Ratha's Courage - New Clare Bell Novel , Oct. 18, 2007 - Ratha and Clan July 17, 2007
Author photo
Ratha fireplace mosaic
Read Clan Ground Chapter One
Clan Ground Chapter One - Large Type
Did Ratha Really Exist
Did Ratha Exist - Large Type
Home (Large Type)
Read Ratha's Creature, Chapter One
Alzemann Cover for Clan Ground
Ratha's Creature Chapter One - Large Type

Ratha has a new website and her own domain name. Rathascourage.com is up and running, with art, a video clip and the author's 3-D animation. The video and animation work with Explorer.


The Named are also on MySpace.

Cover art from Firebird's re-issue of Ratha's Creature. Painting by Christian Alzemann, 2007


Amazon.com is listing the first two new reprints (Ratha and Clan) as available for pre-order. The actual release date is 07/19/2007.

Ratha and Thistle-Chaser are now listed as well. They are being released on 10/18/2007. Here are the links:

Ratha's Creature re-issue on Amazon

Clan Ground re-issue on Amazon

Ratha and Thistle-Chaser re-issue on Amazon

Ratha's Challenge re-issue on Amazon

The books are also on other sites, such as BookPeople, AllBookstores, Walmart and Target.


Welcome graphic

Hi Ratha fans!

This is Clare Bell (author) announcing that a new Ratha novel, Ratha's Courage, has been written, accepted and will appear in hardcover in Spring 2007.  The publisher is Viking Penguin and the line is Firebird Books. Firebird Editor Sharyn November encouraged me to write another Ratha, saying that a new novel of the Clan could push the others back into print. 
Firebird is also issuing the other Ratha books as paperbacks.  The Firebird editions of Ratha's Creature and Clan Ground will appear along with the new title. Ratha and Thistle-chaser  plus Ratha's Challenge will follow in Fall 2007.

Ratha, Fessran, Thakur, Thistle-chaser, Bira, Cherfan and the rest of the Named clan-cats are back, along with some intriguing new strangers. And don't forget the treelings (and the dapplebacks, three-horned deer, and other creatures in Ratha's world).

My thanks to Sharyn November and Firebird for giving a dream new life.Also to the dedicated readers who couldn't forget Ratha and the Named.

Firebird editor Sharyn November, known for her work with young adult readers

Announcement of Ratha's Courage on the Curtis agency website

Ratha looks at the award honoring her story
The International Reading Association's Childrens' Choice Award

The Series

RATHA'S CREATURE, Atheneum, Margaret K. McElderry, 1983. Winner (shared) 1983 IRA's Children's Choice Award.  Also on ALA Best Books for Young People, 1983. This first book in the series begins with young Ratha's discovery of "her creature" (fire). It introduces the clan of the Named, big puma- and cheetah-like cats who have a herding society, laws and leaders. It also depicts the UnNamed and Bone-chewer, Ratha's irreverent outlaw mate. 

CLAN GROUND Atheneum, Margaret K. McElderry, 1984. ALA Best Books for Young People, 1984. Explores the effect of "Ratha's Creature" on Ratha herself, a politically astute stranger, Orange Eyes, and the rest of the Named.

RATHA AND THISTLE-CHASER,  1990.  McMillan, Margaret K. McElderry, 1990   ALA Best Books for.Young People, 1990. Thistle-chaser is Ratha's crippled and abandoned daughter. When the two are brought together by the herding teacher, Thakur, both have to deal with the conflicts that forced them apart and discover those that could bring them together.

RATHA'S CHALLENGE, McMillan,. MKM  1992. When Ratha and the Named discover another band of cats with equal but differing intelligence, Ratha has to look beyond the needs of the clan in order to reach out to them.  Her daughter, Thistle-chaser, plays a critical role in the clan's decisions and actions.

