A word on Brian Jacques – A thought or two about Redwall
I’m briefly breaking my set schedule of writing once a week this month to address something very important to me: the recent passing of my favorite author, Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes).
Several years ago (I think it was 1999), I went to a book signing in Bailey’s Crossroads. There’s a Border’s bookstore there and it was a cold and icy January evening. My mother drove me (I wasn’t old enough to drive yet) and I was dressed for a DeMolay meeting that wound up being canceled (or I called in and said I wasn’t coming). My pants were a bit ill-fitting and I was the only teenager there wearing a tie. I arrived to see this collection of chairs set up amongst the periodicals and new releases arrayed towards a single point: a kindly older man who was the point of my visit. I sat in the back next to my mother in awe of the man up front who stood before his audience and (having a small girl check his work) reciting chapter two of Redwall from memory as if he had written it yesterday. Later he went upstairs to sign books and so forth while the rest of us lined up or waited for our group to be called forth. My mother and I wound up being at the end of one such group prior to his break. As we got closer, I realized I didn’t know what to say to him. My mother was far braver: upon approach, she picked up a book sitting near him and asked if this was the next book to be released (it was, in fact, Lord Brocktree). He signed my copy of The Legend of Luke (which he humorously mangled for us earlier as “The Leg End o’ Fluke”) while my mother bantered with his wife. I don’t remember what I said or what he said, but I was thrilled.
Over the years, I picked up more of his books signed via the Redwall Bookstore online (everything through them was signed). Years later, he did another tour in my area at the same Bailey’s Crossroad Borders Bookstore in 2007. This time it was a slightly smaller group (probably because we all sat on the floor instead of on chairs) and it was all done upstairs. I sat in the back and he taught us the proper way to say the name of the book: EULALIA! Whack! (you were supposed to hit something after). I had earlier found out that he would sign a maximum of three books, so I was thrilled to bring my ratty old paperback copy of Redwall for him to sign. I also purchased in the store that day a copy of Eulalia! and the Redwall graphic novel. He signed all three for me and commented, “You’re a biggun! A long-time Redwaller, eh?” When I responded in the affirmative he said to me that all ages were welcome to visit Redwall and he was glad I kept on visiting over the years. His wife gave me her thanks for my continued enjoyment of his works and I left, a warm glow in my heart.
Today I own nearly all of the Redwall books (there’s a new one due to be released this year that will still be published).
I share this with you all today because I’ve been reading the Redwall series since I was in elementary school (probably 1992 or 1993 and up). The series has been my joy to read and experience for nearly my entire life and I will be greatly looking forward to and dreading the approach of the last book: The Rogue Crew. It won’t be signed, but I’ll love it dearly.
I will now share with you some pictures that have been put online by several of the artists that worked with Mr. Jacques on their own sites, along with the relevant links to said posts. Please, enjoy the pictures and if they inspire in you a desire to read the series, please do so and I will be happy to visit the sandstone walls of Redwall again with new friends in tow.
From David Wyatt:
From Sean Rubin:
From Troy Howell:
The works of Mr. Jacques continue to draw me back in and inspire me to be good, to do good, to be a warrior who stands for those who can’t stand for themselves. The “good yarns” contained in his books move me profoundly and have always inspired me to describe things as clearly as possible in conversation and in my own writings. Further, his books also move me emotionally. They instill in me a desire to keep coming back, to visit and revisit Redwall and the many associated locales in the Tales of Redwall… a desire to be there with the friends I’ve acquired through the reading and to experience their exploits again. To battle and feast side by side with Matthias, Martin, Gonff, Sunflash, Skipper, Amber, and the many many many more friends I’ve made walking the world of Redwall. To remember fondly those lost to us like Mask, Abbot Mortimer, Friar Hugo, Bragoon, Sarobando, Laterose, and more.
I usually reserve quotes for the postscript, but for this one, I will add several of his quotes before my usual exit statement.
“What I’m doing is telling a story. People who try to dissect my words are sadly disillusioned.”
“I do not like the term ‘fantasy’. It smacks of swords and sorcery and dungeons and dragons, and this is not at all the feeling of my books. I like to think of my books as old fashioned adventures that happened ‘Once upon a time, long ago and far away…’; in fact, good yarns is how I describe them.”
“I have no empty heroes. My goodies are good, and my baddies are bad. There are no schizophrenic goodies or sympathetic baddies. And children like it that way; it’s not confusing. And they want the goodies to defeat the bads.”
“A warrior is not a bully but someone who would help you against the bully, who would stand up for somebody weaker than themselves.”
“My values are not based on violence. My values are based on courage, which you see time and time again in my books. A warrior isn’t somebody like Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. A warrior can be any age. A warrior is a person people look up to.”
For more from Mr. Jacques, please look here for some video and audio from interviews and book signings.
Until next time, I’ll see you all in the Abbey of Redwall at the banquet in Cavern Hole!
P.S. I know I’ve used it before, but here’s the introduction to Mariel of Redwall again (if you click that link, you’ll hear him read it for the audio book).