D.M. Cornish studied illustration at the University of South Australia, where he began to compile a series of notebooks, beginning with #1 in 1993. He had read Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels, The Iliad, and Paul Gallico's Love of Seven Dolls. Classical ideas as well as the great desire to continue what Mervyn Peake had begun but not finished led him to delineate his own world. Hermann Hesse, Kafka and other writers convinced him there were ways to be fantastical without conforming to the generally accepted notions of fantasy. Over the next ten years he filled 23 journals with his pictures, definitions, ideas and histories of his world, the Half-Continent.
It was not until 2003 that a chance encounter with a children's publisher gave him an opportunity to develop these ideas further. Cornish was sent away with the task of delivering 1,000 words the following week and each week thereafter. Abandoning all other paid work, he spent the next two years propped up with one small advance after the other.
The Monster Blood Tattoo series, published in North America under the title The Foundling's Tale, includes Foundling, Lamplighter and Factotum. D.M. Cornish lives in Adelaide, Australia.
D Cornish's website
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Exclusive interview between D.M. Cornish, and Thomas Morgan-Witts of BookBrowse
What made you decide to write this book?
Strange as it may sound, my publisher asked me to write the first few thousand words that became MBT: Foundling after seeing one of my notebooks fall out onto the floor from my bag. This notebook - one of 23 at the time (I'm currently in 28) - is full of ideas for the Half-Continent, it got her interest and all things went from there. How is it I even had a publisher, you might ask? Well because I'm an illustrator by training and trade, and was working on a picture book with them. Before this though, in the early years of invention, I harbored a secret, barely-expressed hope I might write a book or more some day of one or more of the inhabitants of the Half-Continent. It's been profound and wonderful to have that wish realized. There is a God, it seems.
I really enjoyed reading about all of the monster fighters, but how did you think up the Lahzar's?
Hmmm. They are a coagulation, a final percolation, a boiling down to essentials of an older concept I had, set in our own world, in modern times, of a dark counter-culture of people with strange abilities (for example: growing spines, spitting acid, ...
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