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Happy Fourth of July!
In February 2006, The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy was published, and within the book Brian Jacques was interviewed by children's book historian and critic Leonard S. Marcus, along with 12 other authors. All of the interviews were tape-recorded either in person or via the telephone, with the exception of two that were conducted using e-mail. Given that Brian doesn't use e-mail and lives in England, I'm going to assume the conversation between Mr. Marcus and himself took place over the phone.
The book is divided into sections for each writer; each section begins with the author's photograph and a brief three-to-five paragraph biography. In Brian's case, the photo used for his section is the standard press photo taken by his son David Jacques that readers should be accustomed to seeing within his novels. Brian is the fifth author to appear in the collection.
Marcus begins the conversation asking Brian to describe his childhood and memories of World War II. These bits include expanded versions of Brian's usual recollections of not having enough food (so he writes vivid descriptions of feasts) and the tale of being caned as a 10-yr-old boy for refusing to state he had copied someone else's work.
They go on to discuss how he became a writer, and why he originally wrote Redwall. Something I found of particular interest was that he averages 10 pages a day, and on a good day he can write up to 25.
Another new revelation was that Sir Harry the Muse was based off of a Liverpudlian lawyer friend of his who asked to be put in one of the Redwall novels as a rat. Brian, however, thought that his friend had "been a rat long enough," and instead made him an owl.
Their conversation also covers what he thinks about being a professional writer, and what he talks about with children who also want to write. All in all, Brian's portion of the book consists of 20 questions from Marcus, and runs for approximately 13 pages.
For the interview, Brian also provided a childhood photo in which he appears with his brothers circa 1949, as well as a copy of the first page from the handwritten draft for the prologue to Redwall.
Also included in The Wand in the Word are authors Susan Cooper, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman and the since deceased Madeleine L'Engle, just to name a few. Anyone interested in writing fantasy (or even just writing) should check it out, there are too many big names to miss out on this interesting read.