Contributed by LordTBT at 5:46AM GMT, 28 October 2008


Brian Jacques, master yarn-spinner

I had the privilege of seeing Brian Jacques on tour on Monday, October 27th, at the Houston tour stop hosted by Brazos Bookstore at the Houston Children's Museum.

This was my second time seeing BJ, the first time was 2 years ago, and the events were quite different.

The event was scheduled to start at 5PM, and I arrived at the venue around 4:30. Brazos Bookstore mandated that in order to attend one had to purchase one of Brian's new books (something I could write much more thoughts on but I won't), and being as I have read Doomwyte, I purchased Urso Brunov and the White Emperor.

The presentation was held in a small auditorium; approximately 90% of the audience consisted of middle school-age children and their parents. I would estimate there were approximately 70 people there, no more. I sat in the sweet spot: the exact middle of the 6th row. While waiting for Brian to appear, I skimmed through White Emperor, however I could hear him laughing backstage.

The hosts delayed the event until 5:10, as stragglers were still arriving. Finally, Brian was introduced and the crowd applauded loudly. After pretending he couldn't find the opening to the curtain, he poked his head around the corner of the right of the stage and shouted "Go away!", to the amusement of the audience.

Brian began the show with his story of how he became an author, and how to become one. His number one piece of advice: "Learn to paint pictures with words".

He also discussed at great length about why cheating is wrong (you get caught) and his education as a boy.

From memory, Brian also recited the description of Cluny the Scourge from Chapter 2 of Redwall, to the enjoyment of everyone.

Then, he held a brief Q&A session with the crowd. Most questions involved how he invented various speech patterns for characters such as moles, otters, and hares. However one person asked him to name his favorite hero and favorite villain. While it has been known some time that Gonff the Mousethief is his favorite hero, I was surprised to learn that Cap'n Tramun Clogg is his favorite villain!

Brian also revealed that 2 dogs in his family have been named for Rakkety Tam MacBurl and Wild Doogy Plumm.

Before moving on to sign books however, he revealed the name of his next Redwall novel: The Sable Quean!

The book signing table was directly behind the curtain on stage. Everyone lined up, and I took my place at the very back of the line, which moved fairly quickly. I brought along the sleeve for A Gig wid Brig, as well as Brian Jacques Meets Paddy Kelly for him to sign. He was surprised to see both, and when he noticed that my copy of Paddy Kelly is an ex-library edition, he accused me of stealing it, but I assured him I paid for it. He flipped through the book and reminisced about his Radio Merseyside days and the character he created.

Upon seeing the cover of A Gig wid Brig, he mused about how everyone used to smoke back then. After staring at the tracklisting on the back and recognizing "Timothy Winters" on side 2, he burst into song and still remembered it exactly. It was very impressive.

I didn't expect Brian to remember me from 2 years ago, and I don't think he did. However I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions as I was the last person.

  • Of particular intrigue to myself is the status of A Divvil of a Lad, his autobiography. I asked him if the project would see the light of day, he said "No", given his wild past, but he may have been joking in the way that he said it. Either way, it seems as if this will still be on the shelf for a while.
  • There is no Castaways 4 in the pipeline right now, but he does want to write one. He says he is kept very busy writing Redwall now though to do it.
  • Liz was not there (which was disappointing, I wanted her to sign A Gig wid Brig too!), Brian said she had been not feeling well. Hopefully she gets better soon!
  • I asked him about the Redwall: The Movie (2011) project with IMAGEN. He didn't seem to know what I was talking about, and said he is approached all the time about a Redwall movie and all the money he could make from one, but really seems to have no interest in it. Whether or not we will see a movie seems to be debatable right now.
  • Brian exclusively revealed to me that David Elliot will be illustrating The Sable Quean!

The event was totally concluded by 6:30PM. Before leaving, I handed Brian a note about this site. Hopefully someone will drop by.

All in all, a great show and a privilege as always to see, meet, and talk to the man. Photos are below.

Story Update 10/28/2008 4:07PM GMT

In contacting David Elliot to confirm, he actually said Brian was mistaken. He has been very busy lately with other projects, so the illustrator will be someone else! Sorry to hear that David.

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