The story of how ‘Whale Boy ’came to be written began more than 30 years ago on a station platform in Cambridge where I met Hal Whitehead, now a professor of zoology but then a PhD student studying humpbacked whales. Hal and I became instant friends. We shared a passion for animals and the sea, and a similar taste in music. He gave me a copy of Joni Mitchel’s album Blue, which is still my all time favourite.
I joined his research team in Canada for two summers, and off and on in the years since I’ve been part of his crew, on boats studying blue and sperm whales from the Indian Ocean to the Caribbean. Not only has my friendship with Hal enabled me to get close to wild whales, but our long conversations (sometimes quite silly ones!) whilst at sea have shaped my thinking and imagination. I’ve learnt a lot of songs too, from other crew members, over the years and spent many hours at the tiller, staring at the wide sea, singing and being a million percent happy. Much of the energy in my creative batteries has come from those times but it took me three decades to put my experiences at sea with sperm whales into a story.
This post is part of a very special BookTrust Blog tour and you can find the other posts here: