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Justin Anderson

Writer’s Biography

I began nature writing for children when my own kids suggested I create a book about snow leopards. I wrote the book at the kitchen table, occasionally drinking cups of Indian chai or lemon and ginger tea to remind me of being in Ladakh, where the story is set. My day job is making wildlife films for the BBC among others, where I have been fortunate enough to write documentary scripts for my hero Sir David Attenborough. As part of my job, I am very lucky to get to travel to all sorts of amazing places and come face to face with some of our planet’s most incredible wildlife. I have lived for a month in a giant pile of bat poo, made friends with a whale and been stalked by a hungry polar bear. These adventures have given me plenty of inspiration to reveal untold and unusual animal stories. My passion has always been teaching kids about the wonders of the natural world and for my first book, Snow Leopards – Grey Ghost of the Mountains (Illustrated by Patrick Benson), I have been busy visiting local schools, Brownie groups etc. to try and bring some of the magic of these beautiful creatures into the classroom. It’s been great fun challenging them to “spot the snow leopard”, “out jump” a big cat and learn why snow leopards all wee in the same place! I like my stories to be full of fun and wonder but to have a strong environmental message too, giving children the knowledge that they need to take steps to help protect endangered animals. My next book for Walker is soon to be released: Narwhal – The Arctic Unicorn (Illustrated by Jo Weaver) followed by Super Swift – A Small Bird with Amazing Super Powers (Illustrated by Clover Robin) I always loved animals from a very young age. My grandfather used to show me the slow worms in the back of his garden and I was hooked. I received a huge encyclopaedia of animals for my ninth birthday and memorised every page. I have always had a special interest in big cats – after a family trip to Windsor safari park and an especially close encounter with a huge Siberian tiger that came and peered through the back window of our family mini (the original tiny 1970s model) looming over us, just the other side of the glass. It left quite an impression on me! I am married to a wonderful Irish lady who has introduced me to the wild and spectacular west coast of Ireland, my new favourite place. I have two children who both love animals too. My son wants to be a conservationist when he is older and my daughter is great at art and playing football. We live in the city of Bristol but take every opportunity to escape to the surrounding countryside.

Ten things you didn’t know about Justin Anderson

  1. My 9-year-old son knows more than me about animals, he has watched every episode of Steve Backshall’s Deadly Sixty at least 100 times!
  2. I once threw a rotten tomato at Jeremy Clarkson, during the “La Tomartina” mass tomato fighting festival in Spain.
  3. On Saturday mornings I get up first and make eggs and bacon for my wife and two children. It’s my favourite time of the week.
  4. I love to play football with my daughter. She is getting very good at it…
  5. I once spent ten days over a kilometre underground during a caving expedition. It was such a pristine cave that as part of the rules to explore there, I had to poo in a bag.
  6. I can say “Good morning” and “Thank you” in Irish (well sort of).
  7. I am a massive Liverpool supporter and my favourite player is Mo Salah.
  8. The most amazing thing I have ever seen is the northern lights and I am hoping to write about them in my next book.
  9. I have never stroked a snow leopard, but I do have a piece of their poo that I brought back with me from Ladakh. My wife makes me keep it in the garden shed.
  10. In winter, if I can, I love to go climbing in Scotland.

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