This is an analysis of, and an in depth discussion about, the name Erin Hunter, the author of the Warriors books. Date: 2008 – things change!
Most of us know that this is a pseudonym or nom de plume (French for “name of pen” in a strict translation) of what used to be three British writers living in England. There are now 4 and the fourth is not British but a Venezuelan living in Boston, America. This is an unusual way of working but one that has succeeded spectacularly well. Perhaps it was a particularly good idea when writing a large number of books, in a series, as it speeds up work and maintains continuity (one of the authors is in charge of continuity). In practice, in any event, I am sure that a team of people work on book series so this is formalizing that process. That’s the way I see it anyway. But was the concept of a series planned at the outset?
Apparently, yes, according to an interview on the website, “Time for Kids”. The publisher of the Warrior cats series had planned for a large number of books at the outset. As it was impossible for Victoria Holmes to write them all a team had to be brought together. That in turn led to the need for a pen name. Also according this interview one factor in choosing, “Erin Hunter” was that it is close alphabetically to a successful series of animal fantasy books by the author Brian Jacques.
However, what is the origin of the name, Erin Hunter? The name is well known but other than the above, I can’t find anything on the Internet that explains how and why this name was chosen. Because of that I discuss and analyze the name here.
The first name, “Erin” is particularly interesting. Erin is derived from the Irish word “Éirinn”, which is the word for Ireland when used as the dative case. Would it be used like this: “The gift was given to Éirinn, to all Irish people”? Anyway, the name “Erin” was used as a romantic name for Ireland by poets amongst others. Early Scots also used the word “Erin” when referring to Ireland and the west generally (Ireland is west of Scotland). Erin is also the name for Ireland in Welsh. This name is imbued in Gaelic history.
Above: Carrowmore tomb, Ireland — photo from PDphoto.org
Given the above origins of the name, it is normally used as the given (Christian) name of a woman but can be used for both sexes and it is, or has been, a popular name in America. There is another Scottish connection. The name Erin was used as one of the spellings of the family name Irwin, the Scottish clan involved in the colonization of Ireland.
O.K., Erin has a long history connected with Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Gaelic areas. Gaelic, the Irish language, is meant to still be spoken in parts of Ireland but very rarely is and few people understand it.
On the origin of the name Erin Hunter, I conclude, but stand to be corrected, that the maiden, or given name, was chosen because of its Gaelic history and its connection with Ireland and Scotland. There is at least one more connection between the Warrior Cats series and Scotland. The Scottish Highlands were one of a number of influencing factors in the creation of the Warrior Cats series. It seems that the influencing factors are more likely to have been something old and slightly mysterious. For example, the source of the herbal remedies that are used in the book come from a very old book called Complete Herbal(1653), written by Nicholas Culpeper (18 October 1616 – 1654 in London) who was a herbalist and physician. The book is still published in the original langauge of the time. (see Amazon: Culpeper’s Complete Herbal).
The Scottish/Gaelic connection through the name of Erin Hunter might have been suggested by Kate Cary, one of the authors of the Warrior Cats series, as she once lived in Scotland for 12 years, moving back to England in 2004. However, this was not the case as the name was already decided when Kate Gary joined the team. It might be fair to suggest that Cherith Baldry and Victoria Holmes decided on the surname “Hunter” on a purely practical basis (or was it the publishers who decided on the name — can someone leave a comment, please?). After all the feral cats of the series survive by using their well developed hunting skills.
The name “Hunter” can be used as a boys or girls given name and is also used as a surname, derived, as it must be, from the occupation of hunting. Names were often derived from occupations. In Erin Hunter we have a name that conjures up the mysticism of Gaelic tradition and which has a sense of the wild, which combine to create a name that is well suited to be the author of a book about feral cats that take on the personas of people living in another world. This leads me to talk about the authors, the four people who together constitute Erin Hunter. The four are; Cherith Baldry, Kate Gary, Victoria Holmes and Tui T. Sutherland.
Above: A fine Savannah Cat, could be a warrior cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick. Please respect copyright.
