Man vs Nature / Savage Land

How I’m Doing on Book One of Savage Land–1

Neanderthals are arguably the most maligned, misunderstood humans in the history of mankind. I am excited to set that straight in my next trilogy, Savage Land–share with you why you will be proud to call them kin.

Their world in decline with one chance to save it.

Nature had a plan to wipe Man from her planet. She didn’t count on the Neanderthals. 

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Modern man is 2-4% Neanderthal (depending upon where we live) with over 30% of their essence spread throughout ours. Makes you wonder what they were like? Were they hard-working, the type you’re proud to call family or that embarrassing Uncle you try to avoid at family gatherings?

About 75,000 years ago, Indonesia’s Mount Toba erupted and man–Neanderthals and all other Homo species–almost disappeared from the face of the earth. If you’ve heard of the Year without a Summer (in the 1800’s), this was worse. If Neanderthals were the dullard caveman history makes them out to be, Mount Toba’s devastation of their critical habitats might have been their demise. But they weren’t–dull cavemen. They were smart, clever, and resilient.

Join me in this three-book fictional exploration of Neanderthals. Be ready for a world nothing like what you thought it would be, filled with clever minds, brilliant acts, and innovative solutions to life-ending problems, all based on real events. At the end of this trilogy, you’ll be proud to call Neanderthals family.

Here’s what I did the past month:

  • Picked my jaw up off the floor: Neanderthals were nothing like what I thought. Rather than doltish ancestors I wanted to hide in the attack, they are worthy kin, strong, competent, smart, clever problem solvers. As Rebecca Wragg Sykes says in Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art:

…they cast a net of presence, action, intention across land… Theirs were minds that looked out to the horizon and knew it intimately: how the paths changed in spring, when the fords would fill and perhaps even how many sunrises until the great cliffs came into view… 

  • So much interesting about man’s evolution at this time in prehistory.
  • And mysteries! To the surprise of those who study early man, Neanderthals–creatures we thought had no sense of art or culture–left geometric symbols on cave walls and not just random symbols–the same 32 throughout Europe. What does that mean? I’ll give you some ideas in the book.
  • The crisis that drives Neanderthals out of SE Asia (in my story) is the Toba Eruption. When Toba erupted, it sent enough soot and ash into the atmosphere to turn summer to winter, the sound circumnavigated the Earth three times, and everything our ancestors knew changed. I had thought that would be the story, but I was wrong. 
  • I learned to make a two-four-hole flute/clarinet–because Neanderthals made them! Music was another skill scientists never thought them capable of. I watched a lot of YT videos on this.
  • Research in human evolution often includes sentences like: “the main ontogenetic mechanism to attain an exceptionally high degree of encephalization during adulthood”. What?? I Googled it… scratched my head… walked in a circle… drank a Red Bull–Got it. Neanderthal children matured at about a modern human rate. That’s important so my story portrays the children correctly.
  • I watched hours (and hours) of natural survival videos, how people live off the land despite no technology. Some of these YouTubers enter the wild with nothing more than a knife. This is perfect for my research because Neanderthals  were hunter-gatherers, pre-farming, pre-industrial. Well, turns out there is huge interest in survival skills. YouTube has a ton of videos on survivalists doing exactly this, others spending months (or longer) with primitive tribes (mostly in Africa or the Amazon rainforest). The videos have millions of viewers! Often, 10-15 million! Who knew?
  • It struck me these viewers are the type of folk who would love my book. Now how to reach them.
  • I love words–I’m a bibliophile at heart. One word on my long list of favorites is ‘quotidian’. I’ve never run across it in my reading until now, in Rebecca Wragg Sykes consummately readable book on Neanderthals:

“…composite tools were far more quotidian than the rarity of their archaeological traces would lead us to believe.”

What a great day!

  • I’m considering a BookFunnel Group Promo or Author Swap. Any insights for me?

That’s it for now! How’s your writing going?

Copyright ©2022 – All rights reserved.

–image photo credit Deposit Photos

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Savage Land Winter 2024.


