Writing fictionally by inspiration is a deeply satisfying experience. The
story as it unfolds becomes a frontier for the writer, the characters within
the story alive, weaving themselves of their own volition for the author to
record. It is a quickening experience, providing an irresistible impetus for
The writing of The Culling Dark was very much this sort of experience. The characters took on their own life, the progression of the narrative, the continual weaving of dream, was the result of watching and recording. When the members of Gamma escaped into the wilderness, their journey unfolded throughout, so that when they stood before the doors of Oz, I, too, felt in awe.
The craft of writing is the pursuit of tasty words that smack of truth. At times the words jump from finger tip to screen, at others it is a painful labour, the birth of them arriving only after great strain. When Major and L'Abri stand in the ruined square, and Major becomes spooked by the extent of the death that had occurred there, the descripting paragraph was such an effort.
Tone is everything in the narrative. The tone of the narrative in The Culling Dark is purposely, deceptively naïve. For this reason, when first trying to publish, several houses commented in the rejection that they weren't publishing children's books at this time. Had they taken the time to read further they would have found that the tone is in direct opposition to what takes place within the narrative. The tone with the characters in contrast to what occurs in their lives becomes an artful oxymoron.
There are many characters in the book. The reason becomes clearer toward the end, where the reader begins to understand that he or she has witnessed the beginnings of a new civilization. Replete with myth, seasonal rhythm, political grounding, and a history that dictates the future for the next generations, The Culling Dark makes the reader privy to the creating foundation for those who come after.
As a child my imagination was the only escape from the dramas of the adults around me. The turmoil kept my young life in constant flux. Today I am thankful for this; the result is the habit of indulging a rich fantasy life, by which you, the reader, now benefit.
I write because I love a good story. When I wrote The Culling Dark it was for my own entertainment, the kind of story I might tell myself but for the first time setting it to paper. It is my hope that in entering the world of my imagination, the reader comes away at the close with a deep satisfaction of a story well told.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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