Monday 15 January 2024

Georgina Wright tells me about her recently released book, Navaselva, The Call of the Wild Valley

So, why did you decide that this book was for a young adult reader? Or did you write for that reader on purpose?

When the first lines and chapter about the weasel came into my mind, I knew that the writing could not be an animal story for primary age children to read themselves but one that would hopefully appeal to an able and older readership with an emphasis on exploring the challenges facing our natural world. I wanted an authentic voice for nature and to reach out to as many readers as possible. There are many books for adults which focus on dogs and cats so why not wild animals? I was happy with a 10 to 100yrs age range but the publishing market seems to frown on this. I also thought it might be a book parents and teachers can read aloud and discuss so that differing abilities and maturities can be included. I have spent a long time teaching secondary age students, so these experiences shaped my writing too but not on purpose. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I was more driven to write the book that was inspiring me than consider as I had to do later the publishing industry. Feedback finally led me to introducing the human narrative and the themes I explore suit an age and maturity where there can be a reflection about adolescence, becoming a young adult and the realities we face in the 21st century.

At the time I began Navaselva, there was little mention of nature in crisis or the Friday school strikes. I wanted a different approach to documentary or factual nature writing and I also wanted to challenge myself to write a novel. In some ways the novel wrote itself as the journey of the animal characters took flight. Navaselva has a mix of factual, ecological background and an attempt at empathy through identification with fictional characters. The language and style I loved experimenting with has a basis in my love of poetry, expressing different perspectives and lyrical so that the beauty of nature can be described.



Tell us a little about Navaselva.

Navaselva is an imagined wild valley, a sanctuary for a wide range of biodiversity of the animal and plant kingdom. It has a magical or mystical quality as there is deep communication between the different species and a telling of stories to help all to adapt and survive. At Navaselva, when the messenger birds arrive from Africa in the Spring there is a call for the Meetings of the Many. I decided on this concept as a way to give nature with its many different species a voice. Maybe this is the allegory insight into ways of cooperation and coexistence between all species.

Navaselva is based on my experiences of living in a ‘not so wild’ valley in southern Spain. There is rich biodiversity in these regions but I also became aware of how much was at risk. My nature blog has reflected on my own personal nature journey living there and I try and write at least every month.


How easy – or hard – was it to get into the point of view of the animals?

When I was teaching, I had a series of lessons planned on narrative voice within an   ’Animals and Nature’ project. We used examples from Black Beauty for first person and White Fang for third person. Students were then able to research some wild animals of their own choice and use the factual information as a base for some story writing. In many ways this is how I researched the animals and characters I was planning to use in Navaselva. I thoroughly enjoyed the knowledge I gained from this too.  I then had to decide on third person. I went for omniscient narrator first but with some more feedback and a desire to not have such a detached approach I tried to be closely within the mind of each of the main characters but not ‘head hop’!  This gave rise to alternative chapters. This latter technique means there are three different narrative strands in Part One and Two which does add to complexity but I could not lose any of the strands now and all interlinked so much.

One thing I really did not want was ‘talking animals’ or anthropomorphise/humanise them too much. I consider the animal world to have consciousness, feelings, awareness. We sense our pets have feelings and there must be a sense of belonging either to place, offspring, group. So, I felt I could allow for some degree of emotional responses, even perhaps the guilt the weasel has about his role in the fate of the last Navaselva turtle dove. For all of us as animals our sense of purpose must be to find the best ways to adapt and survive.

It was difficult to try and work out how to make the animal world with all its senses that are beyond our understanding accessible to readers. How many smells can there be? And what stories do the smells tell? I avoided aspects of this but tried to keep a multi-sensory element.

However, I did try and create descriptions of ordinary objects in our world into ways birds might see the world. From an RSPB article it was suggested birds might see our houses as rocks and so I extended this and thought of ways to explain certain other features. At times this might create a puzzle which I hope does become clearer as the reader continues.


I know you blog about the concerns raised in the book and of course, we’ve serialised it. What sort of reaction have you had to this?

I have had some very positive comments and thoughtful response both on the Bridge House taster blog in May and from followers on my own blog who also started reading the instalments. All mainly adults who liked the themes and use of language. One did comment that they would have liked more dialogue between the animals.

