‘I have had many animal companions in my life and all of them have touched me greatly, but the one that stands out was my rescue Greyhound, Smoky.’
Home of the Wild
By Louise Greig, illustrated by Júlia Moscardó
Published by Floris Books
Where did the story of this book begin for you? Where did the idea come from?
I have three great loves; nature, animals and the beauty of Scotland. I think this book has lived inside me all my life. The fawn is probably a metaphor for everything I feel about animals; their need for our understanding and protection whether they are wild or tame. It all seemed to bubble up to the surface and once I had the first line it took wings.
Were there any special places that inspired the story?
Some years ago we had a cottage in Strathdon and my neighbours in a remote glen rescued an orphan fawn. They called him Scooter and although he ultimately lived out in the glen he used to come in now and again and lie by the kitchen range with their family dogs. I cannot say Home of the Wild is based on this but it is an enchanting memory I have and may have influenced the story on some level.
The book feels like a real celebration of the natural world. Is it important to you to feel connected to nature?
A deep connection to nature is at the absolute centre of my life. I could not function without it. There are places that mean so much to me where the rivers, the woods and the fields have become my friends. It is a fundamental need in my life. I am eternally grateful for the endless nourishment, comfort and inspiration nature has given me.
How important do you think it is for children to have access to nature?
I think it’s crucial for today’s children to connect with nature when so much of their lives today are screen based and screen stimulated and their freedoms are restricted. As humans we are of nature, our ancestors were hunter gatherers living to the pulse of nature. The seasons defined what we ate and when we slept. There is a song of nature deep within all of us. Thank goodness for the wonderful initiatives that exist to get children connecting with nature.
Do you have a favourite Scottish spot you’re looking forward to visiting post-lockdown?
I would love to visit the Outer Hebrides some day and see the wild Eriskay ponies.
I am also one for a bit of a pilgrimage so I would love to visit Sandaig Bay where Gavin Maxwell , the writer, lived with his otters. Ring of Brightwater is one of my favourite nature books.
Have you ever had an animal companion you’ve connected in the way that the wee boy and Alba the deer connect in the story?
I have had many animal companions in my life and all of them have touched me greatly, but the one that stands out was my rescue Greyhound, Smoky. I had him from 2007 to 2018 and from the first day we were inseparable friends. He was with me all the time. He had lived a rough life and was picked up stray in terrible condition before he came to me. The connection I had with him was profoundly special.
How did it feel to see the story realised visually with Julia’s illustrations for the first time?
It was incredible. I had been shown samples of Julia’s work which were beautiful but nothing could have prepared me for the finished artwork. She has captured the wild and wistful beauty of the Scottish landscape perfectly but most of all she has absolutely nailed the relationship between the boy and Alba. I am captivated, utterly, by what Julia has done.
Do you have a favourite illustrated spread from the book?
I am one for small telling details and there is a spread of the boy’s bedroom which is full of glorious clues which give the reader a real insight into the little boy’s interior world. He is a child of nature and the details are gorgeous. But the spread that carries the most emotional resonance for me is the very last one where there is now a deep understanding between the boy and Alba. Alba belongs to the wild but they are always together in spirit. The wind is blowing and will carry their bond forever. It actually brings a tear to my eye every time I look at it. That is the power of Julia’s work.
Home of the Wild by Louise Greig, illustrated by Júlia Moscardó is published by Floris Books, priced £12.99.
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