In 1877, Anna Sewell wrote a book about a horse, but the story had an unusual twist: It was from the horse’s point of view. “Black Beauty” was revolutionary at the time — people weren’t used to thinking about what animals felt.
Today’s readers can enter the world of warrior cats or a gorilla who lives in a shopping mall. They try to defeat the bad guys, solve the mystery or survive the impossible journey. They remind us of our pets or remind us that they are wild animals.
So as KidsPost sets off on eight weeks of dogs, cats, frogs and other creatures, we asked Gillian Philip about writing animal stories. Philip is the author of “Survivors,” the newest series from the Erin Hunter team that wrote “Warriors” and “Seekers.” She lives in Scotland with her husband, twin 11-year-old boys and lots of pets, including dogs Cluny, Milo and Otto, cats and chickens.
What is your favorite kind of animal?
Gillian Philip: It’s quite hard. I’d say equally cats, dogs and horses. . . . But I also love my chickens.
Did you have favorite animal books when you were a child?
I loved “Watership Down.” . . . “The Silver Brumby” by Elyne Mitchell. It’s about wild Australian horses. You don’t see that one anymore. I loved reading books about cats. . . . There’s a book called “The Abandoned.” I remember crying buckets over that one.
Why do animals make good stories?
Think about how many people love animals. Cats, dogs, they’re the kind of animals we see all the time. But we don’t really know what they’d be like without us. . . . What kind of lives they would lead.
You can do all the romance and war and friendship and loyalty. You can do all that human stuff through animals.
Is it strange to write dog conversations?
It’s strange, but it’s fun. You know so many things are different. . . . They’ve got a physical reaction to everything. They just see things differently. At a lower level. . . . Having my own dogs around, and just seeing them interact is interesting. The tiniest one is Otto. He’s now the alpha dog, and he’s the smallest one.
Want to write about other animals?
I’ve enjoyed this so much that, yes, I think I would like to try another animal. I’ve wanted to try one about horses.