July | 2023 | NavasolaNature (

Most interesting and enjoyable Georgina, I am looking forward to part 2. It’s a theme I have been meditating on a lot recently: everything is alive and we are all related. Denzil’s Nature Challenge Introducing the Nature Photo Challenge – Denzil Nature

I’ve just finished the first chapter and I was totally transported to Andalusia and the wonder of the natural world. Your writing is magical, lyrical and at times wistful. The story flows seamlessly and it is inspired to use a human narrator as well as those of the animal kingdom. Jay Ro is a terrific character and you’ve quickly captured her thoughts, emotions, inner turmoil – and through her introduced the landscape and area perfectly. I loved the section of the weasel; a strong sense of personality comes through as well as introducing the dichotomy of what used to be and what is now! Annika Perry ABOUT ME – Annika Perry

Andrea StephensonJune 18, 2023 at 9:01 PM

Still enjoying reading this Georgina. It reads like an old folk tale, with resonant language and lyrical imagery. I fully believe in the animals and their thoughts. When I was a teenager, I was passionate about animal rights and I think this would speak to any teen who has a love of animals.


Have you held any interesting events around the book or do you have any planned?

A friend once involved in publishing invited family and friends to a Manchester based launch in December where I did some readings and had some interesting discussions about nature and creating the animal characters. I realised that my book gives opportunities to have conversations about the nature crisis and seemed to encourage people to explore and support nature in their own areas.

I hope to have some events in libraries and schools. Perhaps I can even venture into some of the places in my book like the Wildlife and Wetlands Centres. We may even try a Zoom launch while I am still in the place in Spain that inspired Navaselva.


Tell us a little about the process of writing this book.

The book or first chapter began as a short story which I sent off to a Dutch group with a name ‘The Parliament of All Things. I had created the concept of the Meetings of the Many to give a voice to as many species plant and animal as possible through their reports and story-telling when the Messenger birds arrive from Africa. This is the mythical/folk tale element of the book but allows for me to return to the importance of interdependence and well -functioning ecosystems and establish a purpose for the journey of the weasel.

The next key element was the journey and plot and involved exploring some of the wilder places in western Europe but also the not so wild ones but where it is important for us to adopt a nature friendly approach to farm land and green spaces within our cities. Some of the places visited are ones I know well such as along the Thames in London, the WWT wetlands, Kew Gardens and Minet Country Park. Others are the mountainous places in the north of Spain where there are still wolves and bears and forests in France with a wide range of birds.

I made a decision to include a human narrator after some discussions on my opening chapters with an American editor. I was then fortunate to find Debz Hobbs Wyatt whose background was in ecology and creative writing. The aim then was to halve the animal character’s journey, create chapters about Jay Ro, a young woman of about 20 and her family and friends that link into the narrative of the wild animal journey. This allowed for the book to have a more specific target audience of young adults and be about 80.000 words. So, I already have a sequel which follows up on the first novel and explores more of the north west of the UK and Europe with a possible return to Navaselva. 


Have you any more projects planned?

I am hoping to review the sequel in the light of the first book now being in print and add some finishing touches and possibly updates as both novels do have a basis in contemporary realities and there are more insights and research into the intelligence of different species e.g. octopuses. (A new fiction published by Bloomsbury has an octopus point of view within the main plot.) My sequel does venture out into the ocean and I will check how this still reads as I have been involved in a Green Party research group into Marine and Coastal issues. In the longer term I could then continue with my ideas of two more books based on the Navaselva concept but exploring the East and the New World. The Navaselva Quartet would be an exploration of wild animal characters, places and issues around the globe.

I have some short stories for younger children in my mind as my grandchildren are very young and I have some written based on wild species at Navaselva which appear briefly in the novel – the genet and the two tailed pasha butterfly and the story of Ossie, the ocellated lizard.

I venture into poetry often for fun and without the seriousness of aiming for publication but I might try to create a nature poetry anthology with others.

I have notes/fragments of observations from my ten years in the Sierra Aracena and so could write a part memoir with nature writing and exploration of different practices that help create inner peace such as TM and Quaker meetings involving experiences of deep meditation and silence. Dealing with renovating and rebuilding a house in Spain in a Natural Park, no mains electricity, water, Spanish builders and bureaucracy, has all been a challenge that has needed some degree of resilience and humour. However, I also think I have found great joy in exploring more and more of the world of nature outside, and this has given me a sense of wonder and purpose to support ways for this biodiversity to be protected and restored.

I hope my characters’ voices can be read widely, listened to, enjoyed and help us understand how to protect wild nature.


 Find your copy here 


Care to join us on 22 February 2024 when we Georgina tells us more about the book, her writing process and where she will discuss some of the issues raised: 


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