June 20, 2016
Author Spotlight: Brian Jacques
Welcome to another author spotlight. But before we begin, what do you think of the new blog header and logo? Also, check out the Etsy button in the sidebar. If you click on it, you'll be taken straight to my Etsy shop.
But anyway, on to today's post. I'm going to talk about one of my top authors- right up there with Tolkien and Lewis. His name is Brian Jacques (pronounced "jakes") and he's also from Britain. Let's take a look at his life first.
James Brian Jacques was born on June 15, 1939, in Liverpool, England. (I didn't know I had this post planned so close to his birthday.) He went by his middle name because his father and brother were also named James. Brian went to St. John's School in Liverpool. At ten he showed his developing skill for writing by handing in a short story about a bird that cleans crocodile teeth. His teacher thought he couldn't have written it and called him a liar.
When he left school at 15, he was a sailor for a while. Then he returned to England and did a variety of jobs- including a bus driver, a truck driver, a bobby, a fireman, a postman, and a stand-up comic. Later in life he also had a show on BBC radio.
Redwall was written for the children at a blind school. He wrote vividly so they could "see" the story in their mind. The first book was published because his old school teacher showed it to a publisher behind his back. They asked him to write more.
Brian married a woman named Maureen and had two sons. He died in February of 2011 of a heart attack.
Brian Jacques wrote a multitude of books. His Redwall series has been translated into 28 languages and sold more than twenty million copies. I have read the complete Redwall series as well as the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series and his Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales.
Redwall- There are 22 books in the Redwall series, plus a bunch of extras including a cookbook, so I won't list them all here. You can look them up online. They take place around the abbey of Redwall in a world populated with animals that talk and such. Animals like hares, badgers, mice, and hedgehogs are the good guys, while foxes, rats, weasels and the like are bad.
Castaways of the Flying Dutchman- This three book series is about a young boy and his dog who are made immortal by an angel to help people. They travel the world and make friends, but can't stay because they'll never get older.
Urso Brunvo- I have never seen these anywhere nor read them so I don't know what they are like. All I can gather is that they are about a bear.
Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales- When he says strange and ghostly, he means it. These were weird but also cool. Don't read it at night.
The Ribbajack and Other Curious Yarns- I've never read this one either. According to Wikipedia it is six tales similar to his other book of short stories.
What I Enjoy About His Work
There are many things I enjoy in his style. Like his descriptions. Most writers use the eyes to describe things, then the ears, lastly the nose. The rest of the senses don't come in a lot. But Brian uses everything, including taste. When you read his books, you feel like you're there. The feast scenes are so good they make your mouth water. He said this was because he would read a book and say "They had a feast" but never describe anything about it. He was a master of description.
Second, he doesn't stray away from tough concepts just because it's a children's book. His books are full of good verses evil, with good always winning. Good guys die as well as the bad. It's sad, but that is life.
At the same time as being true to life, it is funny. The hares are hare-larious (get it?). I love talking like them. The creatures know how to have fun and celebrate.
His characters are also real. You can feel what they feel. You love those characters. I'm especially fond of his girl characters. While being completely feminine, they can also be as brave and strong and as good fighters as the boys. I could write a whole post on writing females like he does.
How many of Brian Jacques books have you read? Which is your favorite? Tell me in the comments, I'd love to know.