My Books

Links to sellers of these books, in both digital and paperback formats, can be found below on right-hand side of the page.

Now Available in Paperback and for Kindle

It was only meant to be a few hours of fun.
A lark. On a sunny Saturday morning Lola, Kyle and Maria set sail on Puget Sound to look for a vision that had come to Maria in a dream. Then disaster struck, and the three of them were plunged into a dark adventure in which they would confront good and evil, past lives, and a timeless curse born from a tragic love. What are the hidden secrets of Bridge House and Riesgado Island? Part Gothic romance, part supernatural mystery and part fantastical adventure, The Curse of Septimus Bridge is Scott R. Larson’s homage to the horror and adventure stories of his youth, notably the 1960s television series Dark Shadows. In this new book, the author of The Three Towers of Afranor takes us on an adventure that ranges from 17th-century Ireland to the Pacific Northwest of today. At the heart of it all is the mysterious figure who lives out his endless, solitary days, having been rejected by both heaven and hell.

“This is a sequel to Larson’s earlier novel, ‘Maximilian and Carlotta are Dead’, which was set mostly in Mexico as a buddy adventure and introduced the character of Dallas Green, a young man with wanderlust from a small town in the San Joaquin Valley. ‘Lautaro’s Spear’ takes us on further romantic and political adventures to France, Germany, and Chile, and deeper into Dallas’ psyche which we find to be darker and more complex than in the first novel. An engrossing read by a first class storyteller, it leaves you wanting more.”

“Totally enjoyed the characters lost souls that they are. Life is not always what we would like.”


Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on Amazon.com


A legendary reclusive filmmaker. An enigmatic cook and restaurant proprietor, who is clearly more than he seems. Two mysterious deliveries to be made behind the Iron Curtain. A desperate search for a long-missing old friend. An unexpected love affair on the coast of Normandy. Dallas Green’s life has only gotten more interesting since his wild youthful adventures recounted in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead.
“I loved this book. It is a rollicking fantasy—youth must pass increasingly difficult tests to attain wisdom and perhaps, just perhaps, win the girl! A pure joy to read. And such a great metaphor for life!”

“It was a great read for young adults as well as adults. Can’t wait for the sequel.”

“A fantasy novel with magic and heart. It’s a quick read that is set up for a sequel. A great story about growing up and learning what you are capable of and it’s clean so it can be recommended to all ages!”


Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on Amazon.com

What secrets do the three towers hold? For years travelers have avoided the mysterious kingdom of Afranor, but necessity now requires three brothers—the valiant fighting princes of Alinvayl—to pass through Afranor’s dark, forbidding expanse. Not all will survive the journey, but one may succeed in finding his destiny.

“I loved this book! Once I started I couldn’t put it down… What an adventurous way to come-of-age in a place in time that no longer exists. Truly a great read!”

“Larson really captures the sense of a particular time and place. His details of clothes, music, cars, speech, etc. all ring true. Also, the first-person narrator’s voice is pitch-perfect…”

“Scott Larson does a magnificent job of taking his readers on a southern trip with the three young heroes.”

“What a wild and crazy adventure! … The characters were all very well developed; I especially loved Antonio, the star and the hero. Looking forward to the sequel.”


Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on Amazon.com


It is Summer 1971. With the Vietnam War raging and the draft looming, 18-year-old Dallas and Lonnie look for an escape. Fleeing their hot and dusty farming town in Lonnie’s ’65 Chevy, they head to Mexico. In one last misguided adventure, two lifelong friends blaze a trail to Tijuana and beyond, just to see how much trouble they can get it into.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Back on the Apology Train

How times flies. This month marks five years since the release of the paperback version of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. That half-decade certainly went by quickly.

The paperback’s appearance followed by nearly three months the book’s debut in Kindle format. As with my latest book, The Curse of Septimus Bridge, I initially published the electronic version of Max & Carly exclusively for the Kindle. That exclusivity period ended three months later with the appearance of other digital versions in other online stores.

The paperback version of Max & Carly was actually something of an afterthought. I had bought into the idea that paper books were on the way out and the future was digital and so had not bothered with a physical edition. Enough people, however, kept asking for a paperback that I finally gave in—and happily so in the end. Still, Kindle sales of my books have always outpaced paperback sales—at least so far. I have to say that at this point the paper edition of Septimus is performing with surprising strength vis-à-vis the digital version.

This month also marks four years since the beginning of my first book apology tour. Partly tongue-in-cheek, partly sincere, the tour was my attempt to make amends to anyone who might have found offense in the narrative—notably bad language and extensive incidences of somewhat toxic adolescent masculinity.

Happily, there is not nearly as much toxic masculinity in The Curse of Septimus Bridge, but inevitably, there are things that could rub some people the wrong way. Allow me now to enumerate them and preemptively excuse myself.

Gender Appropriation: Unlike my first three novels, the main character—and several others—are female. This made writing the book a satisfying experience for me because it was a welcome change of pace writing-wise and an invigorating challenge for my creative abilities. At the same time, I am aware that there are people out there who feel strongly that characters of certain nationalities, ethnicities, and yes, genders should not be appropriated by others. If that is how you feel, I am sorry. For the record, I myself personally prefer to read female characters written by females, but on the other hand, I am also a believer that there should be no limits on artistic creativity. All people should be able to write about or play on the stage or in film any character. In my next book, though, I will be back to my mostly masculine-centric ways.

Nationality Appropriation: While I am at it, then, I suppose I better apologize once again for attempting to portray Irish characters. The fact that I have lived in Ireland for 17 years and am married to an Irish woman does not give me any right to put words (awkwardly and inauthentically) in the mouths of fictional Irish people. It gets worse. In this particular book I also appropriate some of the most painful episodes in Irish history for the entertainment of my readers. And it gets worse still. I also owe apologies to the English, Canadians, and Russians and, while I’m at it, Anabaptists, Puritans, and demons from hell (who may actually be more sensitive than one might assume).

Possible Transgender Insensitivity: There are no transgender characters in the book (that we know of anyway), but there is one sort-of reference in the very first chapter in which the main character, Lola Blumquist, expresses a dislike for the Kinks’ song with which she shares a name. “Well, I mean, it’s not really fair,” she says to Maria Murphy as they discuss eponymous record tracks. “You get a song that goes on and on about how totally cool Maria is, and I get the song about a transvestite.” Responds Maria insightfully, “Transvestites can be cool.” You can reasonably argue that modern young women like Lola and Maria would be more likely to refer to the song’s Lola as transgender, whereas transvestite would have been a more common description when the song was first released in 1970. Of course, transgender and transvestite are not the same thing. My Lola seems to assume that the Kinks’ Lola was a cis-gender man who happened to like dressing in women’s clothing rather than a woman who happened to be born in a man’s body. Is she correct? Only Ray Davies knows for sure, and even by his account he had done a fair amount of drinking when he came up with the lyrics. (A man after my own heart.) There is more dicey stuff about gender as the story proceeds, but that would involve spoilers. In any event and in all sincerity, no offense was intended.

Insensitivity to the locals: I do not imagine that residents of the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle will have taken offense to how it was portrayed in the book. The residents of Riesgado Island, on the other hand, will probably be far less forgiving. Even less clear, though, is how people along the Galway-Mayo border are taking it. My wife, who never reads my books until a proof copy of the paperback arrives by post, was aghast to find a few local place names littered about the text. “The neighbours won’t like it if you draw Satanists on them,” she warned. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping they will keep things in perspective. In the history of film and literature, I think other foreign writers have done much worse to the Irish. I do not think I quite tipped over into Darby O’Gill territory. Probably the biggest chance I took was having the title character be a fawning admirer of Oliver Cromwell.

There are probably other things I should apologize for, but that will suffice for now. If you have not read The Curse of Septimus Bridge, please do so now and let me know which part in particular offended you.

Monday, August 26, 2019

From Minnie to Marilyn to Author

Sometimes it seems as though all I do on this blog is talk about my book(s), but I guess that kind of makes sense since this is, after all, my book blog. Once in a while, though, for a change of pace I like to talk about someone else’s book. This is such an occasion.

