It’s Gillian Philip. Or is it?

I must have fallen asleep at some point, because when I woke up, there was Gillian Philip, travelling all over the place, the ‘victim’ of great success with.., yes, with what? In the end I had to bite the bullet and actually ask her. You can either be cool, or you can be informed. I wanted to be the latter more than the former. So, ladies and gentlemen, here is Erin Hunter!

Apart from writing some pretty fantastic fantasy set in Scotland, you have your writing fingers in a few other pies, don’t you? How many?

Let me see… I’ve just finished writing a teen dark fantasy series for Hothouse and Hodder, called Darke Academy – that’s under the name Gabriella Poole. The final book, Lost Spirits, came out in November. Just now I’m writing the latest Erin Hunter series, Survivors, which is about dogs surviving in a post-apocalyptic kind of world. That’s for Working Partners and Harper Collins. I’ve also written a couple of Beast Quests, also for Working Partners, as Adam Blade – that was HUGE fun because I used to read Beast Quest to my son. I get lots of Brownie points for that with the boy, though I have now been slightly overshadowed by a certain pal writing Skylanders.

Oh and I’m also trying to write another contemporary YA under my own name. That’s progressing s-l-o-w-l-y. And I’m writing the fourth and final Rebel Angels book (and thank you for the kind comment about those).

And I gather you’ve been very successful in the US with something? What, exactly?

That’s the Survivors series! Erin Hunter is pretty big in the US, so I’ve been lucky to become a part of that.

Tell us some more?

Erin Hunter’s Warriors and Seekers (about cats and bears respectively)  are really popular, and the teams at Working Partners and Harper Collins had always wanted to do a series about dogs. They wanted a different scenario to Warriors or Seekers, though, and they eventually decided on this apocalyptic storyline. There’s been some kind of huge disaster, precipitated by an earthquake, and all the humans have vanished. (Which is really important, obviously – kind of like getting rid of the parents in a children’s book.) So the dogs – wild, feral and domesticated alike – have to learn how to survive and adapt. It’s huge fun writing about all the different characters and breeds. Having my own three dogs – reliable Lab, naughty Jack Russell cross, and slightly prissy Papillon – really helps…

You even went to America on what seemed like a rather grand tour. Where did you go, and who were your audiences?

It was FABULOUS! Harper Collins arranged a five-city tour in September, which was just about the most fun I’ve ever had. It took in Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco, Chicago and Cincinnati, so cured two of my phobias – early mornings and flying. I had media escorts in each city, stayed in some gorgeous hotels – all a bit gobsmacking – and I made some really great new friends. There were lots of events, at schools and at some amazing bookshops, plus some interviews. And the lovely Karen Ball from WP came along for the first two cities to support me – literally at one point, since I fell on my face in Atlanta airport.

Why haven’t we heard more about this ‘back home?’

Survivors hasn’t got a UK publisher yet. *sad face*

Is all this making you rich? Or just very famous?

It’s not me that’s famous, it’s Erin! She has a lot of incarnations. I think it’s great that Harper Collins are very open about the fact that she is several people. All the fans know about that, and they’re fine with it. The fans are pretty fabulous actually – they know the characters and the histories intimately, They bring along gifts – anything from stuffed toys to pictures to character family trees. It’s genuinely touching and I keep every single one.

Do you still remember us, your old (very old, in my case) fans?

Hahaha! YES. And you can’t say you’re old because that would make me ancient.

(This Erin person might know about dogs, but she can’t do arithmetic. Just because I’m shorter than her doesn’t mean I’m younger. And please note how nimbly she sidestepped the wealth qustion.)

Thank you Erin/Gillian/Adam/Gabriella!

Gillian Philip

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