RATHA'S COURAGE,  (forthcoming)  Viking-Penguin hardcover  Firebird 2007. After successfully dealing with the band of hunting cats and their leader, True-of-Voice introduced in "Challenge", Ratha is taken aback when the befriended tribe apparently turns and attacks the Named.  While struggling to find a reason and an answer to the mystery, Ratha discovers that courage isn't just about being brave in battle.  


A snarly Ratha, front view. Again, this a working sketch. Click to see notes,

This is the first time I've done a complete website.  Please let me know about any corrections, additions or suggestions to this page.

Fe-librarian, book lover and co-writer
Dannycat selects his choice from the literature

About the Author

Clare Bell
Photo by Chuck Piper


Born in England in 1952, I moved to the US with my family in 1957. I worked in oceanography, electrical engineering, test equipment design and mechanical engineering  before I wrote my first book, Ratha’s Creature (Atheneum-Argo Margaret K .McElderry 1983) , the story of a prehistoric wildcat who learns to tame fire. 
 Since then I have continued to write fantasy and science fiction for children and adults.  I continue to be fascinated by big cats, as showcased in Tomorrow’s Sphinx (cheetahs in Tutanhkmen's Eygypt) and  Jaguar Princess (were-jaguars in Aztec and Olmec Mexico). 
 My stories tend to show sociological themes as well, exploring the changes that are brought about in culture through  technology.  I also enjoy creating plausible and workable alien critters ( the aronan fliers in  People of the Sky). The central theme of my fiction is evolution,  having been influenced early by the works of  C.S. Lewis, Olaf Stapledon , and Arthur C. Clarke.
I have degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering, biology and chemistry and have continued  working in technical areas in addition to writing fiction.  I became involved in building and designing electric vehicles and spent a year in Norway working on a production EV. 
 After moving to a remote site in California’s coastal mountains, I and my partner put together our own solar and wind systems and experimented with a power-generating waterwheel. A naturalized citizen of the US, I now live with my partner-become-husband, Chuck Piper, in the hills west of Patterson, California.
Other Titles

