Adventurous author fires children's imagination

Chris HillYoung readers were transported to a world of dense jungles, mysterious tribes and traditional adventures when a children's author returned to his Norfolk home to talk about his new book.Chris Hill

Young readers were transported to a world of dense jungles, mysterious tribes and traditional adventures when a children's author returned to his Norfolk home to talk about his new book.

David Miller spoke to fascinated groups of children at Dereham and Reepham libraries to promote Leopard's Claw, the third instalment in his Shark Island adventure series.

The author talked about his own experiences in South East Asia, which had formed a real-life setting for the fictional adventures of his central characters Hanna, Ned and Jik in Borneo.

He showed the children at the libraries a real blow-pipe and poison arrows, collected on his travels.


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Some youngsters also got the chance to dress up as Kenyah warriors - a tribe of former headhunters mentioned in the book.

Mr Miller said he was inspired to start writing children's adventures about seven years ago when his own daughter Hanna, whose name was given to one of his characters, was 13 years old.

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He said: 'Since Enid Blyton fell out of fashion, the market has been swamped with fantasy stories, with the success of Harry Potter and vampires for the older children. There was a feeling that this was the time for the return of the great British adventure story - and children love it.

'The setting is very authentic and I weave the stories around the facts of what that part of the world is like.'

Mr Miller said his research for the book included a six-week exploratory journey to southern Borneo.

'There are not many places like that left in the world,' he said. 'It is an extraordinary place. I was nearly killed by a poisonous snake - I vamp up these stories for the children to make it a bit more Indiana Jones and keep them interested. It all gives them a feeling of what the book is about so they can visualise what is going on.'

King's Lynn-born Mr Miller said he had a 'deep love' of Norfolk and still has a home in Great Massingham, the village near Dereham where he grew up.

He left Norfolk to study at university and worked in advertising until he published his first novel, a thriller, in 1987.

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