The Jungle Room by Sue Howe
Mystery, magic and adventure with an ecological twist ~ a story of friendship, courage and finding your place.
Alfie is about to lose his whole world; the bulldozers have already moved in. Soon, he and his elderly neighbour, Mrs Bowtry, will have to leave their homes and the beautiful stretch of wilderness between them will be destroyed.
He could really do without having to spend time with Lucy, who has come to help Mrs Bowtry pack up her house. He barely knows her and finds talking to her difficult. But when they are drawn into the mystery surrounding Mr Bowtry’s disappearance and find themselves lost in a magical rainforest, their growing friendship will be key to their survival.
What really happened to Mr Bowtry when he went missing in the Amazon jungle, what did he discover there and could it be linked to a tragedy in Alfie’s past? As the rainforest gives up its secrets, they uncover the truth about Mr Bowtry’s discovery and face a deadly task to return it to its rightful place. But time is running out and there’s a murderer hot on their trail…
About the Author
Sue was born in London but moved to the Surrey countryside when she was small. She spent most of her childhood in a pair of muddy wellies surrounded by animals, and was the proud keeper of a mini-beast zoo in her back garden.
Reading stories filled with mystery and exploration has always been one of her favourite pastimes. She also loves dreaming up adventures of her own, often inspired by the nature she encounters whilst walking her dog.
Sue studied psychology and worked in care and education for several years. She has since slipped back into those muddy wellies and now works as a gardener, giving her plenty of time to dream up more adventures.
She lives in Somerset with her family and numerous pets, including a curly-haired tarantula named Brillo.
The Jungle Room by Susan Howe, introduced by Cathy Faulkner
The Jungle Room is a heart-warming story about friendship, the environment, finding your place and making a difference. Alfie, who struggles socially and whose home and local nature reserve are under threat from developers, forms an unlikely friendship with the confident Lucy, and this blossoms when they unexpectedly find themselves in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. They are quickly drawn into a perilous mission to return the tears of the Rainforest Guardians, stolen decades earlier. Exciting and full of adventure, The Jungle Room will appeal to fans of Katherine Rundell and all those who appreciate a sprinkling of magic. However, it is the evocative and lyrical descriptions of the natural world – both in the Amazon and closer to home – that make this a truly beautiful read.
What was your inspiration for this story?
A real mix of 19th century botanical wallpaper; explorers’ accounts of expeditions to the Amazon rainforest: exploitation of the region and the plight of the indigenous people there; growing up in the 1970s and the whole ‘fitting in’ with your peer group experience; a love of nature; a desire to place a character with social and communication difficulties at the heart of an adventure; and the power of true friendship.
What was your most memorable moment on the MA?
So many wonderful memories! Probably the most memorable moment was the reading event: standing in front of an audience and reading an extract of my story aloud – the nerves, the sense of achievement, and hearing the inspiring work of fellow students.
What is the most important thing you learned on the MA?
To think about my audience and the impact I would like my story to have.
What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
Setting off on that journey – the excitement of bringing a new story to life.
What do you like doing when you’re not writing?
Walking, gardening, being surrounded by nature and animals, visiting historical sites, and thinking about my writing!
What is your top piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Feel excited about your story, take constructive criticism on board, and keep writing. (That’s three, but they are all my top pieces of advice.)
What was your favourite book as a child?
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
What place in fiction do you most want to visit?
Rivendell in Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, followed by a roast dinner and a mug of chocolatl at the Trout Inn – Malcolm Polstead’s home in La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman.