Who is Erin Hunter?
As you may have heard, Erin Hunter is actually five people! She is experienced children’s book writers Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui Sutherland, Gillian Philip, and Victoria Holmes.
I grew up on a farm and love all animals, including cats, but most especially dogs and horses. This comes in very handy when I need to send cats to a sticky end—I'd have a lot more trouble killing off a dog or a horse! I love being one of the Erins, and frequently dream of being a cat running through a forest when I am coming up with new story lines. Teaming up with Kate and Cherith on the Warriors books is an unconventional way of working, but we love writing the books together and it means we can produce them much faster than a single writer could. We each have our favorite characters and ideas for what could happen next, which means the stories have three times as much energy and passion!
I grew up on a farm, so of course I grew up with cats—working cats who kept down the mice in the house and barns, but were still friendly house cats who would play and curl up on a lap. My first cat after I married was a grey tabby called Tomlyn. We acquired him while we were out in Africa, teaching at the University of Sierra Leone. He was part Siamese, part African bush cat, and one of the friendliest cats I've ever known. When we came back to the UK we brought him with us; although he had to stay in quarantine for six months, he didn't forget us, and when we went to visit him he climbed all over us, shedding hair and purring like mad!
My next cat was called Schrodinger, after the Austrian physicist—my husband Peter was a scientist. He was ginger and white, and very playful. My two sons, Will and Adam, grew up with him, so he will always have a special place in their hearts. Peter died a few years ago, and Will and Adam are grown up now, so I share my home with two cats, Bramble and Sorrel. Sorrel is a tiny tortoiseshell and white cat, very dainty and demanding. Bramble is a dark tabby, quiet and dignified, a real gentleman. When I'm working, Bramble comes and sits on my lap. Sorrel comes and sits on the work. They have their own secret lives as Brambleclaw and Sorreltail, and I love writing Warriors so that I can imagine a cat's eye view of the world. There'll always be something mysterious about cats, and that's one of the reasons why I love them.
I have loved cats since I was a child. My dad gave me a kitten when I was six—a small, black, gentle cat. She would follow me around the house waiting for me to sit down so she could clamber onto my lap and purr. Since then I have never been without a cat. Even at University I found a cat to love—a black tom who lived in the halls of residence. He would slip into my room and sleep on my bed. And when I left University and set up my own home, the first thing I acquired was a cat. I have three cats now.
My eldest cat, Willow, is a grumpy granddad of a cat who loves to sleep in the warmest place he can find to ease his aching bones. Flower and Miu-Miu are much younger—a brother and sister we found in a rescue home. They love it when I write; as soon as I sit at my keyboard, Willow settles himself under the radiator in my study and Flower curls up on the chair behind me, while Miu-Miu lounges across my desk pressing the keys with his paws with every languorous stretch. They graciously share their home with my partner Geof and my seven-year-old son, Joshua, who love them almost as much as I do. Although Willow, Flower and Miu-Miu are soft kittypets, I know that at night, while I'm tucked up in bed, they go out exploring a world all their own.
Writing Warriors gives me the chance to imagine that world. I used to worry about my cats, out alone in the dark. But the ThunderClan cats have taught me that there is nothing for them to fear, only adventures to be enjoyed.
I’ll admit I’m a dog person, but I love cats, too…especially brave, wild warrior cats! I grew up mostly in South America—I was born in Venezuela and then live in Paraguay, Miami, and the Dominican Republic before we moved to New Jersey in high school. My dad was allergic to cats, but we had a lot of dogs, starting with a Dalmatian names Sasha and two miniature poodles named Sam (one after the other).
After college I got my own dog as soon as I could. She’s a Yorkie-poodle mix named Sunshine, and my husband and I think she’s a perfect little genius. (She even has her own blog!) She loves to chase tennis balls, run obstacle courses, and romp in the snow, but if she can’t be doing that, she likes to sleep on my lap while I’m writing (or lick my fingers so I can’t write). I started off as the editor for Warriors, and then when I left editing to become a full-time writer, Vicky asked me to join the team as the fourth Erin Hunter. Of course I said yes! How lucky am I? It’s so much fun to work on these stories from the writing side, trying to imagine myself hunting as one of the bears, or running through the forest, or puzzling over mysterious Twolegs behavior. Plus I LOVE meeting Warriors and Seekers fans (you’re all too smart!), and it’s a great challenge to write something different from my other books. I hope you’ll visit my website at www.tuibooks.com where I’m always happy to answer questions!
I was born and raised a city girl, in Glasgow and Aberdeen, but when I fell in love with a country boy I came to live in the Highlands of Scotland—after a twelve-year stint in Barbados—and I adore it here. I always loved animals and in the countryside I’ve managed to accumulate an awful lot of them. Right now we have three gorgeous dogs. Cluny, the oldest, is a big, beautiful, soft-hearted yellow Labrador. Milo, who belongs to my daughter Lucy, is an excitable red-and-white Papillon who loves cuddles and the lady Jack Russells down the road—with whom he’s had eleven puppies! One of them is my son Jamie’s adorable and naughty Otto, who looks like a chocolate Jack Russell but with enormous ears and a curly tail.
This motley lot is a great inspiration when I’m writing about Lucky’s pack in Survivors! My gorgeous cats are called Pebble and Dash, but they’re known as the Ghost and the Darkness because they’re such deadly hunters. Pebble has a split personality though—she’s incredibly cuddly and friendly in the house and loves to sleep in my bed (or on the back of my neck while I’m working). Dash is much wilder and warier—in fact she’s at least half Scottish Wildcat, and she’s huge. And then there’s Buffy our ferocious hamster, the chickens Mapp and Lucia... and an awful lot of nervous fish! Do come and visit me at my website www.gillianphilip.com—I absolutely love meeting readers and chatting about my books!