|My magnum opus: Eyes Of The Eagle|
The very first 'book' that I wrote, at the age of nine or 10, was a science-fiction one entitled Tim's Planetary Police, about my primary school peers and I as - unsurprisingly - an interplanetary police force.
At the time I was unsure of the spelling of "planetary" and so the cover was abridged to "Tim's P.P." - which some wag claimed stood for "Tim's Private Parts".
Another unfortunate aspect of the book was that I decided to illustrate it myself (as I said last week, when at secondary school, an art teacher described me as the "most artistically inept pupil he had ever taught") and so the 'portal' between our solar system and the next ended up looking more like a sphincter than a Stargate.
Sadly, for posterity, that particular note book of scribbles has been lost, either consigned to a landfill or recycled into toilet paper.
My next effort at writing, however, was far more ambitious. I guess around this time - the mid-'70s - I'd just been introduced to the works of JRR Tolkien and so I began my youthful homage (ie. blatant rip-off): The Eyes Of The Eagle.
Eyes was a four-part story (ie four exercise books stapled together and bound with a paper 'dust cover', glued round the outer books) - One More Battle, The Army, Raymor's Evil and The Eagle Is Slain - begun in 1976 and finished on October 29, 1977 (the date is recorded on the back of the 'dust cover').
This being a Lord Of The Rings clone, it wouldn't have been complete without my 10-year-old's attempt to crib my favourite bit of LOTR: the appendices.
Eyes had a number of short essays at the back on:
- "the sword" (the magic sword central to the story, imaginatively named 'the sword');
- "runes" (random doodles and their alphabetical equivalents);
- "orders and laws of the land" (basically a racial power structure with elves on top, men and dwarves of equal standing and then hobbits on the bottom tier);
- "kings and stewards of Rowdor" (historical rulers of a central city from the story);
- "the Hillhatches" (a family tree and origin story for the central family of dwarves from Eyes Of The Eagle)
- and some biographies of sundry other characters from the tale (King Acurst, Rucsan, Norlion, Brokenspear, and San Chin).
The 247-page, hand-scrawled story follows the exploits of the younger members of a family of dwarf miners - Noddy, Sammy, Bilbo, Sidney, Rodney, Ben and their sister Mary - who get turned around while camping in a nearby forest and instead of spending their five-week holiday with their Uncle Sam end up entangled in a series of random, cataclysmic events that ultimately decide the fate of The Land.
Everything happens at a breakneck pace with - of course - no character development and increasingly oddly-spelled names.
All this is interspersed with puerile songs - my attempts at Tolkienesque poetry, but more influenced by nursery rhymes and playground chants - and random battle descriptions.
Needless to say, The Eyes Of The Eagle has yet to be submitted for publication, although some of the place names have endured through several Dungeons And Dragons campaigns, including my 2008 Tekralh setting (which saw the return of innkeeper Fumbly Weed among other Eyes alumni)... and will continue to pop up in future games when I run short of inspiration.
As far as I can remember, Eyes Of The Eagle was my only attempt at writing a fantasy novel. Later juvenile scribblings returned to the broad church of science-fiction with a series of future crime/private eye novels; a lot of Star Wars-ish space opera; several post-apocalyptic epics that rambled on and on but were never finished and at least one collection of 'amusing' stories about anthropomorphic animals.