Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Dancing Bears and the Born Free Foundation

My story in Gentle Footprints is called Meena and is about a dancing bear.

Despite the cheery sounding name, dancing bears are abused animals. They are often taken from their mother at a very young age and reared by their captors with one aim; to make them money.

One of the most common bears to be captured for this purpose across Asia is the sloth bear. The sloth bear can measure up to 1.9 metres and weigh up to 140g. Despite their weight and height they have a teddy bear look due to their long, shaggy coat and white U shaped marking on its chest. Sloth bears are nocturnal by nature.

It is particularly heartbreaking when the mothers and cubs are seperated as there is a strong bond between them, with sloth bears being the only bear to carry its cubs on its back. The cubs stay with their mother for up to three years.

The sloth bear is classed as a vulnerable species and there is thought to be less than 10,000 left.
Although dancing bears have been banned in India for over 40 years it is thought that there are still around 600 on the streets.

Dancing bears are reared and 'tamed' with a cruel hand and their treatment includes having holes burnt through their noses through which a rope can be threaded, regular beatings, removal of their teeth and claws and being forced to stand on hotplates to make them dance.

International Animal Rescue, supported by the Born Free Foundation, are working to rescue dancing bears and take them to their bear sanctury in Bannerghatta. Here a clinic is also being built where vets can help the rescued bears.

Still to come this week I will share some bear facts with you but tomorrow I will be telling you a bit more about my story Meena.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Week of the Bear - The Bear in Pop Culture

When I first heard that my story Meena had been accepted to be in 'Gentle Footprints' it was about 1am and everyone in my house was asleep. With no-one to celebrate with I had to content myself with emailing everyone instead. My email went something along the lines of...

“Guess what?!? My story got into the animal anthology!!! You know- that one I reeeeally wanted to get in. The Born Free one. The one I was telling you about. You know! Virginia McKenna ... Richard Adams. Watership down. Remember?”

Needless to say I was excited and am almost as excited to be writing my Week of the Bear.

This week I will be writing some facts about bears, a bit about dancing bears (like the Meena of my story), a bit about the inspiration for my story, the work of the Born Free foundation to help dancing bears and a few other beary bits.

I thought that I would start with a lighter entry before we got to the gritty stuff, however, and write about the bear in literature and pop culture.

The bear has been much loved by adults and children throughout history. From the invention of teddy bears in the early 1900s (almost simultaneously in America and Germany) to the many bears of Disney, bears have found their way into the hearts of many a child.

One of the best selling franchises, especially in baby products, is Winnie the Pooh. If you ever have a baby and decide not to find out its gender before birth you can guarantee at least five Pooh Bear baby items will be gifted to you to celebrate the birth.

Along with Pooh the bear has popped up throughout the cartoon world in the form of Rupert, Baloo, Yogi, Barney, Brother Bear, Boog, the Gummi Bears, Berenstein Bears, Hillbilly Bears and Superted to name just a few.

The bear holds a particular appeal for children, and perhaps even more for those buying for children, because of its great strength and power and, in juxtaposition, its cuddly cute appeal. Unfortunately these are also the traits which create such an appeal in hunting, killing or ‘taming’ real bears from the wild, but that is something we will come back to later in the week.

The image of the bear has been used in products from breakfast cereal to honey and as a mascot for many teams and organisations including Smokey the Bear, the mascot for the U.S. Forrest Service. Even the bears of the colder regions get a look in. Who could forget that Coca Cola advertisement that often graces our screens at Christmas with the family of polar bears?

For many of you reading this, however, your true passion will lie in literature and here we also find some great stories featuring bears.

I have already mentioned Winnie the Pooh (though with the vast amount of merchandising it is easy to forget that Pooh Bear originally erupted from the pages of a book). And there are many other bears that have clawed their way from paper to screen. Among them are Paddington, Baloo and Rupert.

Some others are best known from the book they appeared in. Most are from children’s books however there are fleeting glimpses in adult literature too.