Cherith Baldry and Kate Gary take turns in writing the individual books. The latest recruit (if I may say that) to the Erin Hunter team, Tui Sutherland, is also involved in writing individual books and wrote (on her own or with the others? – I am not sure) Seekers (a series) and Secrets of the Clans. Victoria Holmes edits, tracks plots and ensures continuity as I understand the process. Here is some more about these talented women.
Cherith Baldry has an interest in fantasy and fiction, which is amply demonstrated in Warrior Cat series of books. She has written many other books, however. Born in 1947 (making her 61 at 2008) in Lancaster (the north of England) she had a great education studying at the Universities of Manchester and Oxford. She trained as a teacher and taught English until at least 1988 (still does? – not sure). Cherith was (and still is?) qualified to examine. She has Christian beliefs and is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Writers (1991-current) and the British Science Fiction Association. She has written Fiction (e.g. Mutiny in Space (Puffin Surfers) (for children), illustrated by Mark Edwards, Puffin (London, England), 1997), the “Saga of The Six Worlds” series for children (see: Rite of Brotherhood (Saga of the Six Worlds), the Eaglesmount Mystery series for children, the Abby Mysteries series for children, plays and educational books. Writing is, it seems, in Cherith Baldry’s blood. She has been writing since she was a child and has a natural capacity to create characters, which seems to run in the family. She grew up on a farm where there were cats. She lives in Reigate, Kent (note: people move so this may change or has changed as at December 2008). See some more about her here: Cherith Baldry (1947–) Biography – Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights.
I’m pleased to say that Kate Gary has her own Blog, on which there is an About me page. So, I won’t say much here. Kate Gary was born in 1967, is English and currently (at Jan 2009) lives in the north of England. As mentioned, she lived in Scotland for 12 years, moving back to England in 2004. Kate has also written a couple of vampire novels: Bloodline and Bloodline: The Reckoning.
Victoria “Vicky” Holmes
Victoria Holmes is said to create the plots and manage the stories, acting as an editor and the others do the actual writing. I would expect the others to play a role in the process of creating plots as this would seem to be common sense and, as mentioned, Cherith Baldry is good at character creation (and there has imagination). Victoria Holmes grew up on a farm and although she lives in London gets back to the country when she can to ride horses, a interest she has had since she was a child. She has a dog called Missy. She went to Oxford University and has written a number of books herself: Rider in the Dark, published in 2004, The Horse from the Sea, published in 2005, and Heart of Fire, published in 2006. See a photo of her and read and interview she gave on this website: Interview with Victoria Holmes. Click here for another interview: VICTORIA HOLMES INTERVIEW, MAY 6TH, TORONTO.
Tui T. Sutherland
The latest addition to the team, Tui T. Sutherland is a 30 year old Venezualan (at Dec. 2008) living in Boston, USA. She is a childrens book author and has published work under the pseudonym, Heather Williams. She was involved in the writing of: Warriors: Warriors Field Guide: Secrets of the Clans (2007) and Warriors: Warriors: Cats of the Clans (2008). In addition she has written: Meet Mo and Ella (2001), Fun with Mo and Ella (2002), Monster Party (with glitter tattoos)(2000), Silly Creepy Crawlies (with glitter tattoos) (2000), Glittering Galaxies: A Trip Through the Stars (with glitter tattoos), The Quest Begins (2008 – Seekers), Kermit’s Mixed-Up Valentines (co-written with Emily Sollinger) (2001), Hide and Go Peep! (2001), Who Was Harry Houdini? (2002), This Must Be Love (2004), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), He’s With Me (I Heart Bikinis) (2007), Nellie Oleson Meets Laura Ingalls (Little House) (2007) (2001). She also wrote three books (a trilogy) in what she calls the Avatar series: So This is How It Ends, Shadow Falling and the latest, Kingdom of Twilight.
Tui has her own website. Click on this link to go it: Tui T. Sutherland. Finally, she has written a book, Save The Date, under the pseudonym Tamara Summers. She will be involved in the writing of future Warriors books under the pseudonym, Erin Hunter.
Erin Hunter — Source other than referred to in the text:
- Wikipedia for the use and origin the name “Erin” and information on the authors
- Kate Gary’s Blog for information on her — http://writerunboxed.com (Interview with Victoria Holmes)
Click here for Upcoming books by Erin Hunter (goes off site).