Skip to main content


December 2, 2014

Guest Post by LUG author David Zeltser


What would happen if you took a topic very relevant to today's world --- global warming --- and applied it to another time period experiencing some major climate changes --- the Stone Age? David Zeltser does just this in his book LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age, which follows a boy who has a secret art cave, a couple quirky friends and an urgent need to survive the changing world and unite the feuding clans! Learn more about LUG and David's past in the below blog post, as well as a traiiler for the book!

As a kid, I devoured all types of fiction. But because I also liked asking the basic questions about the universe and the world around me, I was sure I’d be a theoretical physicist. I was on the scientific track most of my life, but right before my senior year at Harvard, my best friend was struck and killed by lightning. His name was Qijia Fu and that sudden loss changed everything for me. Instead of continuing on with my plans to go to grad school and do theoretical physics, I suddenly felt I wanted my work to have more of a connection to people, emotion and imagination.

I spent my last year of college taking classes in everything except science. I was intrigued by a playwriting contest at Harvard, where the winning play would be produced. I entered, and the play won. Encouraged, I began writing screenplays. I continued to explore my creative writing, living in the quintessentially tiny New York City apartment and paying the bills working as a freelance advertising copywriter on the side.

When my daughter was born, I started to think about her future and the world she would inherit. I began to write about how cavemen might react to major climate change in their world and it put a smile on my face. I felt the parallel to our situation would not be lost on readers, and they would enjoy it. Children are drawn to that era, and by placing the story in prehistoric times, I had the freedom to explore important topics in an entertaining manner.

LUG is about a kind kid who happens to be born in the Stone Age, which is not the best time for benevolence in terms of survival. He doesn’t like to play headstone --- which basically involves bashing your opponent’s heads with stones. One thing that kids love about the book is that Lug has a forbidden secret art cave. He would rather work on his cave paintings than bash heads. As a result, he gets bullied by others in the clan.

The only kid who "talks" to Lug is Stony, a mute Neanderthal with a very expressive unibrow. When Lug and Stony are banished from their clan, they’re forced to team up with a rival Boar Rider girl who happens to be prehistory’s first vegetarian and animal rights activist.

The big question is: In a world experiencing some serious global cooling --- as the cold travels south toward them --- how can these exiles find a way to survive climate change, unite their feuding clans and protect everyone from some very ferocious migrating saber-toothed tigers? One big problem is that they are surrounded by cavemen who think the coming Ice Age is “just a little weather.”

When it came to the main conflict, I tried to avoid the typical macho approach. Despite what kids see in movies, the important conflicts they’ll face won’t be resolved by physical violence. The powers that be in this story are defeated through all kinds of other interesting means. I wanted kids who don’t think of themselves as leaders to see what is possible when you really care about something important. It isn’t easy, but by believing in yourself and sticking to your beliefs, the rewards are great.


David Zeltser emigrated from the former Soviet Union at age five. He is a nature and animal lover who, after graduating from Harvard, was admitted to vet school to study wildlife medicine. But he ultimately came back to his first loves --- the arts and storytelling. David lives with his wife and young daughter in Santa Cruz, California. He performs improvised comedy and loves connecting with readers of all ages.