• Iorek Byrnison is an armoured polar bear in Phillip Pullman’s 'His Dark Materials' trilogy
• Goldilocks and the Three Bears (it features three of them!)
• Stephen King’s Shardik is a cyborg bear in his 'Wizard and Glass' trilogy and was named after a bear of the same name created by an author close to our hearts........
• Richard Adams who’s second novel 'Shardik' was about a giant bear (a bear who it would be ill advised to cuddle)
• Maurice Sendak’s 'Little Bear'
• The Bear and the Two Travellers (Aesop’s Fables)
• The classic stage direction from Shakespeare’s play 'The Winter’s Tale', “Exit pursued by a bear”

So it seems that a bear finds its way to us through our books, televisions, food, safety warnings and even on the Pooh Bear nappy covered bottoms of our babies, but there is a whole lot more to the bear than a cute, lovable friend.

Check back later in the week for some more serious facts about the bear, beginning tomorrow with the plight of the dancing bear and the work that the Born Free Foundation do to help them.

I leave you now with a picture of an obscenely expensive bear which was made for the Steiff 125th anniversary celebration and set buyers back over £54,000 pounds per bear.


Well as we move on and are working on the edits of Gentle Footprints it is all coming together. I should be able to show the cover soon and the artists are now working on simple line drawings of the animals to be printed at the start of each story.

Dulcie's poignant story about a dancing bear and the plight of the poor aninal will inspire the Week of the Bear. We have a story that contrasts with this about a wild bear by Dave and we hope to return to bears later on. We also have Diane's lovely story about the Moon Bear. Each of these stories is very different which us why we chose them. So we have that to look forward to as well.

We hope you're all learn something about our authors, their stories and their chosen animals and this will whet your appetite for the book, I also hope our authors will treat you to short extracts of their stories.


Friday, 29 January 2010

Born Free and Wolves

Pictured left: Ethiopian Wolf

To complete my little walk through the lives of wolves I will end with something that is really what the book Gentle Footprints is all about- raising both an awareness and an appreciation of the special animals included. Above all we share our world with these animals and but have we really made this a nice place for them? I think if we're honest we all know the real answer to that.

Born Free used to be called Zoo Check and they are strongly opposed to animals in captivity. For this reason Gentle Footprints will not be sold at zoos or wildlife parks. Born Free have sent me some information about places we will be approaching that feel the same about the animals and who we hope will spread the word about this book!

While we might comfort ourselves that zoos state they are doing a service for the animals and are involved in protection, in almost all cases this is not what it seems with average money given to conservation by zoos is less than 5 % and less than 25% of animals in zoos are on the threatened lists. The truth is that these places make money out of exhibiting animals that should be free.

So our job is to make their habitat accessible and safe so these animals can live and be who they are supposed to be. Wildlife parks are really nothing more than more spacious zoos. There are however sanctuaries that are doing good but if you're not sure you should ask yourself if the animals are still used as exhibits and expected to perform- are they really for the good of the animal? That said there are some great places that are there for the animal- check with Born Free for advice.

Click here for more information about Born Free's ZOO CHECK

"We can learn as much about lions by studying them in their captivity as we can about men by studying them in their prison cells,"

Virginia McKenna
Born Free Founder & Trustee

Gentle Footprints has some very important messages through beautifully crafted fiction about REAL ANIMALS.

So what about Born Free and Wolves... Please click on the photo to follow the link to the Born Free website. Born Free are doing a lot of work with the Ethiopean wolves pictured.

With less than 500 individuals remaining, the Ethiopian wolf could be the next of the Earth’s large mammals to become extinct. The Ethiopian wolf is threatened by loss of habitat, hybridization with domestic dogs and the spread of lethal diseases carried by domestic dogs.

Funded and supported by Born Free, the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme team is working to study and protect the remaining populations and organises patrols to monitor the wolves, and education programmes to raise awareness to their plight. A recent outbreak of rabies was gradually overcome thanks to the tireless work of the EWCP team, vaccinating wolves and dogs.

Click on picture to be directed to Born Free website

And for more information about the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme please click on this link EWCP

The Ethiopian Wolf looks much like a British Fox

And what about other Wolf Conservation?

Depending on location, grey wolf populations vary from extinct or scarce, to relatively secure. Their legal status also varies from complete protection to efforts to exterminate the species. The IUCN1 Red List, which lists all threatened species of animals, classes the Ethiopian wolf as ‘endangered’.

