Clare Bell (born 1952) is an author in the U.S. best known for her Ratha series of young adult fantasy novels about prehistoric big cats. These books, also called the Named series, are about intelligent self-aware large cats who have puma, cheetah and lion characteristics, and are based on fossil creatures who are ancestors of the saber-tooth cat.
The first book in the series, Ratha’s Creature, appeared in 1983. The flap copy on the paperback re-issue of Clan Ground (the second book in the series which appeared in 1984) states that Bell:
is a scientist, engineer, and author whose work has taken her to Norway to build electric cars, to Tahiti for research, to Marine World/Africa USA to meet a cheetah and into the depths of prehistory to develop the Ratha series… The author blends science and fantastic projection in her depiction of the Named — cheetah-like cats with an organized society.
Readers who followed Erin Hunter’s Warriors series about feral cats have gone on to read the Ratha series.
Sheila Ruth of Imaginator Press (www.imaginatorpress.com) is re-releasing the series in trade paperback format, with new covers, interior re-design and careful copy-editing to remove any typos. The most recent re-issue is Ratha and Thistle-chaser, (www.imaginatorpress.com/node/28)
Bell’s love for big cats is also expressed in Tomorrow’s Sphinx (about cheetahs in past and future Egypt) and The Jaguar Princess (a were-jaguar woman in Aztec Mexico). Bell is also fascinated with flight, becoming a student pilot in Cessna 150 aircraft and writing People of the Sky about Pueblo Indians who migrate from Earth to another planet and learn to ride winged aliens. She also talked her way aboard an old DC-3 airliner and sat in the pilot’s seat. Bell’s short stories have appeared in the Witch World and CatFantastic (cats and magic) anthologies, both edited by science fiction and fantasy writer, Andre Norton.
Recently Bell composed “Ratha’s Island,” an experimental novelette written specifically for the Twitter microblogging service, which intentionally limits posts to 140 characters or less so that they can be read on cellphones and other portable wireless devices. Ratha’s Island is an early entry into the area of Y/A Twitter fiction and has been well received. It is similar to the phenomenon of cellphone novels which are popular in Japan .
The piece ran on Twitter beginning on March 14, 2009 and ending on May 9, with blocks of 5-10 Tweets, appearing twice daily during that time. Ratha’s Island also explored the possibilities of alternative evolution in hexapodal (six-legged) as opposed to quadripedal (four-legged) prehistoric mammals that evolved on an isolated island. Read it online at forum.rathascourage.com/index.php?showtopic=156.
For more detailed information, series history, and bibliography, please see:
Wikipedia entry: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clare_Bell