It was with great surprise that a few days ago, a reader wrote a rather scathing review about one of my books. They claimed that I had taken ideas and words from JK Rowling, the Hobbit and (of all the strangest things, the movie Willow), when writing The Wizard’s Magic Kingdom. While a bit of a back-handed compliment to be likened to these works, it was also a terrible and unfair claim and it took me several minutes of staring blankly at the computer screen before I began to recover from the shock of it.
I was filled with a sense of incredulity as I have never read, nor seen any of JK Rowling’s books or movies. I disliked the trailers, I know I am in the minority here, but they just never appealed to me. I have also neither read, nor seen the books or movies of the Hobbit (although I have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy). Regarding the movie Willow, I have seen it but for the life of me I couldn’t see any links at all from that storyline and mine, so go figure on that one.
Then it began to dawn upon me, the ‘words’ that sounded familiar to the reader could be the ‘magical ones’, but they are all real Latin words that I have carefully researched for their authenticity. Ownership of the ‘ancient dead language’ of Latin does not belong to any one specific author and I have no idea what JK Rowling used, whether her words were real Latin words (or just made-up ones that sound Latin) but as I have never seen, nor read her works, I don’t know and I really don’t care either way. Having studied Latin as a child, it is a language that I am both familiar with and one that I love, so it was a logical process for me to incorporate it inside my books.
The problem I believe is that some readers do not read the (what I consider to be) the very clear statement in the beginning of my books that they are penned as a tribute to ancient Celtic, Norse and Greek mythology. I love all aspects of authentic antiquity and weave this into my books and this includes my love of Latin. Nobody should be able to claim sole ownership of an entire language, because if they did, it would soon become impossible to write any books at all.
The Dying Gaul
The Dying Gaul is one of the most famous works from antiquity,an ancient Roman sculpture created during the first or second century AD. It portrays a Gallic warrior in his final moments as he dies from a fatal wound in his chest.
I like this picture, and for some reason when reading the recent review I thought about it. Now don’t get me wrong, a) I like to wear clothes and b) I haven’t been given a fatal wound and I’m therefore not about to ‘snuff it’. However, it does make me feel a bit like him when I realise that for some readers, hundreds of hours of research into ancient antiquity has been entirely wasted. Of course, the reader could have been referring to something entirely different too. For example, the Nemedians may have sounded familiar, but again, they are researched and were the mythical people of Nemed, one of the earliest settlers of Ireland who were descended from Noah through Magog. The reader may have thought that the People of the Goddess Danu sounded familiar, again researched. Your guess is as good as mine as to what they were referring to, as they gave absolutely no example in their review for me to respond to and put the record straight. So I shall just respond with a clear and simple statement: my books are a tribute to antiquity (a combination of mythology and reality) and are the result of hundreds of hours of real research.
As I write this now, I am more retrospective and I realise that for every reader that doesn’t recognise the research undertaken to write my books, there will be readers that do, and for that I am grateful.