The Origins Of Grace

The Mariner Giveaway is now over and I’d like to thank everyone who took part. We managed to get down to #28 in the UK Horror chart, and #4 in the US Sea Adventures. The Mariner is once again for sale on and

Jemma the Vicious

I have recently been asked about the origins of Grace, the Tasmanian devil that features prominently in the The Mariner. It was suggested that she was an incarnation of Jemma, my late West Highland White Terrier. Like Grace tormenting the Mariner, Jemma would dominate those who got in her way; snapping, growling and berating any who opposed her. I suppose this curious mix of sadism and companionship did filter into the fictional Tasmanian devil, though it was entirely subconscious.

In actual fact the Tasmanian Grace was inspired by an actual Tasmanian devil. I witnessed this belligerent beast in the healesville sanctuary in Australia. Impatient and grumpy, little Grace would first “Arf!” and then bellow for her food, savage the boot of the handler and generally bully any male that shared her vicinity. As you can imagine, I was infatuated from the start.

Tasmanian devils are in terrible danger of extinction due to facial tumours and destruction of habitat. Action needs to be taken asap to protect this charming species. For more information please visit:

Grace the Tasmanian Devil, photo by Christopher Hayes

Saving Grace

Some good news has broken in Tasmania for the endangered Tasmanian Devil (one of Ade Grant’s favourite animals, featuring prominently in his Marina Saga). Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) have claimed to have cracked the code of the deadly contagious facial cancer that is threatening the entire species. It spreads by the little Devils biting each other on the face (something they do during mating) and then disfigures them so badly they cannot eat and starve to death.

While we are still far from a cure, the disease is now easily diagnosable, so ‘clean’ colonies can be started to try and protect this wonderful species. This is a tiny ray of hope for a creature that’s status was recently upgraded from vulnerable to endangered and is predicted to be extinct in the wild within 30 to 50 years.

As if to counter this positive news, Sweden is about to cull its wolf population. The Swedish government believes that 180-220 wolves is too many for their country to support and 27 need to be shot. Thrilled to finally have the chance to kill such a beautiful animal 10,000 hunters are planning on stomping out into the wilderness, gun in hand.

Now, if Sweden can sustain a human population of 9.2 million, then surely it can handle a few hundred wolves? Isn’t it this enormous primate colony that needs to be restricted, rather than a rather small collection of rare beasts? It’s hypocrisy and genetic selfishness on a grand scale, something which humans are rather too adept to be.

Still, despite the sad news from Sweden, things are looking up for the Tazzy Devil. If you would like to help Grace’s kin please visit: