Hopefully, you already know that Jaspa is a very, very distant relative of a giraffe. As mentioned in a previous blog, to avoid the obvious question, “What’s a giraffe-like creature doing in… [insert place name here]”, I realised early on that the first Jaspa’s Journey book needed to be set somewhere real giraffes live. From that moment, the Serengeti was the obvious only choice.
And once that easy decision was made, half the plot wrote itself.
The annual wildebeest Great Migration around the Serengeti (extending up into the Maasai Mara) is a truly incredible natural phenomenon. When the rains fail, over 2 million wildebeest, antelope and zebra are forced to embark on a gruelling, 800 km (500 mile) slog for survival. Their route takes them in an enormous loop through the region, passing all sorts of fascinating locations along the way.
For the first Jaspa’s Journey book, which I named after the Great Migration, of course, I relied heavily on the places through which the migration passes to provide inspiration for Jaspa’s adventures. I drew from the locations themselves, their environments, the animals that live in that particular area, and so on. Once I had these fixed points along the route, it was a matter of coming up with a storyline to string them all together… and to explain why and how Jaspa was travelling with the wildebeest.
The result was a mixture of reality and fiction, which has become the trademark of the Jaspa’s Journey series. I hope you and your middle grade readers enjoy reading The Great Migration and the other Jaspa’s Journey books as much as I enjoy researching and writing them!
The above post is taken from this month’s Fiction Meets Fact Newsletter. To receive future newsletters in their entirety (together with a Free Jaspa’s Journey Booklet including the short story Freefall over London and Jaspa’s Journey images to colour), click on the image below.
Expand the minds of your strong middle grade readers by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first four – The Great Migration, The Pride of London, Jaspa’s Waterloo, and The Hermit of Kennecott – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.