Susan Brocker has written over 50 fiction and non-fiction books for older children and teens, which have been published worldwide. She has a history degree and a love of social history that is reflected in her books. Susan also has a close affinity with animals. She lives with her husband and many pets in a lovely old villa on a small farm. Susan talks to NZ Booklovers.
Tell us a little about Ice.
Ice is an action -packed mystery-adventure set in the wilds of southern New Zealand. When a troubled teenage boy named Zac and his rescue dog discover a ghastly secret buried beneath the mountains, they must face their darkest fears to uncover the terrifying truth.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always loved animals, so they often feature in my books. I also have a deep interest in caring for the world’s wildlife. While visiting southern Africa, I learnt about the challenges facing the wildlife there and this served as the inspiration for Ice. But I don’t won’t to write too much about this as I hope you’ll read my story and discover this for yourself!
My own special dog, Loki, also inspired me with ideas for the book. Like Ice, he’s a beautiful white shepherd, though he doesn’t have her piercing blue eyes. He does, however, have her gift for tracking and searching, and he has taken me on many journeys. I write about this in my story, too, which I hope you enjoy.
What research was involved?
I spoke to wildlife rangers when we travelled through the parks of southern Africa. I also read many books about illegal wildlife poaching, such as Rachel Love Nuwer’s, Poached: inside the dark world of wildlife trafficking, and Ronald Orenstein’s Ivory, Horn and Blood: Behind the Elephant and Rhinoceros Poaching Crisis. I researched the internet and learnt a lot about the problems facing wildlife on sites such as https://www.conservationdogs.com/ and the Endangered Wildlife Trust https://www.ewt.org.za/
What was your process or routine while writing this book?
When I’m writing, I try to stay disciplined and write for the day. I get up at seven and start work in my study by nine, with my dogs beside me. Sometimes I can write solidly for six hours, other days I waffle along and don’t get far. The important thing is to try and stay focussed. Ideas don’t just magically appear; you must dig for them.
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
What an interesting question! The only song that leaps to mind is “Born Free,” the sound track from the film starring Joy and George Adamson, who raised Elsa the lioness, an orphaned lion cub, and returned her to the wild.
What did you enjoy the most about writing this book for children?
I love to think that I might introduce children to some ideas they hadn’t thought or knew about, such as poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. But mostly, I just love inspiring kids about the bond that can exist between people and animals, such as between Zac and Ice. This bond helped me through my own younger years.
What did you do to celebrate finishing Ice?
My hubby, Lionel, and our shepherd dogs, Loki and Thor, escaped to the beach for a swim!
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
What’s next on the agenda for you?
I’m working on another middle grade novel called A Forever Home about a homeless teenage girl and the puppies she saves from a backyard breeder.
Scholastic New Zealand