Back in January, through the magic of social media, I got re-acquainted with someone I had not heard from or about since I was in high school with her. She re-connected with me because she had noticed that I had been writing and publishing books. Like a lot of people, she had been wanting to write her own life story. In fact, she had already written the first chapter—thirty years earlier. But like a lot of people, that was as far as she had gotten. If she was going to finish her book and get it published, she would need some advice and—I think perhaps more importantly—some encouragement. Fortunately for her, I could offer plenty of both.

Now, just seven months later, Marilyn J. Thomas’s labor and efforts have borne fruit. She has just published her memoir, which is called From Minnie to Marilyn. It tells her story from beginning to now, from her earliest memories in California to her current life in Oklahoma. And it is a rather extraordinary life. Born to a mother that could not care for her, she was raised by her grandmother, who passed away when Minniejean (as she was then known) was just a toddler, casting her into the foster care system.

As a writer, Marilyn has a gift for allowing us to experience the memories seared into her brain and to see events from her point of view in the relevant time and place. In spite of the serious disadvantages life threw at her early on, she persevered not only to become the first of her family to graduate from high school but to become one of two student speakers at her graduation ceremony. Her story is of particular interest to me not only because she and I come from the same place but also because it is fascinating to see rural California in the 1950s and 1960s through the eyes of an African-American. As it turns out, she also has a connection to my current home in that one of her great-great-grandfathers was slaveholder descended from Irish immigrants, so she is also Irish-American.

Despite her early educational success, much more lay in store for Marilyn—some of it happy, some of it harrowing. As she herself writes, “I had literally lived three lives in one. Yes, I had survived two marriages, the death of a child, and about three near-death-like experiences. I had lost two sets of parents—my grandparents, Mother Wesley, and my parents who raised me—but I felt that through it all I had been blessed.”

I am so proud of and happy for Marilyn that she undertook and completed this project. I know well from my own experience that writing a book is an extremely daunting task. When it is your own life story that you are telling, there is a major burden of dealing with feelings of vulnerability as you reveal so many details of your life—some of them quite intimate—for all to see.

A memoir like this is not only a lovely legacy to leave to one’s family (you can see four generations of Marilyn’s family on the book cover), but it can also provide an educational and thought-provoking experience for other readers as well.

Way to go, Marilyn!

You can find From Minnie to Marilyn on Amazon.com. You can click on this link for the paperback version , and you can click on this link for the Kindle version.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Over the Hill

I have a problem with genres. I think I pretty well established that back when I wrote about how I could not get my head around the idea of the popular YA (Young Adult) genre. Having done that, of course, I then inexplicably went on to write what is to all intents and purposes a YA novel.

The Curse of Septimus Bridge is my second fantasy novel. The first one was The Three Towers of Afranor. Was it also a YA novel? I suppose, although it is not really like most of the examples I have seen of the YA genre. What is the difference between Afranor and Septimus? Well, mainly it boils down to the fact that Afranor takes place in an imaginary world (spoiler alert: it’s called Afranor) and Septimus takes place in our own recognizable world, specifically in Seattle, Vancouver, London, and Galway. But they both involve magic and the supernatural.

How do they differ from what I call my “odd” novels? Those are Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead and Lautaro’s Spear, and I refer to them as odd not because they are strange or unusual but because in the order my books have been written those are the ones which have numbers not evenly divisible by two. And in what genre do my odd novels fall? Well, there’s the rub. Depending on the context I have variously designated them as “adventure,” “coming of age,” “historical fiction,” and my personal favorite catch-all category, “literary fiction.”

If I were clever, I would have used a pseudonym for my fantasy novels. I am sure it is confusing for people wanting to pigeonhole me as a particular kind of writer to settle on what the “Scott R. Larson” brand is. But I do not use a pen name. I use the same name for everything I write. If you pick up a Scott R. Larson novel at random, you do not know what you are going to get. Kind of like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. It might be about something about dragons and sorcerers. Or it might be something about 18-year-olds driving to Mexico in an old Chevy.

If I had planned things correctly, the name Scott R. Larson would be clearly identified exclusively with literary fiction and Bildungsromans, while if you were seeking a good fantasy book, you would know to look for the name (I just found this on an online random-author-pseudonym generator) Griffin Opel Johnson. Would you be more likely to pick up The Curse of Septimus Bridge if it was written by Griffin Opel Johnson? I know I would.

