Erin Hunter Answers Your Questions - Fall 2010

This question has got me thinking, so do you think that after you’re done with the Warriors series from Thunderclan's point of view, will you have a series from another clan's perspective?

Hi Brightcloud! I’m not sure I’d do a complete series from a different Clan’s perspective—though never say never!—but the Super Editions have given us a chance to explore other viewpoints (like SkyClan in FIRESTAR’S QUEST and SKYCLAN’S DESTINY, and RiverClan will be at the center of next year’s Super Edition, CROOKEDSTAR’S PROMISE). We also see events from other Clans’ perspective in the Special Editions, which has been one of the most fun elements of these short stories. It’s great to know when ThunderClan cats are being VERY annoying to their neighbors!

I was wondering if you could share some writing tips. Things like character structure, an interesting story line, and anything else you think is important to a story. There's a lot of writers on the site (including me!) and I'm sure they'd love advice from you also.

Wow, Ashfurfan, I don’t think have enough room to list everything that is important to a story! My top tip is always to read, read, read and read some more. Not just fiction, but every sort of writing from poetry to non-fiction books and newspapers. This is the best way to learn about different writing styles, and also to figure out what sort of writing will suit you best. I think the key to a successful story is achieving a balance between believable characters, an exciting story, and a detailed location. One rule I set for myself is that the story must move along on every single page that I type, so I never spend too much time on the characters chatting or describing one particular scene. If you can keep your readers turning the pages to find out what happens next, you’ve written a great book!

How Long does it take to write one book, get it edited, and finally on shelves?

I spend two to three months developing the storyline—sometimes longer than that, sometimes shorter, depending on how inspired I’m feeling!—which winds up being about a third or a quarter of the length of the final manuscript. Then Kate, Cherith, or Tui takes two to three months to write the book in full, so that’s six months. I spend two weeks going through the script making sure it all sounds “Erin,” then I send it to the editor at HarperCollins in New York. The Warriors editor is Erica, and the Seekers editor is Sarah. They are both lovely! Smiler After a few weeks, Erica or Sarah send me a list of changes to improve the script. Sometimes I make these changes myself, sometimes I ask Kate or Cherith or Tui (whoever wrote the first draft) to take care of them. So we’re up to seven and a half months. Then the script has to be edited once more by Erica or Sarah, then it’s laid out in the format for a book and proof-read, which is the final check for spelling mistakes and major errors like, er, characters switching gender. From then it can still be six months to a year for the book to come out on shelves, while final corrections are made, the cover is finalized, the books are printed, and so on. Overall, the process can take up to two years from my first ideas to the book coming out—which is why I sometimes get confused on tours because we’re often talking about a book that I worked on ages ago!

How big is the Thunderclan camp? I mean, is it as big as half a football field, or just an apartment backyard, or WHAT!?

Good question! It’s about ten acres, so ten football fields in a rough square.

Where is Warriors set?

The first series was definitely set in England in my imagination. In fact I based the territories very loosely on a place on the south coast, in the county of Hampshire, called the New Forest. This is a very beautiful area of ancient woodland, exposed moorland, farms, and pretty villages. It also has a massive road running through it, which gave me the inspiration for the Thunderpath! But please don’t visit the New Forest expecting to find the territories laid out exactly as they are in the maps. I made up my own place names and moved streams and trees around to suit the story. And there is no such thing as Fourtrees, I’m afraid. In the second series, I made up everything in order to give the cats the most exciting terrain to journey through. There are no mountains near the New Forest! I also introduced the first example of American wildlife, in Sharptooth the mountain lion. So it’s not exactly England anymore!

I heard you guys like Brian Jacques--and I absolutely LOVE his works--and I was wondering, did Scourge's name have anything to do with Cluney the Scourge?
–Bubbleheart Of ThunderClan

I (Vicky) haven’t actually read any of the Redwall books, although I hold them in the highest regard because without them, there wouldn’t be an audience for Warriors! So no, Scourge’s name had nothing to do with Cluney the Scourge.

This may be an unusual question, but what caused Tigerstar’s ambition? What caused him to take such a treacherous path when born in such a nice environment? Could you possibly explain this in a book where we follow in his pawsteps? As much as he angers me, I would like to explore his mind set.

