Ex­plor­ing ma­ter­nal love

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Reads - By OLIVIA HO

WHEN her son was four, Amer­i­can au­thor Gin Phillips spent an in­or­di­nate amount of time with him at the zoo.

While ob­serv­ing the gi­raffes at their lo­cal zoo in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama in the United States, for what seemed like the 4,000th time, she be­gan to won­der what she would do if her worst night­mare came to pass there: gun­men break­ing in and threat­en­ing the life of her son.

In her new psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller Fierce King­dom (Vik­ing), a woman and her young son have to sur­vive a mass shoot­ing at the zoo by men who think noth­ing of gun­ning down an­i­mals and hu­mans alike.

Phillips, 42, says over the tele­phone from London, where she is on a book tour: “I wanted to set a whole novel around moth­er­hood, look­ing at the re­la­tion­ship be­tween mother and son in the most in­tense sit­u­a­tion pos­si­ble.”

Her son is now six and she also has two stepchil­dren aged 19 and 15.

Fierce King­dom is her fifth novel and un­like any­thing she has writ­ten be­fore. Her pre­vi­ous work has of­ten looked back through time – her 2009 de­but, The Well And The Mine, was about coal min­ers in 1930s Alabama, while in Come In And Cover Me (2012), an ar­chae­ol­o­gist is able to see the ghost of a 12th-cen­tury pot­ter at a New Mex­ico dig site.

In con­trast, Fierce King­dom un­folds in the space of three hours, as des­per­ate mother Joan and her four-year-old son Lin­coln hide in the zoo, try­ing to es­cape the shoot­ers.

Split-sec­ond de­ci­sions could save or en­dan-


Photo: RYANE RICE/gin­phillips.com

Phillips writes about a mother pro­tect­ing her son in a shoot­ing in­ci­dent.

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