Today is the Twelvety-Sixth Birthday of one of the Founding Fathers of modern fantasy. Many of our authors were inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien so we put out a quick call to ask what Tolkien means to them.
I was introduced to The Hobbit in seventh grade, and I’ve read it as well as The Lord of the Rings multiple times since. I love so much about it, the unique characters, the setting, and the action. One of my favorite scenes didn’t make it in the movies. It’s when Faramir is with Frodo and Sam in the stronghold behind a waterfall, and Sam lets it slip what Frodo is carrying. I simply adore how Faramir handles it.
For years, I refused to list JRR Tolkien among my influences. Not because I didn't admire him, but because I revered him too much to claim any relation to him. In my mind he was utterly unique and untouchable. No one had ever done what he did; no one ever could again.
Last year, I re-read THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS after a ten-year hiatus. It was a special experience for many reasons, but one thing that struck me was how deeply I *have* been influenced by him, without ever meaning to be. His love of beauty, his distrust of raw power, the temptation he sensed to love too deeply the things he had made - as Feanor loved the Silmarils - are all things that have sunk deep into the landscape of my imagination.
Yes, I've been influenced by Tolkien. I want to admit that as humbly as I can: not because I'm a great enough author to touch him, but because he was a great enough author to touch me.
Suzannah Rowntree, author of Pendragon's Heir.
Unlike many fantasy lovers and authors, I wasn't introduced to Tolkien until my college years. However, it didn't take long for me to jump into the world and be enthralled. In the years since, the family has enjoyed the books (I read them outloud to everyone around the dinner table), the movies (both in theaters and extended versions), and various representations from both (I made quilts for my boys, and one son has a Narsil blade). If you'd like to learn how to write your own name in Sindarian, you can check out my blog from last year's birthday of Lord of the Rings. You can also see photos of the quilts.
Kandi J Wyatt, author of the Dragon Courage series
Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were some of the first fantasy books I ever read. Over the years, I have returned to these favorites and learned new things every time I read them. These books taught me that size, position, authority, and status have no bearing on the courage in one’s heart, but that heroes can come from anywhere. They taught me that old bitternesses can be laid aside and covered in forgiveness for the sake of a greater cause. They displayed the truth that even the mightiest may fall prey to temptation, and that even the strongest temptation can be overcome and atoned for. And they give me hope by reminding me when times get hard and I am tempted to despair because evil seems so prevalent and far-reaching that “there is good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
I'm also grateful he was a critique partner for CS Lewis. I was able to study abroad in England one summer, all filled with his writing and got to see the pub where they met, and where he lived. Here's a post I wrote about it.
Elizabeth Van Tassel
Tolkien is one of the main reasons I wanted to write fantasy. His way with words is just amazing, even though some people say he is dry. I love his different stories and the languages and time he put into each story. I'd like to be able to do that with my own writing. And I like how the "heroes" aren't always the ones high up there, but the small and simple ones who most people would overlook.
Tolkien inspired me so much with his world building. Not only did he create locations I could hear, smell, and see with his descriptions, the man invented languages! As a language enthusiast, that absolutely fascinates me. His attention to detail provided a lot of inspiration as I wrote the Charming Academy series.
Jessica L. Elliott
I adore his world building and . . . well, almost everything about his writing. But his world building is SO DEEP. Thousands of years of history before the story even begins. Other epics building up to this one. It's . . . magical. :D
LotR is what inspired me to start writing, way back when. I was re-reading it when I thought, "Man, I wish I could write like that." And the Scots/Irish part of me stood up (in my mind) and said, "Well, how do you know you can't? You haven't tried, have you?" That was back in college and those first attempts were . . . I have to remember to burn those. I didn't stick with it, then, but I came back around to writing, eventually. And I'm sure glad I did. But, if Tolkien hadn't inspired me to at least try it back then, who knows?
One of many things I appreciate about Tolkien is how, from childhood, he used fantasy to understand and cope with the pain in his own life (and helped me do the same in my fantasy). I really admire his talent for learning obscure languages and making up his own.
Katy Huth Jones
Friendship! Sam and Frodo's friendship is the best part of the LOTR story to me. Especially Sam's devotion to Frodo, making him willing to go anywhere and endure anything for a friend. I hope to depict that type of friendship and devotion in my current WIP, Aerisian Refrain.
Honestly, Tolkien influenced my personal life a lot more than my writing. I'd never think of trying to write like Tolkien, but dang it, when I dreamed up the perfect spouse, I wanted a tall, dark, rangy, silent guy who I could believably see leading an army of undead ... so I married a 6'5'' Marine.
The Lord of the Rings also opened me up to the idea of both epic adventures and experiencing the world and loving the idea of hearth and home and protecting that. Eventually I discovered that those ideas really aren't in conflict the way people might have you think. It's admirable to strive for both.
H. L. Burke
A blog about all things fantasy from the elements we all love to how to write it. Posts are from our very own Fellowship of Fantasy authors.