We learn a lot about Tigerstar in BLUESTAR’S PROPHECY, when we see him as a young cat, the sole survivor of his littermates, and very much the runt of his litter so he’s rather spoiled by the other queens in the nursery. He was always a brave, loyal cat who was determined to be the very best warrior. If he had been mentored by someone like Sunstar, maybe he would have turned out very differently. But he was apprenticed to Thistleclaw, who had his own dark agenda (which we’ll find out in CROOKEDSTAR’S PROMISE!), and instead of encouraging compassion and gentleness, Thistleclaw made it seem as if nothing mattered more than ruthless courage and winning battles. So it was a combination of Tigerstar’s natural bravery and dedication to being a great warrior, and his rather dark-hearted mentor, that made him the cat he is.

Will you ever let Bloodclan show up again? I mean, it was a perfect group of villains! Wouldn't it be cool to have Bloodclan show up with a more evil leader than Scourge?

Ah, I love how popular BloodClan is! I’m afraid they are no more, although we see their remnants in the Ravenpaw manga trilogy. Because they weren’t an organized Clan, united by common aims and a code of honor, without their dynamic leader Scourge they scattered to the four winds. Two cats try to resurrect the Clan but they don’t have a code of honor either so the cats are easily defeated once again.

What books and authors inspired each of you to write? What were your favorite books when you were younger? (10-14?)

VICKY: I read anything and everything, and loved it all, from Enid Blyton to James Herriot to Agatha Christie. My favorite books of all were TALES OF THE PUNJAB, a collection of traditional Indian stories edited by Flora Annie Steel, which taught me about using color and melodrama to bring words to life, and HIGHLAND BUMBLE by Magdalen Eldon, a picture book about a dog called Bumble Holmes who received a dragon’s egg by mail and raised it with the help of lots of friendly mice.


CHERITH: When I was a small child, my favorite books were Lewis Carroll's ALICE books, and THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. When I got a bit older, it was Roger Lancelyn Green's KING ARTHUR AND THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE.

TUI: ACK, I had so MANY favorite books as a child! Like I still's hard to pick only one! I adored ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card when I first read it (and every time since!). A WRINKLE IN TIME, by Madeleine L'Engle, of course. Smiler And THE WITCHES and MATILDA by Roald Dahl—LOVED them! Nowadays my favorite kids' books (apart from Warriors!) are probably THE GOLDEN COMPASS by Philip Pullman (well, the whole trilogy), WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech, and THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. Just to name a few. Smiler

I was wondering if the herbs that the medicine cats use in your books are used as the same way as they would have been in real life.

Hello Kallik1! Technically you must be Kallik2, unless you are the original Kallik who has come out of the books and learned to type. Smiler We take all of the herbs from a book called CULPEPER’S HERBAL, which was written in the 1600s by a physician called Nicholas Culpeper. He lived in London and studied all of the native plants in order to work out how they could be used as medicine. He was frequently right—for example, comfrey is great for mending broken bones, and marigold petals do have antiseptic properties—BUT much of what he wrote has been proved wrong and even dangerous. So please, please, please DO NOT use any of these herbs to treat your own pets! A veterinarian is always a much better option.

Could you tell us readers a little bit about the 2nd Seekers series? Like if the old characters will be there, the title, and stuff. I heard there will be murder (Yay!). Please answer!

I think I can reveal a few tidbits! The new series will be called RETURN TO THE WILD and yes, the original characters will still be around. Although maybe not all of them will make the whole journey back to their homes… There will be plenty of moments of violence as the bears struggle to survive, as well as lots of new characters, and one or two things to shock you!

I’d really like to know the first character you made in both series!

Great question, Oasisstream! Firestar (well, Rusty) was the first character to be created for Warriors because he inspired the whole story. And Kallik was the first character I thought of for Seekers, because initially I wanted to focus just on polar bears. As soon as I was asked to include other bears, I came up with Ujurak.

I've noticed that all of the villains in the series have been toms. Is there any reason to this, or is it just because toms make better villains? I think a she-cat villain would be fun to see!

I promise it was never my intention to make all the villains male! There is a female super-villain in the latest book, NIGHT WHISPERS, and she plays a more central role in CROOKEDSTAR’S PROMISE.

What is the medicine cat code, it's referenced it a few of the books as the code medicine cats live by. but what are the rules in it?

These rules are not as well-known as the rules of the warrior code because those medicine cats can be a secretive bunch! But the most important, widely-known rules are that medicine cats must help injured or sick cats regardless of what Clan they belong to, and must never choose a mate or have kits because the whole Clan must be their family, with no cat more precious than another. Unfortunately the medicine cats, especially in ThunderClan, aren’t very good at obeying this last part of the code… More about the rules of the medicine cat code can be found in WARRIORS FIELD GUIDE: SECRETS OF THE CLANS.
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