Today, I’m pleased to welcome writer friend, and author of more than twenty books, Alison Reynolds.
Alison and Sean Willmore (founder of The Thin Green Line) are the authors of the very popular Ranger in Danger Series.
Alison grew up and still lives in suburban Melbourne, but she says she often feels like a ranger in danger.
I have a pack of wild dogs, possums tap-dance on the roof all night, and the neighbour’s scarily giant rabbits bounce across the front yard. Then there are the bats, cats and marsupial rats. Melbourne
Being a writer was something Alison always wanted to do, but she felt as if it was something other people did.
After a series of jobs, as a public servant, market researcher, working in a radio station, restaurant, bookshop, and for the most curmudgeonly boss in Melbourne, I decided if I was ever going to be a writer that now was the time. I was home with youngish children. I gained a Graduate certificate in Professional writing and editing and a MA in Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne. I was lucky enough to have my first book, The Ghostly Hand accepted in 1997 and I haven’t stopped writing since.
The Ranger In Danger books are taken from real life experiences of rangers around the world. So how did the Alison and Sean writing team come together to tell these stories?
Alison says she was approached by the publisher to write a series with a ranger, Sean Willmore who has founded The Thin Green Line – a foundation to look after the welfare of rangers’ families where the ranger has been killed in the line of duty.
Sean and Alison brainstormed and came up with a ‘decide your destiny’ book set in Africa, Diablo’s Doom.
The reader goes to Africa as a ranger in training, but on the plane they overhear a voice speaking of killing rhinoceros. The reader embarks on an adventure where they make the choices and one wrong choice may end in death.
You require all the animal facts and ranger skills you know. You fight poachers; are charged by elephants and one, very angry rhinoceros; and need all your ingenuity to survive. It’s up to you, the reader to decide your destiny.
WHY KIDS LIKE RANGER IN DANGER BOOKS
The Ranger In Danger books are for 8 – 12 year-olds. They are full of adventure and facts about nature.
The ‘decide your destiny’ format, gives the reader the power to imagine what they would do if they were a ranger.
The main character is the reader. Alison says,
Each book in the series features a real-life ranger, and I’m full of admiration for his or her bravery and wisdom. Even though I’ve never met Makombo, who is in Diablo’s Doom, I feel as if I do know him and admire and respect him very much.
One of his jobs has been to protect the gorillas in Rwanda against poachers who are ruthless. Many rangers die in the line of duty.
THE WRITING PROCESS
Alison says that one of the most fun parts about writing the Ranger In Danger books was meeting and becoming friends with Sean Willmore, and learning about rangers and wildlife around the world.
The actual writing is a lot of fun as Sean and I brainstorm a vague outline, then I think ‘what if?’. I try to make each strand of the story more challenging for me as a writer.
When I get stuck, I contact Sean and tell him, for example, the little ranger has accidentally jumped out of a motorized rickshaw over the side of a steep mountain in India, and ask him what can he suggest. So far, we haven’t been stumped for an answer.
According to Alison, the hardest thing about writing the books is keeping track of all the different strands and coming up with so many choices.
Find out more about Alison and her books at http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au
On Friday, we’re going to be discussing the Ranger in Danger books in more detail at Kids’ Book Capers.