National Storytelling Week – An Interview with Hannah Gold
To mark National Storytelling Week we decided to speak to fantastic authors and find out about their own storytelling journeys.
Hannah Gold is the author of The Last Bear and the eagerly anticipated The Lost Whale. The Last Bear is a heartwarming and adventure-filled story which carries an important message about climate change and the environment.
It is a beautifully crafted tale which will stay with you long after reading.
What are your earliest memories of having stories told to you and what stories did you enjoy?
My earliest and best memory of this is from primary school – where we had a weekly reading session. All of us would sit in this cosy room whilst the teacher read.
I remember being spellbound – it was definitely my favourite part of the week! The kind of stories I enjoyed best – and still enjoy best – are those which feature animals, animal/child friendships, adventures into the wild and anything which tugs at the heartstrings.
What made you want to become a storyteller?
I actually can’t remember wanting to do anything else apart from a brief urge to become a vet but the very idea of having to put animals down just sent me into floods of tears!
For me, being such a bookworm when I was younger, it was a natural extension to then want to somehow do this as a living. It took a while to make that dream come true, but then that’s often the case with things you really, really want! But to be able to say I am now a children’s author is a complete and utter dream come true.
Where do your ideas come from and how do you go about developing them?
The idea for THE LAST BEAR came about because I had written a couple of older fiction books which hadn’t got anywhere and so I decided to write a children’s book about all the things I loved most in the world.
It sounds obvious but actually starting with what YOU are most passionate about is at the heart of almost every story. Once I had the idea of the central friendship between a girl and a polar bear, I then researched settings and that’s when I found out about the real life Bear Island.
From that point on, it was like a jigsaw puzzle all fitting together beautifully. The fact that polar bears hadn’t been seen on the island, due to the melting ice caps, then led to giving the book this urgent, ecological undertone. And so really, all you need is one tiny seed of an idea and then just let it blossom.
What do you hope that people will take from your stories?
I had a girl read THE LAST BEAR the other day and she said it made her heart feel full. I think that’s the best compliment ever! To know that my writing has touched someone and given them all the fuzzy, warm-hearted feelings is like gold to me.
On a wider, societal level, I really do hope the book inspires everyone (child and grown-up!) to recognise that many parts of the world are in serious peril and that you are never too young or too small to make a difference.
I don’t want my book just to be read. I want it to inspire action so we really can make the world better and create a greener, more sustainable tomorrow.
What can you tell us about your next book, The Lost Whale?
Well, it’s basically my love letter to the ocean and is inspired by a whale watching trip I took in 2019, just before the pandemic. It’s the story of 11-year Rio who is sent to California against his will to live with his grandmother.
When he’s there, he joins a whale watching trip where he encounters the most incredible gentle giant of the sea. But when the whale goes missing, Rio must do everything in his power to save her . . . like THE LAST BEAR, it fuses heart-warming adventure with ecological awareness and I hope people love will love it just as much! It’s also illustrated by award winning, Levi Pinfold, so it is guaranteed to look AMAZING!!!!