“We want to protect wild wolves and other dog species, and have to do what we can to address any problems they cause with the help of local communities.”
Dr Claudio Sillero, Born Free’s Head of Conservation.

1International Union for Conservation of Nature

Next week: The Week Of The Bear, hosted by Dulcinea Norton- Smith who wrote about Meena The Dancing Bear...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Feral Children, I am Wolf

Romuls and Remus: raised by wolves?

While researching for I Am Wolf I also looked into the world of feral children and the claims made about children raised by animals. Of course there are many examples in literature which tend to be very unrealistic portrayals, often seeing the child as a hero, for example Romulus and Remus the founders of Rome, Tarzan becoming an iconic hero of stage and screen and Mowgi in Jungle Book.

Click on picture below for a real story:

I Am Wolf is intended as a more realistic portayal as these children never really learn language or essentially to become human again. I read a lot of disturbing psychological papers for this story and really felt that what I was reading was about the plight of, to all intents and purposes, a captive animal. I suppose the way I show Volchitsa's decline in the story is akin to an animal in a zoo and I do use references to the behaviour of wolves, including the captive animal showing displacement behaviour to illustrate the parallels. The main essence of my story is that you become what you are by what you know and Volchitsa was raised and nurtured by wolve- these will always be her family.

And Amy the reporter in the story sent to tell Volchitsa's story asks the question: why do you want to make her human? She sees the connection Volchitsa has and the extract I included in a previous post about the last time she sees her, shows how she really feels about this poor child. Amy begins, through her research into wolves to undertsand the wild animal and herself becomes obsessed with this beautiful animal- that no one should cage.

There is a ton of information out there about feral children, and bear in mind that I used this as a way fo showing what is human and what is wolf and I suppose this is why I called the story I AM WOLF, which is what Volchitsa was. This story helps us to look at what is animal and what is human. And shouldn't we let animals be what they should be. Shouldn't all animals be free to realise what they are?

Here are some links of you're interested in further reading: This has heaps of information
Wikipedia- interesting!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Wolves in Art and Literature

The wolf is widely represented in literature and art: this is interesting:

In my research for I Am Wolf I found out that the Wolf and its domestic cousin the Dog are the most common animals in literature. This I suppose is because they represent the wild and the tamed and this metaphor is commonly used in literature- many will have read Jack London's Call of the Wild and White Fang which explore these themes.

Also of course the wolf is mystical and the werewolf in literature. Here's an interesting book I came across as part of my research.
Good Book on Amazon- I bought it and I love it!

I thought very deeply about my story and I wrote an essay about the themes it explores so this book is useful.

My story explotes the idea of the feral child I will look at this tomorrow- made very interesting reading!


Monday, 25 January 2010

Wolf Facts and Figures

Fast Facts
Average life span in the wild:
6 to 8 years
Head and body, 36 to 63 in (91 to 160 cm); Tail, 13 to 20 in (33 to 51 cm)
40 to 175 lbs (18 to 79 kg)
Group name:
Protection status:
Red wolves live in the southeastern United States, where they are endangered. These animals actually became extinct in the wild in 1980. Scientists established a breeding program with a small number of captive red wolves and have reintroduced the animal to North Carolina. Today, perhaps 100 red wolves survive in the wild.

The maned wolf, a distant relative of the more familiar grey and red wolves, lives in South America. Physically, this animal resembles a large, red fox more than its wolf relatives.

Wolves live and hunt in packs of around six to ten animals. They are known to roam large distances, perhaps 12 miles (20 kilometers) in a single day. These social animals cooperate on their preferred prey—large animals such as deer, elk, and moose. When they are successful, wolves do not eat in moderation. A single animal can consume 20 pounds (9 kilograms) of meat at a sitting. Wolves also eat smaller mammals, birds, fish, lizards, snakes, and fruit.

