In addition to the trips which I made specifically to research the books, I have over the years made many trips which I have used in writing the books.
- The Shetland Isles: in 1988 I rented a remote cottage on Unst, the northernmost island in the British Isles. My notes on the seals, seabirds and scenery were very useful in writing Spirit Walker.
- The Hardanger region of Norway: in 1988 I spent two weeks in an isolated cottage on the Hardangerfjord. Again, I’ve used my notes of that time in writing the books.
- Iceland: in 1992 I spent two weeks riding Icelandic horses across the north-west part of the island. Again, I have used my notes of this trip, and will do so for future books in the series.
- The Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada: In 1997 I took a year’s sabbatical from being a lawyer, and made two six-week solo trips to the US, hiking alone in the National Parks. I picked up the atmosphere of the forests, and sighted elk, moose, mule deer, osprey, and porcupine. I also had my encounter with the bear (see below), and made a kind of “tree pilgrimage” to see the giant sequoias and redwoods in California and Oregon, and the world’s oldest living organisms, the bristlecone pines, in the Sierra Nevada (some are 7000-8000 years old).
- The Chihuahua Desert of northern Mexico, and the American South-west: on a five-day horseback ride across the desert I studied Native American uses of desert plants, while in the South-west I visited Anasazi ruins, and gained a strong impression of how the resourcefulness of indigenous.The foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in Poland: I hiked alone in some very wild forest. By day I found fresh wolf tracks, and also, one unnerving occasion, a large, steaming pile of droppings (I wasn’t sure if they’d been made by a bison or a bear!). By night I heard the unearthly bellows of red deer in rut, and once, memorably, the faraway howls of a wolf pack…
It’ll be clear by now that I’ve tried very hard to make Torak’s world accurate; and recently I had confirmation that I might have succeeded, when I was asked to open a special Wolf Brother display case at the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The Museum has taken excerpts from the book, and exhibited them along with real archaeological artefacts mentioned in the story, such as flint flakes, red ochre, etc. I was delighted that the book has been so honoured!