On the characters
Question: I’d really like to know the first character you made in [the Warriors] series! Answer: VickyHolmes: Firestar (well, Rusty) was the first character to be created for Warriors because he inspired the whole story.
Question: How big is the Thunderclan camp? I mean, is it as big as half a football field, or just an apartment backyard, or WHAT!? Answer: VickyHolmes: Good question! It’s about ten acres, so ten football fields in a rough square.
Question: 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. Answer: VickyHolmes: 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.
Question: 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? Answer: VickyHolmes: 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. Outcome: True, they appear in Ravenpaw's Path but do not appear after.
Question: 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? Answer: VickyHolmes: 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.
Question: 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. Answer: VickyHolmes: 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.
Question: The rule for medicine cats to not take on a mate, does that go for male medicine cats too? They wouldn't exactly be stuck in the nursery nursing their kits, they could still work. But are they still required not to take on a mate? Answer: VickyHolmes: A male medicine cat could still work, but just because he can’t give birth to kits wouldn’t make him any less distracted! He would still be focused on the raising of his own kits, and by his mate’s needs. Plus, a medicine cat must treat all the cats in his Clan fairly; could you imagine how difficult it would be for a medicine cat to treat his own sons and daughters after a battle – and maybe have to make them wait for treatment after other more seriously-injured warriors?
Question: 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? Answer: VickyHolmes: 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 [Secrets of the Clans].
Question: Hey Erins, do you have any guide lines or rules when naming warrior cats?
When I first started reading the series, I heard something about how you were breaking your rules for creating warrior names. Are there any or is that just a fan based thing?
Answer: VickyHolmes: Well, firstly we can only create names from words that cats know about – so you’re unlikely to find a leader with a name like Ferraristar! A warrior’s name comes in two parts, either or both of which can reflect something about the cat’s appearance, personality or habits, for example, ‘fur, ‘claw’, ‘heart’ or ‘stripe’, or something from the natural world like ‘fire’, ‘bramble’ or ‘cloud’. You can also have colours or something descriptive, such as ‘tall’, ‘red’ or ‘swift’. So Hawkclaw is a perfect example! These are the basic rules which we have followed throughout Warriors, although you might be interested to know that in the very first book, Tigerclaw was originally called “Hammerclaw” until someone pointed out that cats wouldn’t know what a hammer was!
Question: Are greencough and whitecough actual sicknesses only with different names? If so, what are they? Answer: VickyHolmes: They certainly are real, Basilstar, although we haven’t based them on a specific illness like pneumonia. Whitecough is a chest infection (coughing up clear fluids, feeling tired but still able to eat and drink), and greencough is a severe chest infection (coughing up green fluid--yuck!-- and feeling too ill to move, let alone eat or drink). This is why so many cats who catch whitecough end up developing greencough if it goes untreated.
Question: Okay. Starclan gives clan leaders their name and nine lives. They lose their lives to sickness and wounds, but what about age? Lets say a leader gets really old, do they die over and over again? Answer: VickyHolmes: In the natural world, animals rarely get to die of old age – they are more likely to die sooner than their domestic counterparts due to the harsh life they lead, without medication or a reliable source of food. Even very old warriors usually die because of something else, such as a disease or hunger or extreme cold. Leaders are even more likely to lose lives because they take part in most battles, and would go without food or medical treatment for the sake of a Clanmate in greater need. So it would be unusual for a leader to make it to a very great age with more than one life remaining. If they became very weak, say from being unable to eat or because their kidneys were failing, I think they could return once, but after that more than one thing inside them would fail and they would lose successive lives very quickly.
Question: What happens if a leader dies of natural causes on their first life? Do leaders lose all their lives if they die of natural causes on their first life? I REALLY want to know! Answer: VickyHolmes: In the natural world, animals rarely get to die of old age – they are more likely to die sooner than their domestic counterparts due to the harsh life they lead, without medication or a reliable source of food. Even very old warriors usually die because of something else, such as a disease or hunger or extreme cold. Leaders are even more likely to lose lives because they take part in most battles, and would go without food or medical treatment for the sake of a Clanmate in greater need. So it would be unusual for a leader to make it to a very great age with more than one life remaining. If they became very weak, say from being unable to eat or because their kidneys were failing, I think they could return once, but after that more than one thing inside them would fail and they would lose successive lives very quickly.
