I’m going to write about Fire & Hemlock again, but this time from the perspective of the writer, ispired to write because of it.
One of the things I love about Fire & Hemlock is its rich use of source material; the layers of literature that underly the story. From the ballad of Thomas the Rhymer, and the story of Tam Lin which are referenced directly in the story, to T.S. Elliot’s Four Quartets. Finding these links and these parallels have been a fascinating, insightful, and add more and more to every re-reading. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it now. The story was bound to inspire me and inform my own writing.
The novel I’m currently writing, Mr Tumnal draws parallels with Diana Wynne Jones’ book. And has nods and quotes to and from it along with other references to popular culture and literature. It’s fun. It’s not fan-fiction because it doesn’t use DWJ’s characters, plot, or setup in anyway (although there are a couple of minor characters who happen to be called Tom and Polly and who happen to be getting married but who aren’t DWJ’s Tom and Polly). It’s not a dreadful rehashing of a timeless classic either.
Like Fire & Hemlock with its double set of memories there are two sides to the story of Louis Tumnal. It’s just that where in F & H they were memories, in my story they are the real and the imaginative life of a lonely man. It’s a story of my own creation, very unique in its way which exists in the way that it does because Diana Wynne Jones inspired me by writing her great book.