So there are drawbacks to using one’s own name on one’s own books. There are also drawbacks to using real places—as I did in Septimus—in your book as opposed to just making up places—as I did in Afranor. For example, if you set your book in Seattle, you run the risk of some reader writing to tell you, “Hey, there is no Metro bus running from that street to that other street.” Or “There is no possible way you can sail from Shilshole to such-and-such place in just a couple of hours.”

It gets even trickier if you start using places in the West of Ireland. For example, my wife—who never reads my book until after they are actually published—was aghast to find some local place names mentioned. “You are going to draw Satanists on us,” she insisted. “The neighbors won’t like that.” You never hear people in Seattle complain about Satanists being drawn on them.

In particular Cnoc Meadha, an imposing hill in County Galway, gets singled out as a specific point of earthly contact with the demon world. Do people in the area mind me tagging that place with an unhallowed reputation? No one has complained yet, but that could well be because they have not seen the book. Personally, I think they might actually welcome some notoriety. There is an ongoing Knockma Hill Project (Knockma being the common modern version of the hill’s name) to implement improvements and a new trail. The project is driven by the Caherlistrane-Kilcoona Community Council and funded by a grant under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme supplemented by the local Community Council. Additional money was raised by a Christmas concert in December by well-known singer and musician Seán Keane and his band.

Publicity can help raise money, and no publicity is bad publicity, right?

The accompanying photos were taken at Knockma during a morning walk a few weeks ago. For the record, no demons were encountered.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Art of the Novel

I have lived with The Curse of Septimus Bridge for about fifty years now. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. Like the title character, I am literally from another century.

The book’s title is relatively new, but the story goes back a long ways. And in a sense, it actually predates me. I frankly admit there is little original in it other than my own personal worldview and sensibilities and literary filter. As I acknowledge in the dedication, a lot of the story ideas are heavily influenced by my beloved 1960s supernatural Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Viewers of that series will know well that the literary lineage does not stop there. Creator/producer Dan Curtis populated his show with plots from all kinds of horror/supernatural literary classics—everything from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and many more.

If fans of Doctor Who want to focus on the fact that the title character is from another time and takes on a young companion with her own mystery, well, I will not dissuade you from that line of thinking either.

On top of all that, some events and people in the book are actually real, that is, they are from history. My fictional characters do sometimes interact with people who actually lived.

Finally hitting the page, it is quite a different story in 2019 than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, at least in terms of the characters. Its soul may be in the Victorian age, but I have tried to put its feet squarely in the 21st century.

Having kept quiet about the story during the actual writing of the book, which only happened over the past couple of years, I stored up a lot of things I wanted to share about my thoughts and intentions and where the inspiration for a particular thing came from. The irony is that, by this point, I have already moved on mentally. The next installment of Dallas Green’s story beckons. Moreover, I am hesitant to give away too much about the story (not a great strategy for selling books, I know) because, if I were now reading it for the first time, there are things I would not want to have spoiled. Still, I will see if there are a few more things I can safely share.

One thing I can share is my excitement over the cover art. The artist’s name is Tamlyn Zawalich, and I was so delighted when I first saw her work that my immediate reaction was to regret that some of it would inevitably have to be covered up with boring, distracting things like the book title and my own name.

So that you have the same pleasure that I did and do not have to try to imagine the original illustration, I share it with you here. Enjoy.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Book No. 4 Is Out Now!

After months of gnawing thirst, I have finally broken out the Writer’s Tears cask-strength Irish whiskey!

That’s right. I have finally released another book. My proof copy arrived today, and it didn’t look completely terrible. So it’s a go. My fourth novel is now out there in the various distribution channels.

It is called The Curse of Septimus Bridge, and this is the one I have been telling you about, well, for years. This is the Gothic romance/supernatural thriller/magical adventure yarn I have been meaning to write for practically my whole life. As I have oft described it, it is my homage to the 1960s daytime horror serial Dark Shadows. It is the book I always wanted to read, but never quite managed to find anywhere—at least not written the way I wanted it written.

My fellow Dark Shadows fans will recognize certain elements. Two young women find themselves in an isolated, creepy, old house under mysterious circumstances. There is a brooding figure with a dark, mysterious past. There is love—or something more sinister?—reaching from beyond the grave. There are lots of crashing sea waves.

