The earliest books I remember reading were myth collections written by Roger Lancelyn Green. Norse, Egyptian, and Greek gods and heroes were my go-to reading until I discovered fantasy. Like so many people I eventually found myself amongst the pages of The Hobbit, before diving into Fighting Fantasy books and a whole range of novels where humans, dwarfs and elves spent their days roaming desolate plains stabbing things. It was great.
As much as I enjoyed the Hobbit I couldn’t get into the Lord of the Rings and, what I’d call, other serious fantasy didn’t really appeal. Then I stumbled upon Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I was absolutely smitten. His stories were accessible, amusing, and thoughtful. For me his books were the very definition of the enjoyment of reading, and I worked my way through them with relish.
There wasn’t anyone else quite like Sir Terry writing at the time, and I’m not sure there ever will be. His writing changed what I wanted to read. I wanted to be engaged, entertained, but most importantly I wanted something a bit different. It was around that time I read The Miller’s Tale and the Pardoner’s Tale from the Canterbury Tales. Despite their age something pulled me in. I found myself drawn to similar story collections, such as The Arabian Nights, and other folk tale collections. Writing this now I realise that it may seem strange that my quest for new reading material would take me back in time. I can’t quite put my finger on what I enjoyed about these stories, but I’m not sure it really matters that much.
Today I read a range of, predominantly, fantasy and horror titles, but when it came to settling down to pen my first proper book it was the likes of Sir Terry, Chaucer, and the unremembered story tellers of old that inspired me the most. I wanted to write something that would be a joy to read, didn’t take itself too seriously, indulged the opportunity for creativity that fantasy offers, but also paid homage to the storytellers of old whose tales are the only evidence of their existence. I would love to think that The Rose of Amzharr is the sort of tale at least one of them would have told to a captivated audience on a cold winter’s night.
So, at its heart The Rose of Amzharr is a classic questing story, however its protagonists do their best to stray away from the more traditional fantasy archetypes. It is a first part, an introduction to a new world and a new journey. And an attempt to resolve that seemingly unspoken desire from the literary world at large for more anthropomorphic moles and talking squirrels.