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Clare Bell says: “My love for big cats ( pumas, lions, leopards, and especially cheetahs) and a childhood fascination with prehistoric animals led to my first published novel, Ratha's Creature.
My other inspirations include the works of paleontologist Bjorn Kurtin, Natural History essayist Stephen J. Gould, and artist Charles R. Knight. Recently, The Big Cats and Their Fossil Relatives, by Alan Turner, with outstandingly accurate and beautiful artistic restorations by Spanish artist Mauricio Anton, helped spur me to write Ratha's Courage, the fifth novel about Ratha, which has just been published by Imaginator Press as a trade paperback.
Clan Ground review
First, a welcome for Clare Bell’s re-newed inventiveness in Clan Ground, the sequel to Ratha’s Creature (reviewed in TES 6.6.86.). On another planet/alternative world, millions of years in the past, intelligent cats (instead of primates) have developed language and a rudimentary society. They realize that they have become different from those cats they call the Un-Named, who have remained animals. In the first instalment of the saga, the feline heroine Ratha discovered how to tame fire, and became leader of the Clan. In the sequel, the author continues to provoke her readers with situations which could have had parallels in mankind’s evolution.
A strange cat comes from outside the Clan, and claims membership because he can speak. He does not, however, directly challenge Ratha’s authority with his superior fighting skills. Instead he takes some fire from the Clan’s communal supplies into a cave, pretending to store it in case of storms. Gradually this fire grows bigger, and becomes the focus of a primitive religion. Cats sneak away from the main camp-fires to dance around and worship the fire in the cave. Ratha, once more driven out from the Clan, must devise a scheme to destroy the fire and her rival.
My speculation that the cats would be limited in their move towards civilization without manipulative skills, has be answered by the introduction of new characters – friendly monkeys who can be trained to help the cats carry fire and perform other tasks. This allegorical fantasy series has much to offer thoughtful teenagers. --- Jessica Yates, London Times Educational Supplement 14.11.86