Wolfpacks are established according to a strict hierarchy, with a dominant male at the top and his mate not far behind. Usually this male and female are the only animals of the pack to breed. All of a pack's adults help to care for young pups by bringing them food and watching them while others hunt.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Grey Wolf

The Grey Wolf (Canis Lupus) is the largest wild member of the Canidae family. It shares common ancestry with the domestic dog (Canis Lupus familiaris)

Wolves live in highly social groups with a dominance hierarchy. Although once widely abundant in North America and Eurasia the population is now restricted to smaller fringes, often in forests and tundra. This is attributed to widespread destruction of territory, human encroachment and local extinction due to human-wolf conflicts. Wolves can be found in forests, deserts, plains, mountains, and on tundra. Today the range of the grey wolf has been reduced to portions of the United States (Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, Wyoming), Canada, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Russia.

Click on map to see larger (from Wikipedia)

Although this species is thought not to be at high risk for extinction it is thought to be at risk and in some areas is protected while in others it is still hunted, for sport or where there is percieved to be a threat to livestock. In the US it is classified as endangered

See this link: Parks Figures

Threats: Because wolves need wildland habitat and an abundant supply of prey, human encroachment into wolf territory has become a leading threat to their survival. The illegal killing of wolves is also a serious problem

The wolf features heavily in literature as a mystical creature.
It is an intelligent, beautiful animal that is too often misunderstood.

Biological facts and figures tomorrow...

Friday, 22 January 2010

Sneak Preview Excerpt of I Am Wolf

“You stand at door,” the carer said.

But Amy didn’t move.

She stared at Volchitsa, at the way she blinked slowly, no expression, but tears ran along the edges of her thin face. She was staring back at Amy. She kept on staring back. Then she closed her eyes and pressed her cheek into the soft fur of the stuffed dog.

That’s when the moment got too big.

Amy hooked her bag over her shoulder, where it had fallen across her arm, and turned to look at the carer. Then she walked back towards the door. She wanted to turn around, to see Volchitsa one last time, to see her holding onto the stuffed animal, seeking comfort in the artificiality of it all. Jesus she wanted to take a photo and show the world. But what she did was walk away and what she heard was the pit-i-ful whimper of a wolf cub. It was the sound that followed her into the corridor where her footsteps clanked like a pulse against shiny floors, faster, louder, hands pressed to ears until she had smothered it. But it was there. Still there. Always there.

Amy didn’t need to speak wolf to know what Volchitsa was saying:

If she could have she would have taken her, right then she would have bundled her into her arms and taken her with her. She would have set her free along the edge of the forest, and she would have watched her walk away, on her hands and knees, back to who she was...

Copyright Debz Hobbs-Wyatt Gentle Footprint, Bridge House Publishing

My Story: I Am Wolf

My other passion apart from writing is animals. When I was a kid animal stories were just about all I wrote! I’m absolutely thrilled Gentle Footprints is been received so well.

It was hard to choose the animal as I love all animals. I suppose if anything I am really a cat person, however, the story that gave me the idea for this anthology, The Red Queen is about the plight of the last ocelots in the wild and was published in the Bridge House Anthology In the Shadow of the Red Queen. So I needed to choose something different.

I’m not entirely sure why I chose the wolf, although there has always been something mystical about wolves and they feature heavily in literature.

I Am Wolf is slightly unusual. Although the story is very much about wild wolves it is actually the story of a feral child that was reported to have been raised by wolves in Russia. The story of the child, Volchitsa (meaning female wolf) is told through the eyes of Amy, New York reporter sent to cover the story and dealing with her own issues with abandonment. Amy feels a strange connection to Volchitsa and Amy is someone who finds it hard to feel a connection to anyone. She has issues with love, with men, with people.

The story is about misfits needing to belong and through the harrowing story of Volchitsa we see the plight of the captive animal and we see Amy plunge into her obsession with wild wolves… but there can be only one ending…


The Author of I AM WOLF:
Debz Hobbs-Wyatt

About me

I was raised in Essex but I don’t like white stilettos! As a hobby I wrote.

I studied vet science at Liverpool University but I never finished (due to ill health.) As a hobby I wrote.

I worked in Liverpool for years and got my zoology degree with the Open University. As a hobby I wrote.

In Liverpool I met the love of my life, Lee. As a hobby I wrote.

I moved to North Wales to study for my MSc. in Ecology at Bangor (as a mature student of thirty-something!) As a hobby I wrote.

