The Lay of Angor


Fantasy has always been one of my favourite literary genres. As a child, I loved Alice in Wonderland, C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and Alan Garner's wonderful stories like Elidor and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. As a young teen, I got completely sucked into E.R Eddison's strange masterpiece, The Worm Ouroboros; as a student, I discovered Lord of the Rings and Stephen Donaldson's epic saga of The Land; and I remain an enthusiastic consumer of the fantastic, macabre and Gothic to this day.

So I wanted to write the kind of fiction I enjoy reading; and although the characters and plot of Lay of Angor are mine own, you may recognise the influences of some of my favourite books and writers. Overall, I wanted my world to be as rich, diverse and believable (in its way) as Tolkien's Middle-Earth, but as dark, Gothic and faintly ludicrous as Mervyn Peake creates in Gormenghast; and for its central battle between good and evil to be fought not against monsters or supernatural beings, but in a very real setting of political and religious schism. Because I particularly enjoy reading detailed descriptions - like Jack Vance's vivid word-pictures of people, costumes, meals and so on in his Lyonesse trilogy - I wanted my text to be highly visual (one of the compliments I've savoured most from readers is that they can 'see' the scenes I'm writing about - exactly what I hoped would happen). Being a horror-story afficionado, I just had to include a bit of grue; and while the Lay might not be as laugh-out-loud funny as Terry Pratchett's Discworld, a thread of tongue-in-cheek humour runs through it and there are some deliberately farcical episodes (especially the ones involving my comedy soldiers Skala and Karl!).

Aside from the literary, Lay of Angor reflects lots of my interests, hobbies and passions, from natural history, scuba-diving, archery and cookery to theology and New Age philosophy. Some of the scenes are drawn directly from life - like the seasickness episode in Chapter 1 of Breath of Gaia. The astral travel is real, too, (I had numerous 'out-of-body' experiences in my teens and twenties), as are Elinor's struggles with depression - and anyone who's ever done co-counselling will recognise the 'talk to a cushion' therapy. Other elements are works of pure (or impure) imagination - for instance, I've never taken part in an orgy!

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