Tomorrow’s Sphinx (MKM Atheneum-Argo 1986)
Jaguar Princess  (TOR 199) 
People of  the Sky (TOR 199)
On Me and Writing
If one were to describe two passions that were exact opposites,  they would be science fiction/fantasy writing and electrical/mechanical engineering. Any woman who was both would be a walking contradiction in terms, or at least a bit mad, but somehow  I’ve found my way along this strange and sometimes difficult path.  What they both have in common is  the need to explore, and imagine; to ask the question “what if …” and the patience, persistence and courage to build a possible answer.  It may not be the best, or even terribly good, but for me, it must be honest.
Honesty means sticking to the premise of such an answer, exploring and evaluating its effects, even if the results lead away from more comfortable trails onto unfamiliar or even treacherous ground.  Many writers use a human level of intelligence in their animal creations,  but don’t explore what sentience really means given the limitations of animal bodies and instincts. (That is not a reflection on the quality of their work. They just have different priorities and interests. Which is fine, since that leaves open territory for me.)
A “what-if” on the engineering side,  namely,  “What if more people drove electric vehicles?” led to a more specific, “What if I drove an electric vehicle?” led me to building an electric VW bug from a kit, racing a converted electric 914 Porsche and working professionally in the field.  It was fascinating, frustrating and ultimately heartbreaking (the vehicles didn’t fail me but some people and companies did).
The Ratha books came from  my  fascination with big cats (pumas, lions, cheetahs etc.) plus the question “What if a prehistoric big cat  evolved high intelligence and consciousness, yet retained the animal form and instincts? What kind of society would they develop?”  The answer leaped into my brain at 2AM (in the late 1970’s) in the shape of Ratha and her people, the Named, a society of sentient big cats who domesticated their former prey and now live by herding.
Combined with a lot of encouragement by now -SF Grandmaster, Andre Norton and her publisher, the wonderful Margaret K. MacElderry,  The  result was Ratha’s Creature (MKM Atheneum-Argo 1983)
Asking “How would Ratha’s instincts conflict or enhance her intelligence?” and “How would the technology of fire affect them ?” led to the sequel Clan Ground  (MKM  Atheneum-Argo  1984
Not that these were pure intellectual exercises -- once the premise was set up, passion, life-experience, play, and Ratha herself took over, galloping the story along.
Tomorrow’s Sphinx began as an attempt to look through the eyes and get  inside the body of  that amazing bio-speed machine, the cheetah. Jaguar Princess was a what-if  about were-jaguars and Aztec-Mayan-Olmec cultures.
Attempting honesty in developing and writing is not an immediate recipe for popularity.  The Ratha books drew high praise from reviewers, along with awards and honors, but the words  “challenging” or “for very special readers” made me wonder if I had aimed too high or gone too far off-trail for general appeal. Perhaps.
 However this quality made the books endure even though they went out of print in the 1990’s despite attempts to have them reprinted. .Circulating in used copies between dedicated readers, being passed down from mothers to their children, appearing and being reviewed on the Internet and even inspiring some role-playing sites, they refused to disappear.
 I would like to think that Ratha had some influence in bringing about the current upsurge of cat fantasy (Warriors, etc.)
The truth is that the climate and the market just weren’t right for Ratha in the early and mid 1980s. To use a hoary old cliché, the books were ahead of their time.  Even I lost faith and went on to other things. But the readers never forgot. They kept Ratha and the Named alive. It was they who coaxed, pleaded and pushed.
As I read the Amazon.com reader reviews, one phrase was repeated over and over, “why are these books out of print?” 
It was a young reader-advisor to Viking-Penguin’s editor Sharyn November who asked the same question and tipped the balance. Sharyn contacted me, said that a new Ratha novel could kick the others into reprints, and the ultimate result was Ratha’s Courage, due out Spring 2007 as a Firebird hardcover and Ratha’s Creature and Clan Ground as Firebird trade paperbacks.  Ratha and Thistle-chaser and Ratha’s Challenge will appear in Fall of the same year. 
Twenty-odd years is a long time to wait in the wings, but Ratha, Thakur, Thistle,  Fessran, Bira, and the rest of the Named gang will be back. My thanks goes out to all those dedicated souls who kept believing in them.
Clare Bell

Feline co-authors, consultants and conspirators for Ratha‘s Courage
Kodo - neutered medium longhair - 12yrs plus and still going strong. Gets positively ecstatic about being brushed.
Athena - silver-gray, rescued from the animal shelter as a tiny kitten, now nearly 2yrs. She’s a ClickerCat in training. (Clicker-training is a new method of operant conditioning training developed by Karen Pryor)
Creek Kitty - gray and orange, semi-wild but affectionate shorthair who came to me to have her kittens (all six of them!  Scrunch, J.J., Spook, Tachyon, Danny Jr., and Wraith.)
Danny - Personable and elegant young  medium longhaired gangly adolescent male orange tabby, who, despite being trapped atop a garbage can lid by two cocker spaniels, has the sweetest easy-going disposition of any cat I’ve had. Managed to father Creek Kitty’s litter before he was swept up and neutered.


Thistle-chaser look-alike kitty. Her real name is J.J.

Favorite Links

Amazon.com's customer reviews of Ratha's Creature. See why readers want it back in print.

Clan Ground of the Named is a role-playing site that has kept the characters alive and helped inspire me to write a new book

You can read the first chapter of Ratha's Creature. Click here.


Don't forget the treelings!
back cover of Clan Ground
Thakur and his treeling Aree (back cover of Clan Ground, art by Michelle Chessare).

I began writing as a teen-ager. In my twenties I published stories in fanzines. The first book in the Ratha series, Ratha's Creature, was published in 1983 and won an International Reading Association's Children's Choice Award for that year.

Back cover of the English (Gollancz) hardcover of Ratha's Creature

Two editions of Clan Ground. American on left, British on right

Cover art from Ratha's Challenge. The same artist also did the cover for Tomorrow's Sphinx

Want to get in touch? You can send me e-mail at: