Piers Torday’s Last Wild trilogy is a fantastic series of books which explore themes of eco-consciousness and looking after the world. Torday is a writer that creates magic in his books; these allow the reader to not only explore the world he has created but also their own emotions invoked by the topics included within the stories.
The Wild Before is a prequel to this trilogy, following Little-Hare as they embark on a quest. After discovering a silver-coloured calf, and Little-Hare realises he must protect the calf at all costs to stop a great Terribleness appearing in the world. However, Little-Hare realises he must work with every other creature in order to keep this from happening; the animal world must work together to save the calf, and their world.
I am thrilled to celebrate the publication of ‘The Wild Before’ to have a Q&A with Piers Torday, discussing why he wrote a prequel, as well as some insight into the characters and theme within the book.
What made you write a prequel for the series?
I had sworn never to return to the world of the Last Wild, even though readers often asked if there would be a fourth book in the series, continuing Kester, Aida and Polly’s adventures. I felt the story in my heart was told, and that if readers wanted to imagine further storylines in their minds, they were free too. And prequels and sequels are a risky business, with a huge risk of dissatisfaction because they are either too similar or not different enough to the books the readers liked in the first place. But the key difference was the subject. When Greta Thunberg stood up at the UN and told the world’s leaders that the planet was on fire, I realised I had to go back. Climate change is the greatest existential threat we have ever faced, and we need more stories about it than ever. I had the world, I needed a new narrative. One of hope.
Why did you choose a hare as the main character?
I wanted the prequel to be told from the point of view of an animal; I’m really interested in trying to distance the human experience when it comes to writing about climate change – even if my animals are anthropomorphic, the book is told from an animal point of view and eyeliner. And I wanted a strong link to the first three books. Little-Hare is actually a key character in the Wild books, I wonder if readers can spot him!
Children are a lot more conscious of the environment around them than ever before. Why do you think this is?
For two reasons. One is that – finally – the whole world really has woken up. Even climate change denying politicians across the world are beginning to change their tune. So that means companies, schools, governments, cultural organisations are all beginning to think about their actions and promote more sustainable ways of living. It is everywhere. And secondly, more alarmingly, I think children can see. They hear the speeches from Greta. They feel the other worldly heat. They see the devastation climate change can have on the news. They are a fully eco-aware generation.
How do you feel books can impact on the reader in relation to becoming more eco-conscious?
Books are not new laws or policies, and fiction books are not really calls to action, but they can change the conversation. If one story can help change the way one person thinks about the natural world, and encourage them to start loving and respecting our environment as they might their home or their own family, then progress has been made. I also passionately believe in writing stories that show children that they are never, ever, too small to be heard or make a difference.
What did you most enjoy about writing a prequel?
I really enjoyed returning to a world of talking animals that is very close to my heart -I have been living with some of these characters in my head for nearly twenty years now.The joy of a prequel is in coming at that world from a different angle, trying to make it accessible for new readers, but full of little hidden references for old ones.
What is the most important take-away from The Wild Before?
That it is not too late to stop climate change, but that we must act now. That small actions count, but unless we all act together, it won’t be enough. And that whatever happens, like Little Hare, we must never ever stop searching for the flower of hope to guide us through.
Thank you so much Piers for taking the time to answer my questions; this is a fantastic book which I would recommend everyone to read. And, if you haven’t read the Last Wild trilogy, this is the perfect gateway to reading that, too!
Like the sound of this book? Buy it here.
📚Book gifted by publisher