87 thoughts on “How I’m Doing on Book One of Savage Land–1

  1. Through reading your books, Jacqui, I’ve learned not to underestimate any of our ancestors. I can tell that you’re excited about your research. It’s jumping off the page (the laptop really). I can’t wait for this next series. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I often wonder if they’d find it easier to survive in our time than we would in theirs. I think I’d be dead within a day. 🙂 You have amazing commitment and drive, Jacqui! All the best with the next adventure!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t think I know anything about Neanderthals except where they are placed on the human evolution drawing. I’ve learned quite a bit just from today’s post! As for how my writing is going, I’m doing the more tedious work prior to revision. (Recording the age of each character in each chapter, making sure secondary and incidental characters all have names, etc.)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I am very much looking forward to this series. I did the 23andMe test and I was in the 99 percentile with respect to Neanderthal genes, in other words unusually many. They even have a club for that, which I checked out but decided not to join. The people there seemed to be kind of dumb. But seriously, Neanderthals were indeed smart and very capable. I read in very good book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari that Homo Homo Sapiens were probably responsible for the extinction of Neanderthals but that it was our ability to get very large groups (thousands) to cooperate by creating myths and stories to form a common bond around that gave us an edge. Basically our penchant for believing BS gave us an advantage, well maybe not exactly. What he was saying was that without a myth to attract people to it is only possible to get 100-150 people to cooperate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well you can be proud of yourself for that. Neanderthals were innovative, clever, and never ever quit something they started. I am having a ball writing their story.

      I have read that modern man’s ability to cooperate and work in groups helped us take over and think I agree. I think we just absorbed Neanderthals, mated with them so much and took them into our tribes that they lost their culture. Not a bad thing, just progress.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Quotidian… never seen or heard that one before either. Thanks for a new word for the day! I’m also highly interested in those octagonal artworks you mentioned. It hooked me to want to read the new books, as you doubtless intended. 😀
    Also, I would expect since so many survivalist are avid YT watchers that you might reach them through a YT video presenting some of the survivalist techniques that will be in your books. Tag them so they can find them and you’ve got them… right? Good luck! Great idea for broadening your audience. I agree they’d be likely to love your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Aha, you are seriously in the research stage, which you love! It sure sounds like you hunted and gathered a lot of information already. 🙂

    Let the proces and progress of the trilogy continue. I can sense your joy about everything you are reading and learning!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow, I learned a lot here! I never knew they played instruments. The eruption in what’s now Indonesia would have been really disturbing for them, especially if they didn’t see it. Have you read Simon Winchester’s “The Day the Earth Exploded” about the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa? It was after telegraph wires circled the globe, but weather stations around the world experienced it first as pressure waves messed with their barometers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is beyond fascinating, Jacqui. I will be looking up the Toba Eruption today so I can learn more about it. 😀 I was delighted also to see the two-four-hole flute/clarinet was a link. I can’t wait to watch that video, too.

    Your research is epic, and I can’t wait to see how you bring it all together in your series.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your new series on early man sounds fascinating. Wow doing the research looks like fun. I have been doing Book Funnel for a few years. I have joined many promotions to giveaway either chapters or full books. I like doing them because they can bring in lists of people with emails and contact information. I suggest you join a Book Funnel book event with a book from your previous series. There are many promotions going on all the time. See how it works. I have promoted both my fiction and non-fiction using other people’s promotions. If your book entry is chosen as one in the book event then you will be asked to pick a day when you will promote the series. You will be given a link to share on social media. At the end of the promotion, you receive a list in Exel of people who downloaded your book. There will be a report on how many clicks you received. The more clicks you receive the more people will be interested in having you as part of their promotion in the future. You can use the list for emails and your newsletter. I have about six hundred names over the last few years. I use the list sparingly, so I don’t spam people. Let me know if you have any questions. I like Book Funnel. The platform is an effective way to promote your work at a reasonable cost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is. Toba was so bad, they wanted to raise the top level of volcanic eruption metric. Some thought it changed the world for hundreds of years, but others think Neanderthals–after the original hiccup–thrived. Confusing!


  10. Hi Jacqui – you’re way ahead of your own curve apparently … this was a great read … I’m going to look for Kindred via the library … what interesting research you’ve covered … brilliant.

    How to reach those youtubers … I look forward to seeing how you go about it … I’m sure you’ll find a way … sadly not the dinosaur way I’d use!! so I’m looking forward to reading book 1 and then, 2 and 3 … but in the meantime – good luck with all things … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Your devotion to research and historical accuracy is to be applauded. It is this combination of being entertained and learning at the same time that makes your books such a desirable read. We look forward to your next series with great eagerness.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. You must be having fun with this research. There is probably a bit more known about Neanderthals. Some interesting facts here alone. I know a couple of people who use Book Funnel and are happy about it.

    Liked by 4 people

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