Redwall: A Tale From Redwall #1 20th Anniversary Edition, HCRedwall: A Tale From Redwall #1 20th Anniversary Edition, HC
Brian Jacques
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The book that kicked off the phenomenon is now reissued with brand new jacket art in honor of its 20th anniversary. Readers will delight anew in the thrilling adventures of young Matthias as he discovers the hero within. Brian Jacques' classic tale of peaceful creatures forced to band together in battle has never felt more timely or full of life.

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Do the animals in your stories walk on all fours or, do they walk erect?

The creatures in my stories are as big or small as your imagination wants them to be. My imagination does not see them on all fours.


I have just started your books. I have read Redwall and am now working on Mattimeo. At the beginning of Redwall thereis the "riderless horsecart" and now in Mattimeo there is mention of a ship that sank. Are there humans somewhere in the realm of Redwall?

No, there are no humans, my first book Redwall did mention the horse and cart but no humans are ever in the stories and I don't intend that they should ever be. The ships are generally crewed by vermin.


About how long does it take you to write a book in the Redwall Series?

Four to five months usually.


Out of all the books you've written, which is your personal favourite?

I have no favorite, they are all like my children special in different ways.

What is your favorite character that you have created?

Gonff! (me as a kid)


Are you ever planning to add 'American' accented animals to your stories?

I'm not planning to have American accented animals, I like to stick to things I know well. British accents are so many and varied that I never get tired of them.


Whenever the hares or badgers from Salamandastron go to war, they shout the battle cry Eeulaliaaaaaa! Where does it come from, and what does it mean?

Eulalia is a Celtic/Norse battle cry which means Victory!!


I was wondering if you do a lot of research into old languages and mythology, since I found that Salamandastron was named after the salamander, a creature which I found, according to mythology, has close ties with the element of fire.

I don't research in as much as I pore over books (I haven't the time) but I have a very retentive memory and have read extensively mostly heroic and adventurous stories of all kinds, many of the references have been picked up and absorbed this way, reading is a marvelous education!


I know that the character of Gonff is based on you, but who is the character of Martin or Matthias (one in the same...sorta) based on?

No one person is the model for either Martin or Matthias. Rather they are a mixture of good and noble characters from my reading and honest and brave friends from my life.

Have you ever thought of using mythological creatures in your stories? Not that I don't adore them the way they are, but I'd like to see how the Redwallers would react if a dragon swooped in or a goblin began haunting the GateHouse!

No - I have used creatures that I know mostly and tried to imbibe mystery here and there into some creatures whose species is not specified, but I am not a fan of sword and sorcery so that I will never have goblins or dragons or any purely mythical creatures in my world of Redwall.


You have really great stories. Do you figure out the basic plot before you start writing, or do you just let the story go the way it wants to, and see where it ends up?

I always have a very good central idea and a fairly good idea of what the ending will be, but the rest flows out as if someone takes over my fingers and mind, I never quite know what adventures will develop.


Why do you make mice, squirrels, otters and badgers "good" and foxes, rats, ferrets and such "bad"? How do you decide which are good and which are bad?

The bad creatures are those which are traditionally bad in European folk lore and have come to be regarded as sly or mean or evil. The good creatures are mostly small and defenceless, with the exception of the badgers.


Mr. Jacques, I was wondering how you come up with all the wonderful riddles in your books, do you sit down and come up with them, or do other people help you, such as your wife or friends?

I write all my own riddles and poems and songs, they are a particular favourite of mine. I love to play with words and one of my spare time hobbies (when I get any spare time) is word games and crossword puzzles.

We've learned that many of the characters in Redwall are based off the demeanors and dialects of different people you've met in your real life adventures. Were the Sparras inspired by anyone in particular?

The Sparras were actually based on my observation of real sparrows in my garden as I was working. My but they are argumentative and territorial, they made me laugh so much, so fierce and brave but so tiny, and I have seen them all over the world just the same tough little bodies as here in my English garden.


Were did you come with the names Mathias, Martin, Constance, Gonff, Tsarmina, Gingivere, and Verdauga in your books Redwall and Mossflower?

Matthias and Martin are strong masculine names and of Biblical origin. Constance says what it means and describes her well.Gingevere I made up, he is a ginger cat. Tsarmina is a play on words , the female rulers of Russia were called Tsarinas. I put mean in there and so Tsarmina. Verdauga is from the Latin and auga..eye. Lord Greeneye.


Mr.Jacques my class has just completed an author study and I understand that your books are so descriptive because they were written for blind people. What the group that studied you didn't say was how or why you became involved for writing for the blind. Could you tell me?

