The Writer's Pet: Hannah Gold and The Last Bear

Hannah Gold on her tortoise and her cat – and her much-anticipated children’s book, The Last Bear.

A black-and-orange tortoiseshell cat sits on the keyboard of an open laptop. It's Hannah Gold's cat and she told me all about her upcoming book

No. 11 in the series The Writer's Pet by Zazie Todd PhD.

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Hannah Gold’s much-anticipated debut is a story of friendship and a call for us all to protect the wild. The Last Bear is beautifully illustrated by Kate Slater (US/Canada) and Levi Pinfold (elsewhere) and is for 8-12 year old animal lovers everywhere. Michael Morpurgo says, “This is an important first novel, important for us, for polar bears, for the planet. It is deeply moving, beautifully told, quite unforgettable.”

The Last Bear publishes on 2nd Feb in North America, on 3rd Feb in Australia & New Zealand, and 18th Feb in the UK. I asked Hannah about how her love of animals influences her writing, and how her pets help or hinder the process.

Cover of the book, The Last Bear, by Hannah Gold. The Writer's Pet interview with Gold.

What are your pets’ names?

I have a pet cat called Grem (because when she was a kitten she looked exactly like a gremlin!) and a tortoise who goes by the name of Arthur.

Types of pet?

Grem was a 3-day old kitten abandoned in a rural farm in Spain and of no particular breed. She is now 16 and still just as sprightly. Arthur is a Hermann/spurthigh cross.

"The Last Bear is primarily a story of friendship"

What do you love most about your pets? 

I just love the warmth and comfort they bring us, how they each have their own unique personalities and how unconditional their love is. What is a home without a pet?! It’s an empty one.

What makes your pets happy? 

Grem loves treats, fuss and curling up in front of a hot fire.

Arthur likes sunshine, dandelion leaves and climbing.

Writer Hannah Gold's tortoise in the garden. The Writer's Pet spoke to Hannah about her pets and her book, The Last Bear

Do your pets help or hinder your writing? In what way?

The Last Bear is inspired by my deep love of animals and so I would definitely say my pets inspire me. I tried to put as much of my own emotion as possible into the book so I could capture that unique bond that exists between child and animal and I hope it inspires children (and grown ups) to realise wild animals need our love and protection just as much as our pets do.

Tell me about your book.

There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to a faraway Arctic outpost.

But one night, April catches a glimpse of something distinctly bear shaped loping across the horizon. A polar bear who shouldn’t be there—who is hungry, lonely and a long way from home. Determined to save him, so begins the biggest journey of April’s life.

Writer Hannah Gold's tortoiseshell cat sitting next to her open laptop. The Writer's Pet on Hannah Gold and The Last Bear

The Last Bear is primarily a story of friendship – between a lonely 11-year-old girl and a wild polar bear. It’s also a battlecry for our planet and includes information about the plight of polar bears.

I recently found out that it’s been selected for The Junior Library Guild as one of their gold star standard books.

What was your favourite book as a child?

Tough to choose just one! So . . .I am going to cheat and choose three. And since I’ve always loved animal stories then either Narnia, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh or The Animals of Farthing Wood.

"I hope it inspires children (and grown ups) to realise wild animals need our love and protection just as much as our pets do."

What was it that inspired you to become a writer?

I actually can’t remember wanting to be anything different – except for a brief spell wanting to be a vet. But since I couldn’t bear the thought of having to put animals down, I decided to write about them instead – which is far less traumatic.

Name your favourite bookstore that has your book for sale:

The Last Bear is available for pre-order in the Companion Animal Psychology Amazon store and at all good bookstores

Hannah Gold grew up in a family where books, animals, and the beauty of the outside world were ever present, and is passionate about writing stories that share her love of the planet. She now lives in the UK with her tortoise, her cat, and her husband and, when not writing, is busy hunting for her next big animal story as well as practicing her roar. The Last Bear is her debut novel. 

Website Follow Hannah Gold on Facebook Twitter and Instagram  

See all of the featured authors in The Writer's Pet. If you're a traditionally published author and think your book would be a good fit for this series, see the guidelines for The Writer's Pet.

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the award-winning author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy and Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. She is the creator of the popular blog, Companion Animal Psychology, writes The Pawsitive Post premium newsletter, and also has a column at Psychology Today. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats. 

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