move to a remote island, especially not to cramped living quarters or being cooped up with her annoying little brother so much. There’s something in Em’s personality that readers will be able to connect with, she struggles to comprehend the adult world and the decisions they make at times. Whilst she’s not an adult, she does have the makings of a mature head on her young shoulders, demonstrating that she can understand the importance of doing or saying the right thing at times.

As you might expect from the description of the book, the atmospheric setting plays a very important part in the tale. The vivid imagery conjures a bleak yet intriguing landscape and as the construction work gets underway, it’s not hard to envision the various changes to the surroundings. The way that nature takes on a sinister edge makes this such a gripping read, is the wilderness really turning on the construction workers and their families? Is this all in the imagination of Em and her new friend Zac?

The plotting is exciting and the intrigue interwoven throughout makes this the sort of book that you want to race through to find out how it’s all going to come together, find out what lies ahead. It’s a truly remarkable novel and one that I would heartily recommend to readers old and young.

You can buy a copy of Wilderness Wars via:

Cranachan Publishing
Amazon UK
Waterstones

 

Guest post by Barbara Henderson:

Unbelievable!

A supernatural eco-thriller? For children?

It’s not the genre that would spring to mind when scanning through the 9-12 Market, the readership most likely to read and enjoy my books. Does it need a supernatural element at all?

For large chunks of Wilderness Wars, nothing supernatural happens at all – The workforce moves to the island and spend time setting themselves up as a community: tidying and arranging and organising their lives. Beginning to form a routine. The mishaps and accidents, at the beginning at least, feel utterly commonplace, as if the islanders are simply beset by a little bit of bad luck.

But bad luck on its own does not make for a compelling story. It’s simply not enough. Barry Cunningham, the publisher who famously gave a wee manuscript called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone its first break, has said that the single most important feature he looks for in a story is ‘a formidable opponent’.

There are one or two characters who might fall into this category, but the core idea of the novel ‘What if nature fights back’ requires that the wilderness itself become the opponent, the threat, the one who has it in for my characters.

It is a formidable enemy: Weather, land, sea, plants and creatures unite in my book in a single purpose: to force the tiny workforce of construction workers and their families off this island once and for all. This requires a considerable jump in the imagination: I am asking the reader to suspend their disbelief, and to accept that the whole of the natural world can co-ordinate itself to fight back, to draw the line, and to say: this far and no further.

And yet, is a simple enough concept, and one that readers, so far, have engaged with pretty readily. Just like in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, where the liquid turns a range of colours and the transformation into the monster simply happens. Readers aren’t giving scientific facts: they are given an outcome, and the outcome is the only thing which matters.

The only other flash of the supernatural in Wilderness Wars is Em’s vision. She has a vivid dream of the worst possible outcome, if the adults do not agree to leave the island. Step by step, the various of her vision appear in real life, and she now understands the inevitable destruction which awaits. It sets up the final climax of the novel, a life and death sort of jeopardy which, I hope, propels the reader forward.

Without the supernatural component, it would be a story of predictable morality: look after your environment, respect the wilderness. Yawn, yah-de-yah – a lecture book with no drama.

On the other hand, with the terrifying concept that you have incurred the wrath of the whole natural world around you, it becomes a tense survival story, a chase, a war. There are battle lines and strategies, and ultimately, a final showdown. It delivers all the lessons and provokes all the thinking the boring version would, but subtly hidden within A BARRAGE OF DRAMATIC LIFE AND DEATH ACTION.

I know which version I’d rather read!

 

About the Author: rpt

Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school.
Writing predominantly for children, Barbara won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition in 2012, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition in 2013 and was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013. In 2015, wins include the US-based Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition. She blogs regularly at write4bairns.wordpress.com where full details of her writing achievements can also be found.
Barbara is currently based in Inverness.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.barbarahenderson.co.uk/
Twitter: @scattyscribbler
Blog: write4bairns.wordpress.com

 

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Today I am so excited to share the cover of Barbara Henderson’s new book with you!  If you’ve been following my blog for the past year or so, you will have seen that I have a real soft spot for Barbara’s books.  There’s something so magical about the way she weaves together her stories, the characters pop off the pages and each of her books holds a special place in my heart so it’s a great honour to be able to share the cover of Wilderness Wars with you along with a wee guest post written by Barbara too.