The children of The Royal School for the Blind here in Liverpool are my special friends. I have been involved with fund raising and support for them for many many years. I first met them when I used to deliver milk to the school as a truck driver. When I later became a writer I decided to write a story to read to them..... so Redwall was born.


I was wondering, how many languages have Redwall books been published in?

Italian, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Polish, Dutch, Russian and Japanese.

Some of the bad guys' names are reasonably obvious (Redtooth, Darkckaw, Bladetail), but how do you come up with the other names, like Romsca, Ferahgo, Slagar, Ublaz, and Lask Frildur?

I spend a long time thinking of names that sound bad or mean. I play with words and shuffle them until something feels right. Hard sounds like k and g and x and z often do the trick.


Where do you come up with all the places of the land of Redwall. Is the Redwall Abbey, Salamandastron, Noonvale, Kotir, etc.based on any real places in Europe or other parts of the world? Also, is their origin or battles based on historical events?

The geography of my Redwall world is roughly the British Isles, but the battles are all my own!


Do you work in close collaboration with the artists that do the covers for your books so the characters look like you imagined them?

Yes, I design my covers and the artists send rough sketches for my approval. We have been working together so long now that both the U.K. and U.S. artists, Chris Baker and Troy Howell, are very much in tune with what I like. Both seem to still be able to delight and surprise me every time by coming up with more and more wonderful work!


How do you come up with actual story ideas?

This is very difficult to answer. The stories start to come to me in all sorts of ways. I dream some of the parts and I find myself restless when a story starts to weave in and out of my thoughts. Then I must get down to writing. It won't let me rest until it is on the page!


What is your favorite food that you have written about in your books?

I haven't a favourite as such, but I do enjoy the sweet concoctions. I am not a great sweet eater, but when I decide to indulge I like them full of lots of goo and cream and icing and nuts on top, so I take great care over those creations.


Do all the male badgers in the Mossflower area sometime in their life go on their quest to the badger lord mountain Salamandatron?

Good question. Most of them feel the call to go questing at some time in their lives.

I was wondering, All the hares say Wot! Wot! What does Wot! mean?

They say wot wot because I like it, it sounds like British upper classtwaddle, and that is basically the hare character. It is properly spelt "what what".


Why did you choose an Abbey instead of, say, a castle? Are there more of them in England?

I chose an abbey because it is a place of peace and tranquility, where ordinarily the cares of a busy and frantic world do not intrude.


Do you draw the maps that are in the front of your books yourself, or do you tell the artist what to draw?

Yes, I draw them in brief, and then the artist redraws the beautiful ones which appear at the front of the books.


Why do you call the abbey young ones Dibbuns? Does it mean anything?

It is a made up word for babies. It fits well I think.


How do you think of names for characters? I try to write stories (not always Redwall stories), but have trouble thinking of names for characters.

Many are made up from anagrams of people I know, and others just sound like the character to me. Some, of course, are real names for the animals that they are given to, but in other languages: Plumpen for instance is the Dutch word for Dormouse.


When you compose the songs that some characters in your delightful books sing, do you have melodies for them or are they just poetry?

They all have tunes in my head and I sing them to myself.

Considering that some of the names that are found in Redwall are also found in the Bible (Matthias and Methuselah, for example), did you mean to create any parallels between the two? If so, what are some plot points that you can tell us about in Redwall that you got from the Bible?

No parallels are intended. The Biblical names are strong and resonant, and many of them are also family names in my home.


Do you have any superstitions about writing? For instance, do you wear pink bunny slippers, write at a certain time and place, or have to be facing some direction?

I like to write in my garden preferably but not exclusively in good weather. I have a certain pen and a very old typewriter. Nothing else makes me feel comfortable.


Considering that you started out writing Redwall stories for the blind, have any of your books ever been published in Braille? If so, which ones?

Each of my books is available to the National Library for the Blind here in Britain and each has been translated into Braille as it has been published. The Library runs a free lending service to all blind people here and does tremendous work.

Several times in "Martin the Warior" Martin refers to "the warrior's code". Is this simply what is just and right, or is there a specific "Warrior's Code"?

The warriors code is the code of honesty, friendship and as you say doing what is just and right.


In "Redwall" Foremole exclaims that he will give the rats "'Owd 'arry." What does "'Owd 'arry" mean?

This is a country expression; one of the names for the devil is Old Harry!! So it is like saying 'there will be the devil to pay' and of course in Molespeak Old Harry becomes 'Owd 'arry'


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