All writers are magpies; we’re corvids’ children, really – stealing pieces of Shiny! from other worlds, other times, phrases that you hear on the bus, a chance encounter with a friend. One of the worlds that influenced a lot of us fantasy writers was understandably this one: Middle Earth, or Arda, charted and discovered by JRR Tolkien.[*]

Of course, I was drawn into the story of a perilous journey, undaunted friendships, riddling dragons and epic battles. I wrote totally derivative fanfic back in the days before it was called fanfic. I created Numenorean heroes living in out-of-the-way Gondorian places; I wrote side-adventures of wild-man Beren and his faithful hound Huan.

[yeah, I was a total and proud geek. I’m not sorry.]

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