Jane Wilson-Howarth is a physician with qualifications in zoology and parasite biology, who loves animals, wild places, and cycling. She lived in Nepal for six years and speaks Nepali - but not very well. "My passion for wildlife began early. I used to smuggle roadkill into the house despite my mother’s preference for flowers. A fascination with nature started with pond-dipping; while other girls were experimenting with makeup and exploring the impact on the boys of rolling up the waistbands of their skirts to show more leg, I was nerdily nose-down in our garden pond, learning about reproductive behaviour in minuscule cyclops and water-fleas. This interest grew and blossomed through fossil collecting and hamster breeding. In between times I swam a great deal and learned to sail. My ecological passion persisted and I signed up to study zoology in Plymouth. This was a perfect place for me because of the proximity of the sea, various rivers and the wilds of Dartmoor. I learned to SCUBA dive from Plymouth Hoe and even did some sub-aquatic ecological surveys. I indulged in all possible water sports, including white-water canoeing and cave diving. One summer while still an undergraduate, I joined a big ecological team cataloguing the flora and fauna of Shetland; I 'did' the invertebrates.
"After graduating, I organised an overland trip to Nepal. That first expedition provided my first astonishing glimpses of sub-tropical wildlife which made me enthusiastic about sharing the wonders of the natural world with others. Some authors have always known they would write, but that desire has rather crept up on me. My dyslexia made me reticent. I was a late starter and it was a long time before I developed the confidence to write for people outside my circle of family and friends.
"Travel gave me a particular loathing of leeches and parasites, as well as an indignation about inequality of access to health care. Ultimately this pushed me towards becoming medically qualified. My blundering language forays have made me privy to a wealth of fascinating cultural material some of which appears in my writing particularly on Nepal. Himalayan Kidnap is my seventh book and the third to be set in Nepal. For the moment I live in East Anglia and work as a general practitioner and lecturer in travel and global health. I plan to return to work in Nepal soon."
I am often asked what pets I have. The answer is a four-year-old grey dwarf rabbit called Gandalf, and some stick insects.
Here’s a fragment from Himalayan Kidnap:
Then something really weird happened. I felt suddenly unsteady on my feet. There was a strange feeling in my guts like someone was wobbling my belly but from the inside. Then it felt like something had grabbed hold of the ground and was pulling it bad-temperedly back and forward. It made me stagger. James almost fell, but then recovered and said, “Wicked – an earthquake!”
The tea-shop owner lunged out through her tiny doorway and stood well clear of her house. The back-and-forward motion didn’t go on for long but it clearly frightened her. She seemed to be mumbling prayers and was frantically looking around at the hillsides and the mountain ridges, checking, I guess, for landslides and rockfalls.
Click here for Jane’s blog
Writing Adventure Stories for Children August 2, 2016