Exploring maternal love
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-
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Phillips writes about a mother protecting her son in a shooting incident.