Brother, Bear by Ellie Karlin is shortlisted for the 2022 Author of Tomorrow, 12-15 years.
Brother, Bear: Suusan and her twin brother Anik belong to the Polar Bear Patrol Group; they are sworn to protect both the villagers from the polar bears and the polar bears themselves, who are each year driven closer and closer to the village by climate change. But everything changes when Anik is savagely killed by a huge polar bear while trying to spare its life. Suusan, driven almost mad by grief, embarks on a vengeful mission to kill the polar bear who killed Anik, yet the choice between vengeance and mercy, brother and bear, is not as easy as it seems…
An Interview with Ellie:
WNSF: What is your favourite book?
Ellie: Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens is (one of) my favourite books because I feel so deeply connected with all the different characters. Characterisation is a strength in all of Dickens’s books that I have read however in Dombey there is a smaller range of characters so Dickens focuses greatly on their depth and complexity ; characters like Mr Dombey, Paul, Florence, Walter and Sol are so vividly described that their successes and struggles resonated deeply with me and since reading it, I have never forgotten the emotional impact they all made upon me.
WNSF: Who is your favourite author? Or one who has inspired you and why?
Ellie: I am inspired by Jay Kristoff, author of the Nevernight Chronicle. The ‘narrator’ of the books (later revealed as one of the characters) writes footnotes with numerous pieces of culture and history which are not only humorously written but build up a complex, detailed fantasy world with an uncommon level of reality that I would love to be able to create for myself.
WNSF: What is your favourite subject at school?
Ellie: At school, I really like English of course, because we get to read and write so much, however two of my favourite subjects are also History and Geography because they teach you so much about the world, past and present respectively. After these lessons I always have a lot to think about and I go away with a lot of creative inspiration.
WNSF: What does ‘adventure writing’ mean to you? Why did you choose to try your hand at an adventure story?
Ellie: For me, ‘adventure writing’ is about putting your characters in situations which appeal to the reader’s imagination while also developing the depth of the characters by showing how they think and react. I wanted to write an adventure story because I have read a lot of adventure books and it seemed like a really interesting way to challenge myself.
WNSF: If you could ask an author anything, what would you want to know?
Ellie: I would want to ask an author how they planned plotted their books effectively before writing without losing motivation. This is a problem for me because, as I am writing increasingly longer stories, I have found that I need to have a clearer and more detailed outline of what’s going to happen. Especially when using less formulaic structures, I often struggle with this, leading to plot problems during the writing process.
WNSF: Who would you consider one of your heroes and why?
Ellie: Jacinda Arden, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, is one of my heroes. Admittedly, I don’t know an great deal about the details of her policies or decisions (I do not live in New Zealand) however I have watched her speak several times and read about her and have been extremely impressed by how much honesty, good sense and integrity she shows. I think she is a role model for how a politician is meant to be, and living proof that women can govern just as well as men.
WNSF: What is the most adventurous thing you would like to do, or place you would like to visit and why?
Ellie: I would love to observe tigers in their natural habitat in countries across Asia — not in safari parks or zoos but actually free. It’s very upsetting for me how tiger numbers are dwindling due to poaching, climate change, and other factors. They’ve always been my favourite animal and it would be an almost unthinkable experience to see them just as they are, though of course observing them properly outside of a controlled environment would have its risks!
WNSF: Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Ellie: I usually need a single idea or influence when starting a story; this mainly comes from a particular aspect of a different book I have been reading, however it can also come from current affairs, my experiences and interactions with people, or really anything that crosses my mind as being particularly striking or having lots of possibilities.
WNSF: If you could time travel, where would you go and why?
Ellie: If I could time travel, I would go to a time after the First World War but before the Second. I’d travel around Europe and in Australia, so that I could see what all the relatives I’ve never met were like before World War II and the Holocaust changed everything.
WNSF: What three words would you use to describe your story?
Ellie: Grief. Vengeance. Choice.