A Hexham-born bestselling author has released a new children’s novel which tackles the issue of climate change.

The Wild Before, written by Piers Torday, is a prequel to the award-winning Last Wild trilogy.

A story of hope and friendship, it has been dubbed by Waterstones as ‘a stunning mix of folklore, adventure and environmental awareness’.

Piers said he was inspired to write another book on climate change and biodiversity by Greta Thunberg.

“When she appeared on the scene and so powerfully spoke truth to power, and she got millions of children marching around the globe, I realised I was not only inspired, but I kind of felt that I had to get back to the subject because it’s so pressing,” he said.

Piers, who now lives in London with his husband and dog, said that exploring topical issues in his writing is something that is really important to him.

“It’s great to read stories just for fun and stories don’t need to be about the issues of the day to be entertaining or have value, sometimes we just want to escape from our lives but for me, what motivates me is if I’m going to add another book to the huge pile of books out there, what is it? How does it earn its place?” he said.

“Also, I’m trying to make sense of these issues as much as everyone else and it’s my way of doing that.”

Piers added: “I also passionately believe that writing stories for children is such as privilege because their minds are developing and so you’re accessing them at a very influential moment and so all I’m trying to do is not tell them what to do, but to get them to think about all these issues and start to work out how they feel about them, and give them some of the tools to do that.”

Piers grew up in Hexham and his mother Jane converted the front room of their house in Hexham into a children’s bookshop, Toad Hall Bookshop.

“It was great for me because I would just sort of crawl around as a toddler on the floor of this bookshop and basically more like eating the books rather than reading them,” said Piers.

“So I literally grew up in a world full of books.”

Piers’ late father Paul was the author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and Piers completed his final unfinished novel, The Death of an Owl.

Piers is a former theatre and television producer.

“You learn so much about storytelling from helping other people tell their stories better, so it was kind of invaluable,” Piers, who lives in London with his husband and dog, said.

“And then I suddenly thought why not have a go at telling my own story?”

Having first had the initial idea for The Last Wild in 2002, Piers said his debut novel took him four years to write before it was published in 2013.

“I’m astonished that eight years later I still get these letters from kids,” said Piers.

“It obviously struck a chord and I hope it will continue to do as our planet changes.

“Anything that gets any child to care more about the environment in the world we live in is a privilege to be a part of.”

On educating children on climate change, Piers said: “I think schools are doing a great job but where stories can play their role is, I think children are often a bit more receptive to stories than they are to facts and warnings and news.

“We’re all working together but I know teachers are grateful sometimes to have the story as a way of engaging children and the issues they want to discuss.”

Piers added: “The worst thing you can do for children is to try and condescend to them and in effect lie to them because you’re worried about upsetting them.

“We mustn’t underestimate children.”

The Wild Before is out on August 19.