As the title of this blog alludes, I get lots of queries as to whether or not I was influenced by, or am familiar with the Redwall series by Brian Jaques.
The simple answer to that question is: Yes and No.
While I am familiar with Mr. Jaques' titles, and the cover art adorning his books, I am wholly UN-familiar with the contents of his books, beyond some surface research I have done for the sake of comparison. I read one chapter of one of his books, then put it down so as to DELIBERATELY NOT write in any style that would be construed as being influenced by his body of work.
Since the genre in which I am writing and illustrating is similar to Brian Jaques work, I wanted to steer clear of being interpreted as a "copy cat" or a "Brian Jaques, Jr." Not that the comparsison is not flattering, as his work is so prolific and wide-spread, with millions of avid readers, but when an author/artist creates something, he loathes the idea or notion that his "original" work is a copy of someone else's. Hence my cognitive distancing of myself from Mr. Jaques' books. To be frank, I have never read a single one of Brian Jacques' books, in order to maintain my creative integrity on Tam O'Hare.
Here are some of the differences between Redwall and Tam O'Hare, as I see them...
1) Redwall is set in an almost medieval-like fantasy realm - albeit, very British in tone; i.e.: accents, dialects, etc.
Tam O'Hare is set in "real" history - England, Ireland and Scotland of the mid-sixteenth century, with actual historical nameplaces and geography. I have also incorporated the use of Gaelic phrases, as well as lots of nautical terms for the ships and sea battles.
2) Redwall's characters are all fictional creations of Brian Jaques' mind.
While Tam O'Hare, Horatio MacNutt and some of the other characters are all ficticious creations of mine, they are surrounded with, and interact with real historical characters - albeit fictionalized within their historical contexts - such as: Elizabeth I of England; Mary Stewart, Queen of the Scots; James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell; John Knox and several others.
3) Character names in the Redwall series. A recent 2002 release by Brian Jaques was entitled, Rackkety Tam, picturing a kilt-adorned, sword-weilding squirrel on the cover of the book.
Tam O'Hare is a character created by me in 1998, complete with a green bonnet, sword (a variation on the circa 1520 Venetian Serenissima Rapier), and a Scottish plaid mantle. The doublet Tam O'Hare is wearing was loosly based on the doublet worn by Charles I of England (from a painting done by Daniel Mytens in 1631 - about 50 years too late in fashion, but modified for my usage). All that to say that Tam O'Hare, while costumed by historical reference, is quite original. Oh, and his name was inspired by the old Scottish legend, Tam Lyn. and Rabby Burns's, Tam O'Shanter.
4) Brian Jaques incorporates British dialects in hs characterizations, recognizable as haling from certain geographic locales in Great Britain.
Tam O'Hare is an Irish Lord of the 16th century, and the vocal patterns I write for him are very refined, with a smack of Irish turn-of-phrase. The pirate racoons in the book are written with what has come to be thought of as "pirate slang," such as "...a ship the likes o' ours, what is engaged in the buisness o' piratin'..." or: "Cap'n sez, ye're to stay in yer cabin! And we're here t'make sure ye stays!" Pirate speak. heh.
5) The genre of Redwall is anthropomorphized - the ascribing of human form or attributes to animals.
This is a similarity between my work and Jaques' work. Both stories are anthropomorphized - much like Micky Mouse, Disney's fox as Robin Hood, Fivel the Mouse, Ren and Stimpy, Bugs Bunny, Brian the Dog in Family Guy, etc... ad infinitum...
6) Revisiting #1 above with a slightly different detail, Redwall's geographic locations are fictional, set in a fantasy realm of Brian Jaques' creation.
Tam O'Hare is set in historically recognizable locations in England, Ireland and Scotland.
7) Redwall, as far as I can tell by book titles and cover art, and the little bit of research i have done, is a series of stories that does not have a recurring main character.
Tam O'Hare is the main charcter of what I intend to be a series of books - wholly dependent, of course, on the success and public reception of the first. Sorry to say, but no matter how creative a book may be, if it does not SELL WELL, the publisher will not continue to contract future books. The planned series will focus on the exploits of Lord Tam O'Hare of HareHenge castle, each tale revolving around his exploits and the paranormal aspects of Celtic mythology as experienced in 16th century Ireland.
So, as you can see, while there are similarities, the differences are vast.
I am honored to have the comparisons drawn, but at the same time, am more than eager to distance myself and my work from that of Mr. Jaques', in that The Rollicking Adventures of Tam O'Hare is a thoroughly original creation of my own, and will hopefully create it's own "coattails," rather than ride on the success of others.
Your questions and comments are more than welcome.