I enjoyed writing The Prince of the Icemark enormously; and in fact it was inspired by several readers who sent fan letters asking to know more about Redrought as a character. He was killed quite early in The Cry of the Icemark but obviously the huge bear of a man who was the King of his country, a doting father and loved cats with a passion, made quite an impression on the readers, and so the scene was set for a revisit. But this time I wanted to study Redrought as a boy just before he settled into the throne of the Icemark. And then when he was finally forced to become King after his brother was killed, I wanted to show him growing into the job.
I actually based part of Redrought’s character on every awkward, stumbling and shy teenage boy I’ve ever known – including me! As a grown-up he was a like a cross between a friendly Viking and a grizzly bear; the type of bear that would deliberately break wind loudly in quiet exam rooms or tell vicars dirty jokes and then roar with laughter, not noticing the silence that had settled around him. But as a boy he was very different. He’d blush if a girl so much as looked at him, and he’d definitely fall over his own feet if he had to do something terrifying like actually go for a walk with one of the strange creatures that he found so fascinating.
I also wanted to go back and tell the stories of some my other favourite characters, especially the Vampire King and Queen. I absolutely loved writing about them; I particularly enjoyed their snobbery, their refined manners and their sarcasm – and all of that, coupled with their ferocity, made me think of some of my old teachers (not all of them – I had some great teachers). I could just imagine His Vampiric Majesty as an old-style headmaster who’d sweep through the corridors in a long gown, on the hunt for prey or for any pupil who’d forgotten their homework! And Her Vampiric Majesty would just have to be a maths teacher … precise, professional, petrifying!
I think there are more stories to be told involving the young King Redrought, his fighting, farting cat Cadwalader, and his future wife Athena, the warrior princess of the mighty Hypolitan. Perhaps one day, I’ll tell them.