MICHELLE PAVER (1960 – )
When born: In 1960, just 50 years ago!
Where born: In Nysaland in Africa (which is now called Malawi). Michelle and her family moved to England when she was three years old, she lived in Essex till she was eight, and then she moved to Wimbledon where she has lived pretty much ever since.
School days: Michelle enjoyed school mostly but she had a very bad time when she turned 11, when a new girl in her class got all the other kids to gang up against her. It made her miserable and very lonely. Her mum told her to ignore the lot of them, which she did, and after a rough year the new girl left so things got back to normal. But she says she has never forgotten it and that it probably helped make her a writer, because for that year, she retreated into her imagination.
Why and when she began writing: Michelle started writing when she was five years old! She wrote a story about a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a rabbit called Hamish! She wrote because it was something she “just wanted to do” which is the reason most writers write! She kept writing stories at school and at university, but then she became a lawyer for 13 years (just like me – only I was silly enough to remain a lawyer for 17 years!) Then Michelle’s Dad died, and she realised that she desperately wanted to be a writer. She took a year off work, travelled, and wrote her first published book (for grownups). This was so successful that she gave up her job as a lawyer and has been a full-time writer ever since!
Why I love Michelle Paver’s books: I love Michelle Paver’s books – especially the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness – because she takes you back to an amazing and ancient time when humans were struggling to survive against nature, and when spirits and superstitions were very, very real to people. The books are not just exciting, with some really hair-raising adventures, but also truly fascinating because Michelle has done the most careful research about Stone Age times and is able to describe them very powerfully. I also love the way the hero, Torak, is an outcast but always manages to win against huge and dangerous challenges. And I love Wolf, his wolf cub, too!
When Michelle was ten, she was obsessed with wolves and desperately wanted to own one. But because she was living in Wimbledon, her parents gave her a spaniel instead!
Michelle was spotty and overweight when she was adolescent (between 9 and 12) and this made her very unhappy so she used to stay home a lot and read lots of books!
She loves travelling and has been to some very exotic places. One year, she was hiking alone in Sierra Nevada in the USA when she came across a mother bear with two cubs. She started singing to the bear, and it started walking straight towards her! Then she stopped singing, the bear stopped, and allowed her to walk straight past. It was a terrifying experience but she says she may never have written the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness if this hadn’t happened!
“There’s always a choice,’ said Torak, and walked backward off the cliff.”
“Fear is the loneliest feeling. You can be in a throng of people,but if you’re afraid, you’re on your own.”
“When people first asked me if I missed being a lawyer, I laughed so hard that I nearly fell off my chair!”
www.michellepaver.com is Michelle Paver’s official website and has a huge amount of information about her books, why she wrote them, what books she liked as a kid, and how she writes. It’s very inspiring for any kid who believes they can write and who wants to be a writer one day.