Publication date for Wilderness Wars is 16 August 2018 and I’m pretty sure that preorder links will be available soon (as soon as I get them I will be placing my order so will let you all know!), but meantime, here’s the book blurb before you see THAT cover!

Description:

What if nature fights back?

In a daze, I take it all in: the wind, the leaden skies, the churning moody sea.

And, far in the distance, a misty outline.

Skelsay.

Wilderness haven. Building-site. Luxury-retreat-to-be.

And now, home.

When her father’s construction work takes Em’s family to the uninhabited island of Skelsay, she is excited, but also a little uneasy. Soon Em and her friend Zac realise that the setbacks, mishaps and accidents on the island point to something altogether more sinister: the wilderness all around them has declared war.

Danger lurks everywhere. But can they persuade the adults to believe them it before it’s too late?

 

 

 

Wilderness Wars EBOOK.jpg

Wow!  What a cover, isn’t it spectacular?  I cannot wait to read this and find out what happens on the island of Skelsay!

 

And now, the fab guest piece by Barbara about the book, the journey to the cover image and why it’s perfect!

 

Wilderness Wars… great title!’ So said a writer friend at the beginning of the writing process. She had no idea what the book was going to be about, and to be fair, neither had I. All I had was the question which would become the tagline: What if nature fights back?

Intrigued by the concept, I began to spin a tale of mishaps and escalation, of real threat and frustration, of danger and ultimately, of disaster. I lived and breathed those moments with my characters. This was a story I didn’t like writing: I LOVED writing this story. The first draft was completed in 2013, and if anyone had asked me what my favourite of my seven completed novels was, I’d have chosen Wilderness Wars without hesitation.

I can’t even explain why – I think my writing is much more poetic in Fir for Luck, and the structure in Punch is probably tighter. But I had a connection with the subject which has only intensified with the subsequent years of Trumpish arrogance: When is it ok to impose our agenda on the natural world, and to take without giving back? And how far is too far? How can we protect the wild places we have left from short-term profiteers like Ian Pratt in my book? I was hugely invested in this book, whether it ever saw the light of day or not. I was ecstatic when Cranachan decided to take it on.

However, without realising it, I also had a fairly fixed idea in my head of what the cover needed:

Threat and darkness. Waves. Earth and sea colours, and drama – lots and lots of it! Could I get away with another running silhouette? How could a battle of such unequal parties be shown, and how could it captivate young people – and the adults who buy books for them

I hadn’t realised how inflexible I had become until Cranachan’s designer Anne Glennie and I had ‘the cover discussion’. I had sent her image after image of, essentially, the same thing: a stylised giant wave. In her patience with me she had a go at manipulating lots of options but also threw in some images which were very different. I dismissed them one after the other in my mind, but the vibrant blue, the jaggy shards of rock and the seemingly idyllic blue sky of this particular design drew me magnetically towards it. It wasn’t what I had thought of, but it was vibrant. Attractive and majestic, without being cosy – the birds have no eyes, for goodness’ sake! Creepy enough to suggest a threat, surely.

Time for the final test: I placed the image on the computer screen and walked away as far as I could in the house. Turning, I opened my eyes and wham! It would have the impact it needed, across a bookshop. The power to draw readers towards it.

This realisation was the thin wedge Anne needed, the seed of doubt which allowed me to finally let go of my boring wave.

And man, am I glad I did. It’s a stunner, this cover, and my screensaver for everything.

EVERYTHING!

I LOOOOOVE it!

About the Author:

IMG_2648

Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school.
Writing predominantly for children, Barbara won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition in 2012, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition in 2013 and was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013. In 2015, wins include the US-based Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition. She blogs regularly at write4bairns.wordpress.com where full details of her writing achievements can also be found.
Barbara is currently based in Inverness.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.barbarahenderson.co.uk/
Twitter: @scattyscribbler
Blog: write4bairns.wordpress.com

 

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