In Conversation with David Ross, author of The Three Hares: Terracotta Horse
Posted in Neem Tree Blog on September 13, 2022
The final instalment of The Three Hares Trilogy by Scott Lauder and David Ross will be released this October. This historical fantasy quest series plunges us back in time, first to the vicious Battle of Maldon between the Saxons and the Vikings, and then Xi’an, home of the Terracotta Warriors in China. I spoke to David Ross about the series, read on to find out more!
Please tell us a little bit about you and your journey as an author and working with Scott Lauder on this book.
Scott and I met in Japan many years ago (long enough that I always stop and think “No way!” after I say the number.) I remember our shared interest in poetry; as a result, I was delighted to be invited me on this project. My writing grew in part out of my interest learning other languages. Working with Scott has made me aware of how many ways there are to tell stories.
The symbol of the three hares has a fascinating history behind it. Could you tell us about this and how it inspired you and Scott to write The Three Hares?
The Three Hares! What a fascinating bit of history! This image, of three hares running together, sharing the same ears so that they are almost one being, is visible at different sites across Asia and Europe. Their existence is still a bit of a mystery. The images have a mystical quality to them, one that symbolizes regeneration and life. We were drawn to the possibilities they offered for our story.
Please tell us a little bit about the story and the main protagonist Salma.
Salma is a teen who is learning to channel her emotions and think through her actions. She has a strong sense of justice, of doing what’s right. A Syrian girl who has been exposed to aggression in her life, Salma is becoming aware of how she can be a force for good.
Salma and a few of her friends are children of immigrants/refugees who have moved to the UK. Was this a conscious decision and if so, what did you want to impart to your readers through this?
My personal experience of refugees is more directly related to the work I do in upstate NY, where I teach ENL (English as a New Language) to refugees. While these primarily come from other countries (Burma and Somalia, for example), I was very sympathetic to the plight of Salma in the UK. The challenges that immigrants and refugees face (being uprooted from one’s entire culture and having another imposed) are very real. I have nothing but respect for my students and their families.
The Terracotta Horse is the third instalment in The Three Hares, what can readers expect to take away from this story?
For me, the primary take-away is the importance of working together for something larger than yourself. We are all inter-dependent; we need others to see who we are and what we can be. This is probably true even when you are not trying to save the world from a crazed shaman.
This story is rich in history, culture, and mythology, did you do a lot of research to ensure that the factual elements of the story were accurate?
Both of us are big cultural history buffs, so we read many books to ensure our representations were as authentic as possible. I think the fantastic elements of the book(s) are made more exciting by the way they connect to actual history. They also help readers learn about these different cultures and historical events.
If you could be transported to any other time period in history, what would it be any why?
My first response was some time in Japan, maybe the 19 century … but you know how easy it is to romanticize the past. If I were of high-enough social status … Actually, I believe the time we currently live in is pretty amazing. We’ve seen remarkable transition and innovation – social changes that (by and large) foster increased equality, enhanced skills using computers, possibilities for creativity using AI, interconnectivity via the internet, etc. Despite some daunting problems yet to face, we live in a most wondrous time.
Do you have any other works in progress that you can tell us about?
Scott and I are going to work on our solo plans before we co-author again. I have two children’s books coming out that I am very excited about: And Sometimes Y, in which a consonant, X, and a vowel, O, have a child, Y, who they don’t quite know what to make of … especially when Y changes fonts and colors. I think readers will see the value and importance of embracing diversity. My other work, Yenta Claus, shows the relationship between Santa and his Jewish wife, Yenta. It’s a fun (and funny) book that depicts their shared affection as they celebrate Christmas and Hannukah together.
Finally, I wondered if you could suggest three top tips for aspiring middle grade authors?
I can tell you what I think about: First off, I believe that middle grade readers are ready to think about big ideas and should be presented with concepts they can grow with. Second, as many already make use of media that is predominantly visual in nature, they need to read works that use colorful, evocative language to engage them – particularly of their other senses. This should be evident in the choice of vocabulary. It is important that we don’t deprive readers of chances to learn by thinking “that word is too difficult for them.” Contextualized properly, every word can be made intelligible. And third, the obvious one: the story should be something that can matter to them. I might regard certain current issues and events as important, but if I can’t set the ideas in a way that matter, readers won’t be inclined to consider them carefully.
The Three Hares: The Terracotta Horse will be published October 6th and is available to pre-order now