When I first heard about Where the World Turns Wild I knew. I knew from the title alone that this was something that would be very special indeed, and over time as more information slowly crept out into the world about the story, tantalising hints and ideas about the concepts, the characters and the world imagined within it became certain that this would be a book that would speak to my heart and soul.
You see, Where the World Turns Wild is not just one of my favourite books published in 2020, its one of my favourite books ever; which is why I am so delighted to be opening this blog tour and celebrating Nicola’s powerful, endearing and exhilarating tale of dystopian deprivation from the natural world prompting a thrilling escape into the sometimes savage reality of nature to find a new, if uncomfortable way of living and yet that struggle is remarkably full of heart and hope.
I am overjoyed to host a Guest post from Nicola Penfold, author of Where the World Turns Wild, on how this wonderful book came to be.
Inspiration for Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold
When my first child was a baby, one of my new mum friends lent me a book called Last Child in the Woods. The American author, Richard Louv, warned we are raising the first generation of children to grow up without meaningful contact with nature. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I determined to prove the book wrong. My husband and I took our children to local parks and nature reserves and woodlands, rain or shine. We didn’t mind the puddles or the mud, or the sticks and stones that got carried home. I thought our kids were probably ok, but I was still aware it wasn’t quite the same as when I had been a child. Was it because we were raising our kids in London, or had society and our landscape actually changed? A term the book had used hung in the air: Nature Deficit Disorder.
In January 2015, and this is quite well known now, two conservationists, Mark Cocker and Laurence Rose, wrote an open letter to Oxford University Press, protesting against the removal of some nature words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Acorn, bluebell, conker, fern, kingfisher and otter had all gone. In their place were attachment, broadband, cut-and-paste and celebrity, and other words, associated, the writers argued, “with the interior, solitary childhoods of today.” The letter was countersigned by many, including children’s writers Nicola Davies, Hilary McKay and Michael Morpurgo, and, crucially, Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane. Jackie Morris sprang into action. She approached Robert Macfarlane and the stunning The Lost Words was born.
A couple of years on, my children were growing up a bit. My youngest child, Beatrice, was in nursery a couple of days a week and I had time to do a bit of writing. I’d just read Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder, and had totally fallen under its spell. I wanted to write a landscape that was wild and powerful, but what kind of landscape could I write? What landscape mattered to me most?
It was February half term, 2017, and we were staying in the Lake District. I was intrigued by Ennerdale on the map – the most westerly and remote of the lakes, which I’d never visited. It’s the site of a rewilding project. The river, the Liza, has been left to find its own path and, after severe storms in 2005, conifer plantations have given way to more native trees species. There are hazel, aspen, oak, birch, Scots pine and juniper.
We didn’t make it to Ennerdale that week, that came later, but in my head it grew as this amazing destination – a lush, verdant, wild landscape. And this other world grew up too – a city world, without any nature at all. Nature Deficit Disorder – I could really show what it might be like.
Juniper and Bear came into my head at the same time – siblings, a big sister and a little brother, who struggled with city life, and had long held the dream of going back into the wild.
I don’t think cities are bad at all, I live in the UK’s largest, but I think wild places are essential for everyone. Town or country, we all need a wilderness to escape to.
I hope that Where the World Turns Wild offers its readers a way into the wild. When you’re stuck at home, tied to school or work routines, I hope it can be a taste of something greener and wilder, because there is so much evidence now that these landscapes are good for us. For our mental and our physical health, for our general happiness. Of course a book is never a substitute for the real thing, and I hope what my book really does, is encourage you out into the wild for real.
Thank you so much Nicola! Make sure you check out the other stops on the Blog Tour for further reviews and content on this beautiful book and if you head over to my twitter and see the pinned tweet YOU could win a special signed copy.
Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold is published by Stripes and available from 6th February 2020 💜