The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Oldman Brook

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Oldman Brook

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Summary: We thought that The Wizard of Crescent Moon Mountain by Oldman Brook was a real roller-coaster ride. As soon as we'd picked ourselves up we asked Oldman to pop in and chat to us.
Date: 3 July 2012
Interviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee

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We thought that The Wizard of Crescent Moon Mountain by Oldman Brook was a real roller-coaster ride. As soon as we'd picked ourselves up we asked Oldman to pop in and chat to us.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Oldman Brook: Whilst writing the 'Wizard', I honestly didn't envisage anyone in the audience – my focus was always to produce a story I could enjoy and be proud of. However, having completed the final drafts, I've been surprised to receive some good responses from a number of people, be it reviewers, friends, family or colleagues. I'd always pictured it as a fantasy book for children aged 10+, but from the reactions I've been getting, I can see boys and girls of all ages reading it.

OB: My daughter was definitely the inspiration for book. For years, I'd had musings and ideas about the adventures of a grumpy old wizard, but it was my daughter who made me want to put pen to paper. The Wizard of Crescent Moon Mountain is my gift to her – as well as the toys, the books, the DVD's and the dolls… I could go on.

  • BB: I loved Pengwellen, the old dragon. Who's your favourite character in the book?

OB: I'd have to say my favourite character is Kevlan the Buggane. The character is quite a sad one, primarily because the Buggane's appearance has stopped him from going out and experiencing the world. Whilst his appearance is intimidating, his kindness, unassuming nature and innocence shine through. I like that he is the catalyst who highlights the best in Greybeard, his friends and Finn, and the worst in Beezle – he's a very important stepping stone in the tale. Whenever I've read the story, this is the chapter that really sets the book off, and where my 'love' for the book begins – Kevlan definitely has a big part in doing that.

  • BB: I thought the variety of names for the characters was brilliant. How did you manage to think of them all?

OB: That's a hard one, so many names and so many reasons for choosing them. It took some thinking about, as I wanted the names to fit the characters in the book - for example, I think the name Beezle has a mischief about it, and suits the character of the elven boy it refers to. I also realised that the make-up of the names needed to be suitably different between the races – so I went with a welsh name for the dragon in Pengwellen, Scandinavian sounding names for the dwarfs etc.

  • BB: You pulled it off well too! When I read The Wizard of Crescent Moon Mountain I really felt that you'd put heart and soul into the writing. How long did it take you? How did you manage to do all the research?

OB: The actual writing of the book, and the artwork, took around 10-12 months to do. I work full time, so I was restricted to writing in the evenings and weekends. With regards to the research, I've been lucky enough to have had 37 years on this earth to prepare for the 'Wizard'. In that time, I've watched thousands of films, read thousands of stories, and had thousands upon thousands of experiences, some of which are referred to in the book – if you look closely enough you'll find a lot of references to films and stories. Also, when you say that you 'felt I'd put my heart and soul into the writing', that actually rings true - I hadn't really thought about it in that way before; there's a lot of emotion running through the book, and there was definitely some soul searching going on at times – for sure.

  • BB: I know that kids will love the gore-fests (and probably regurgitate them at the most inopportune moments) and you obviously have a keen sense of what taps into the tween and teen psyche. How did you feel writing those bits?

OB: Well, I'm a big fan of horror films, and wrote my dissertation for my university degree on slasher films - so gore had to be in there somewhere. Importantly, though, Greybeard's band of men represent all that is good and fair in Everlast, Warrior and the goblin army present the other extreme, and to give evil credence in the story, evil has to do the most atrocious things. Saying that, whilst I enjoyed thinking of ways to show violence and evil acts, I was always mindful of what I was writing, and I don't think I let it go too far.

  • BB: You got the balance perfectly! Where and how do you write? With or without music?

OB: I wrote the vast majority of the book on the sofa in our lounge, with a beer perched at the side of me, and films like 'The Lords of the Rings' or 'Harry Potter' blaring out in the background. It was winter when I began to write it, so I remember the snow falling, a good few open fires in the fireplace, and my baby daughter fast asleep in her bouncer chair. There was quite a relaxed ambience in the house, so I was able to concentrate on my thoughts. I'm not sure I'd be able to recreate that now, though – the house is a lot busier and noisier.

  • BB: Which bits of being an author do you enjoy and which would you rather not have to do at all?

OB: I think the most enjoyable thing about being an author was developing the landscapes of Everlast and the characters in it, knowing that I was creating something that would never have existed without my input. On the flip-side, I wish my use of grammar was perfect – it isn't... it's terrible. Having only taken me a year to write the book, it took a good while longer to get it polished – that was a pretty frustrating experience. I have a great editor now, though. I'm sure she'll make the experience of editing the next book far easier.

  • BB: Did you read much as a child? What sort of books did you like? Do you still have any of the books from your childhood?

OB: Oh, I read thousands of books as a child. From an early age, I was attracted to books with a fantastical element to them, and authors like Tolkien, Dahl and Enid Blyton's 'Faraway Tree' books were firm favourites. I was also keen on learning about the world, so had a heavy interest in gathering information about a number of subjects including astronomy, nature, mythology, travel and art. Whilst not a hoarder of things, I still have a hundred or so books that I've kept from my childhood, and hopefully they'll be picked up and read by my daughter and newborn son as they get older.

  • BB: What are you reading at the moment?

OB: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology – it's basically a guide to mythologies in all parts of the world… it's fascinating.

  • BB: What's your best book of all time?

OB: The Hobbit

  • BB: Good choice. You've got one wish. What's it to be?

OB: I suppose the wish is to have a quieter life, pottering around the house, and wandering around the garden, while writing books and earning a living from it. I had no expectations on writing 'The Wizard of Crescent Moon Mountain' (and still don't – fingers are always crossed), but as things progress and I get more confident that the book has potential, I think it would be a major achievement to get a publisher who wants to work with the book and take it forward.

  • BB: What's next for Oldman Brook?

OB: A second 'Wizard' book is underway, which carries on from where the first ended. It will expand upon the mythology of Everlast, introduce the reader to the wizard's council, the inhabitants of the Neverwitch Tree, and a sinister sect linked to the master of the green oric. In addition, I have an idea of what the ending will be – it's going to be a good one. At the same time, I'll be endeavouring to market the 'Wizard of Crescent Moon Mountain' with whatever resources I can afford.

  • BB: Thanks for chatting to us, Oldman - and we're looking forward to the next book.

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