Question: Where is Warriors set? Answer: VickyHolmes: 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!
Question: 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! Answer: VickyHolmes: 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. Outcome: True, Mapleshade appears.
Question: Are you going to do a Seekers Warriors Crossover? Answer: VickyHolmes: Good question, WaterClaw, but the answer is no, I’m afraid. For a start, the cats would just be snacks to the bears! Also, animal species can’t talk to each other in either of the series (with the exception of a certain multi-lingual badger!), so it would be impossible to make the characters interact with each other. In addition, we have set the bears’ stories in the real world, with actual place names and a route charted on a proper map. The cats live somewhere that exists only in our imagination; it’s not a fantasy land like Narnia or Middle-Earth, but it has a mixture of British and North American wildlife and can’t be placed exactly anywhere in the world. So the bears would never be able to find it!
Question: I heard this question during a book signing and im curious. Will there be a Albino cat sometime in the series? I think it would be really cool if there was. It would make the book really interesting. Answer: VickyHolmes: We are definitely considering an Albino cat, but we’re waiting for the right story to come along so that its unusual coloring can play a central role.
Question: 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? Answer: VickyHolmes: 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!
Question: How Long does it take to write one book, get it edited, and finally on shelves? Answer: VickyHolmes: 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!
Question: How long does it normally take to write a book? Answer: VickyHolmes: It takes about two months to write the storyline for a new book, which includes details of what happens in every single scene, plus some suggestions for dialogue and character development. This is Vicky’s part! The final storyline usually takes up half the length of the entire book. Then the storyline goes to Kate, Cherith or Tui, who have about three months to write the first draft. Then the manuscript comes back to Vicky who spends a week or so carefully going through it, checking it all sounds like “Erin” and that the story works as she imagined. Sometimes she asks whoever wrote it to do a bit more work on it, but if all the words seem to be in the right place, she sends it to the editor at HarperCollins: Erica for Warriors, or Sarah for Seekers. Erica and Sarah go through the manuscript and ask for changes or additions to be made to make the book as perfect as it can be; sometimes Vicky does these changes on her own, sometimes she asks Kate, Cherith or Tui (whoever wrote the first draft) to produce a second draft. Then it goes back to the publisher for the final time, ready to be turned into a book, yay! So the entire process takes about six months in total, although we are always working on two or three books at once so we can produce more than two books a year.
Question: What books and authors inspired each of you to write? What were your favorite books when you were younger? (10-14?) Answer: VickyHolmes: 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. KateCary: Ooh hard, Charlotte's Web, The Tree that Sat Down, The Kingdom of Carbonel, Emily of New Moon (LM Montgomery). CherithBaldry: 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. TuiSutherland: ACK, I had so MANY favorite books as a child! Like I still do...it'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
Question: I've been wondering... how did the three of you meet? Answer: VickyHolmes: This is Vicky here, so I’ll answer from my viewpoint. Before I started on Warriors, I worked as an editor of children’s books (I still do, in fact, in between being one of the Erins). Kate and Cherith were established children’s authors who were interested in working with me on a project. Kate started first on Warriors; for Book Three I realized that we needed another writer on the team in order to deliver the books fast enough, so I invited Cherith to join because I knew she loved cats, and even more importantly, would be able to write in a way that sounded like the combination of Kate’s and my style. Meanwhile, Tui Sutherland, the fourth Erin who wrote Secrets of the Clans and some of the Seekers books, was the editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books who worked on the finished Warriors manuscripts. After the early series, Tui left to write her own books, and I quickly asked her if she could join the Erin team as well! So the short answer is, I knew each of the other Erins through work, and now consider them to be my friends. The other Erins have never met (partly because they live far away from each other) but we all correspond by email.
Tips & advice
Question: 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. Answer: VickyHolmes: 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!
References and citations
|Erin Hunter Chats and Forums|
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|Forums||Fall 2010 • Summer 2011|