Erin Hunter is the nom de plume of three British writers who create enthralling, animal-centric YA fantasies in the tradition of Brian Jacques's Redwall books.
Erin Hunter is the nom de plume of three British writers who create enthralling, animal-centric YA fantasies in the tradition of Brian Jacques's Redwall books. In 2003, they launched their bestselling Warriors series with Into the Wild, the story of a domesticated kitten who leaves the comforts of his human home to join a family of feral cats living in the woods. Introducing a captivating world where rival cat clans struggle for survival, the book was an immediate sensation with animal- and adventure-loving preteens. Since its debut, Warriors has become a genuine publishing phenomenon, spawning a string of six-book miniseries, each with its own distinct story arc.
The Erin Hunter collaboration is an unusual but highly successful one. Characters and story ideas emanate from editor Victoria Holmes, who keeps track of previous plot lines, ensures continuity, and coordinates the details of a complex and growing cast of characters. Kate Cary and Cherith Baldry take turns writing individual books; then everything is vetted again through Holmes, who checks carefully to make sure the stories are told in a single, unified voice. With different writing styles at work, this would seem a daunting task. However, in a 2006 interview, Holmes explained her modus operandi: "I think of it as being able to "speak Erin Hunter", like speaking a different language, and after working on [so many] scripts, I know pretty much at once if a line or phrase doesn't sound right."
Although the Erin Hunter books are written for young readers, they do not shy away from difficult material. The animals face life-threatening dangers and experience pain, grief, and loss -- sometimes even treachery within their own ranks. But the authors are always careful to reinforce positive messages about family, friendship, loyalty, and love. Independently, Holmes, Cary, and Baldry stay busy with their own writing and editing projects; but in 2008, they reunited for a second animal fantasy series. Seekers: The Quest Begins features a trio of bears from different species (black, polar, and grizzly), who join together for an adventure-filled odyssey that will change their lives forever.
Good To Know
Fun facts about "Erin Hunter" and the Warrior books, plus advice for aspiring writers: Cherith Baldry and Kate Cary have always loved cats -- and writing fantasy stories! Cherith is particularly interested in the stories of King Arthur, with all those glorious battles, knights, and a courtly code of behavior. Kate is fascinated by animal interaction and the way you can read all sorts of hidden motivation into what cats do. She's also not afraid of describing the goriest scenes!
Says Victoria Holmes, "I love being one of the Erins and frequently dream of being a cat running through a forest when I am coming up with new story lines. Teaming up with Kate and Cherith on the Warriors books is an unconventional way of working, but we love writing the books together and it means we can produce them much faster than a single writer could."
They came up with the single name, Erin Hunter, to avoid confusing their readers by having books from the same series filed in different places on the bookshelves.
Erin's advice for aspiring writers: "Read, read, and read some more! Make sure you read a wide variety of stories: fantasy stories teach you about making up completely new worlds, crime-solving stories teach you about handling a complicated plot, stories with lots of characters teach you how to describe relationships. Also, write as many stories as you can, even if no one else reads them. And remember that the best inspiration comes from what's around you -- Kate and Cherith go for long walks through the woods to find new locations for the cats to explore. They also spend hours watching their cats -- and other people -- to see how they behave in certain situations."