Dispatches from the writing front # 6: The Eternal Cave of Children’s Books

The “dispatches” series usually ends up on my other blog, but this post is manga-related. Connie’s been doing some research, finding setting references to fire her imagination, and last night we were talking about caves and looking at cave images here and there. I’ve always had a fascination with caves, as well as mountains, and they (caves and mountains both) do tend to get into my stories a lot. Connie was looking for a good place for the devil Ogada to have been imprisoned, he being the one “in stone”. Some of the pictures she found for inspiration really seemed to hit on what I’d had in mind for the sacred place of the god Narva in Blackdog, even though I hadn’t seen images of that particular cave before. (It’s the Dirou caves, if you’re interested — but you have to imagine all the little tourist boats away.) Anyway, aside from the big shallow cave at St. Martin’s, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a real cave. I was thinking about what my prototypical cave was and the answer, of course, is that it’s the eternal cave of children’s books. In England, and I know this from extensive childhood reading, you can hardly go out the back door without finding a useful cave, ideal for headquarters for your gang, for camping in, or, if on the coast, full of smugglers and/or German spies, depending on era. It’s a Rule. (Just like, dogs always come when called and growl only at villains or stout policemen on bicycles.) But my prototypical cave is from Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. The underground bits of that gave me shivery, fascinated thrills when I was a kid and they still do today. That, my friends, is a cave. Stone, water, darkness . . . pursuing Svarts. That’s what’s always in the back of my mind when I think about caves. I was an adult, researching my big history of children’s fantasy literature, Quests and Kingdoms, when I discovered that Garner’s caves were real. They’re actually Bronze Age and Roman mines. It’s hard to describe how exciting that was. Something awe-inspiring I had thought was fiction was real.


About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at thewildforest.wordpress.com
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One Response to Dispatches from the writing front # 6: The Eternal Cave of Children’s Books

  1. Pingback: Dispatches # 6: The Eternal Cave – brought to you by the MangaSaga | From the Wild Forest – Thoughts on a Writing Life

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