Lee moved in with me in 2002 and in 2004 we had two babies- of the feline variety: Cagney and Lacey

Just as we bought our first house 2005 Lee became very sick. He died of cancer holding my hand in 2005: the saddest thing that ever happened to me. Writing became more than a hobby- it saved my life!

My first novel As The Crow Cries, is a native American novel but will probably never see the light of day.

I am trying to get an agent with my second novel, Colourblind which has been written and rewritten several times. It had some good responses the first time but I realise now the writing needed sharpening.

The third novel is called The Reluctant Clairvoyant and is in its second draft.

The last twelve months have been dedicated to the short story which is a wonderful way to sharpen writing skills.

Right now I am still in North Wales with Cagney and Lacey and I am studying for my MA in creative writing, run the local writing group and of course handle the marketing for Bridge House Publishing. There’s no time for a hobby- because my life is writing!

My dream is to find an agent and a publisher for Colourblind that I believe will make a great Hollywood movie! I will dedicate my first novel to Lee.

Announcing Animal of the week... THE WEEK OF THE WOLF

Since this book is to raise awareness I have introduced ANIMAL OF THE WEEK which will start the weekend of January 23rd. Since this is something we've not tried before I will kick it off with my story which features THE WOLF. Next week Dulcinea Norton-Smith will tell about herself and her chosen animal THE BEAR. We will begin by telling you about the author and then we will run features about the animal- this can include poems, links to books, societies, conservation projects, art, photography and we welcome your comments, anecdotes, anything that you think you can add to raise awareness about the chosen animal and links to websites you might have come across.

So I am proud to announce that from tomorrow it is officially THE WEEK OF THE WOLF...

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Book Launch Hay- On-Wye

Good news- Gentle Footprints to be launched this summer at the Guardian Hay- On-Wye Literary Festival on FRIDAY JUNE 4th!!!! Full details still to be finalised.

Full festival details:

And both Richard Adams and Virginia McKenna have agreed to be guest speakers!


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Coming Soon: Animal Of The Week

Since the idea of this book is to raise awareness through fiction, we will taking a look at both the authors who wrote the stories for this collection as well as something about the animals they've written about.

Animal Of The Week is a chance to look more closely at the animal, including pictures, personal experiences, even quirky poems and other ways this animal has been represented in the arts including literature. We will look at how the public can get involved in its protection, local and global protection etc.

So watch this space, coming soon!


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

What animals will be in our book?

With so many great stories and so many animals we had our job cut out looking for just the right stories for this collection, without over representing the same animal. And we wanted the stories to be true to Born Free's ideals.

Here's an exclusive peep at the list of what's in- and soon I will be asking each of the authors to write something for a special Author's Area of the Blog with more about them, their writing and some facts and figures about their chosen animal.

But for now here the list: (in no particular order)

Honey Badger
Wild Bear
Moon Bear
Snow Leopard
Capuchin Monkey
Dancing Bear
Escaped Puma
Wild Horse
Great Auk

More soon...

Monday, 11 January 2010

Authors Informed!

Well Born Free have now approved our selection and I let the lucky and unlucky authors know this evening. We had about 200 stories so selecting 19 when they were all excellent wasn't easy.

Unlucky authors take heed because the standard was high and some of the stories weren't rejected because of the writing but simply because they did not fit the brief or did not fit right with the selection. We had to keep in mind that we wanted stories that really got into the head of the animal and gave a sense of a wild animal- which I think we have achieved!

So sorry to those that didn't make it this time but we hope we can count on everyone to support with project!


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Gentle Footprints

The collection of animal stories to raise funds for the Born Free Foundation featuring new story by Richard Adams, author of Watership Down.

Gentle Footprints is a superb collection of short stories by nineteen different authors that will raise both awareness and funds for Born Free's valuable work for animals.

The idea was conceived by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, marketing manager, writer and most of all animal lover and she hopes this delightful book will do amazing things. But it needs your help. Anyone interested in getting involved please contact Debz at Bridge House Publishing.

Bridge House is a small independent publisher but we hope to show what can be achieved by getting this book into every independent bookshop in the UK!