Today I have Laurel A. Rockefeller on Lost to Books. She has written a guest post about her influences with some movie tie ins!
So everyone please welcome Laurel!
From Middle Earth to Beinan: Building New Literary Worlds
December 14th, 2012. Peter Jackson releases the long awaited “Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” nine years after Aragorn became King of Gondor in Jackson’s film adaptation of “Return of the King.” Hobbit mania is sweeping the world, along with a renewed interest in reading the novel.
Whatever you may think about Peter Jackson’s adaptations, the best way to appreciate the works of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien remains the books themselves, books that taught me a great deal about what I feel works in science fiction and fantasy literature.
As a philologist (a person who studies language in historical documents), Tolkien observed how little “English” mythology was truly native to England. Tolkien decided to amend that by creating his own mythology for England. The results are the cherished books so many of us love today.
Tolkien’s goals were noble. His books are some of the most influential in modern American and English literature. I too am strongly influenced as a writer by Tolkien. This increased with time as I received my bachelor of arts, then continued reading and studying on my own across my adult life.
Tolkien accomplished what so few writers have ever attempted: he created a COMPLETE WORLD. From Numenor to Middle Earth, Tolkien took the time to figure out not just his characters, but the entire history and cultures behind them. Tolkien knew before penning his Fellowship of the Ring chapter “At the inn of the Prancing Pony” EXACTLY who this “Strider/Aragorn” fellow was – then took the time to tell us in the appendices for the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien told us about Elrond’s daughter Arwen, about Aragorn’s time living in Rivendell, about his exact connection to Isildur. Tolkien could do this because he took the time to figure it all out.
What this taught me as a writer is the importance of working out a complete world rather than borrowing from others. Tolkien taught me to write a solid foundation built on research and study and to take the time to do my homework.
I know that the fruits of this may be a little jarring to a few people who are not used to an author going to that much trouble. It must be a little challenging for people who are not used to Tolkien’s style to enter a story and immediately be hit with words like “yen-ars” and “beinors,” but I think it makes the story more believable. After all, we live in a world of many languages just here on Earth…of course a society on another planet has a different word for day or year than we do, just like they have different religions, different styles of building, and a different way of looking at the world.
Don’t get me wrong, it is very hard to create an entire world of your own when you are writing. I spent an entire MONTH working out the math and science for my planet Beinan before I started writing even the first chapter. Without that work, I couldn’t know what color the sky was or why my characters thought and acted the way they do. I had to do my homework.
But here’s the secret for all of you thinking about writing a book of your own someday: the work I spent in that first month saved me enormous effort later in the process. It allowed my characters to flow across the page. During much of book one, “The Great Succession Crisis” I felt like a court reporter, just writing down what people said and did. Taking the time to build my foundation made all the difference in the world.
Of course you are really the best judge of how well I did. Perhaps I did a terrible job in your eyes. I don’t know. But I do know that as someone who loves literature, loves science, loves history, and loves learning above all else that at the end of the day what is on the page is something I feel comfortable with sharing with all of you. With all my heart, I hope you will grace me by visiting my planet Beinan yourself. Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today. I am deeply honored by your presence!
--Laurel A. Rockefeller
Author, “The Peers of Beinan” trilogy
Thanks Laurel and good luck with your writing endeavors!
You can check out her books on Amazon
'Ghosts of the Past' releasing 2013