But it is not just a knock-off or imitation of a Dark Shadows plot. It is ultimately an adventure saga and a tale about finding oneself. It is a story of friendships. It is about coming to terms with the past and then moving on toward the future.

This is my second fantasy novel, after The Three Towers of Afranor. Unlike that one, however, this takes place in our own recognizable world. I have managed to draw in two different places that are meaningful to me—America’s Pacific Northwest and the West of Ireland. I have also populated it with characters unlike the ones I have created for my other books.

You can find the paperback version of The Curse of Septimus Bridge right now on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. It is also—or should be soon—available from all other major online sellers. I will do my best to keep the links on the right-hand side of this page updated.

As for a version you can read on your preferred digital gadget, right now is available from Amazon for Kindle devices and apps. Because the vast majority of my books’ readers have acquired them for Kindle, I have decided to exclusively with Amazon for the digital version—at least for the first three months. If I become aware of demand for Kobo, Nook, iBook, etc., I will consider supporting those as well when my arrangement with Amazon is up for renewal, but experience suggests we are in simply a Kindle-dominated e-book world. And Amazon just makes it so much easier to serve Kindle customers when you sell through them exclusively.

There is lots more to say about Septimus Bridge (did I mention I was excited about it?), but there will be time for that in the days and weeks to come. For now, I’ll just say how happy I am to have such a cool cover, which was created by the talented Tamlyn Zawalich.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Haunted

As we ambled through the New Mexico desert, we talked about our favorite books.

We knew, all too sadly, this would probably be our last time with my cousin Trudy’s husband. What we did not know was that it would be our penultimate visit with Trudy herself. Thoughts like those, in any event, were not on our minds as we explored the Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque in the January sun.

She wanted to know what novels were closest to my heart. The first few titles—The Lord of the Rings, One Hundred Years of Solitude—would have been unsurprising to her. Then I mentioned Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and there was an awkward silence. Trudy, an enrollee at Caltech the very first year they admitted women, would have been the last person to trade in gender stereotypes, so I had not expected her, after some hesitation, to say, “You do realize that would be considered a girl’s book?”

And suddenly I was back in junior high school. Back to a time when there were “boys’ books” and “girls’ books.” As far as I was always concerned, there were just books. Some books I liked, and some books I did not. Not everybody liked the same books I did, and I did not necessarily like the same books other people did. Maybe gender was a factor in some cases, but certainly not in all. All I know is that when I saw the cover of Brontë’s novel on a shelf in our local library, it appealed to me. There was a man and a woman and stormy weather. There was passion. I read the first several pages, and there was a ghost. What was not to like?

This should come as no surprise to readers of my movie blog, who have suffered through more than two decades’ worth of discussions and reminiscences of the 1966-71 Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows which, to be honest, was nothing if not a half-decade-long rehash of Wuthering Heights and every other Gothic novel and supernatural story ever published. Readers of that blog may also think they detect a disconnect, since I have sometimes used that forum to dismiss certain movies as “chick flicks.” The truth is, though, that I have always intended that term as descriptive shorthand—so that readers would know what to expect from a film—rather than as a definitive put-down. If that phrase is a criticism, it is of a too-strict adherence to formula and not because the story includes female characters or might appeal to female viewers.

My fourth novel, which should see the light of day in the coming weeks, is among other things my tribute to the Gothic novel. It is a story I have been wanting to get out of my system for most of my life. It is also my first book to feature a female protagonist. In fact, I have only recently realized that this is the first of my books to pass the Bechdel Test. Originally a gag in a 1985 comic strip, the test was originally aimed at movies but has since been generalized to apply to all popular fiction. It requires the work to have at least two (named) female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. It is not something that is usually on my mind when watching movies, let alone when I write my novels, but it comes as no surprise to realize that my first three books came nowhere near passing the test. For one thing, two of them have a male first-person narrator.

The other, The Three Towers of Afranor, while narrated in the third person, follows its male protagonist relentlessly. Ironically, though, it probably would have passed if only I had followed the suggestion of a (male) friend who was keen for me to work in a quasi-erotic wrestling match between the warrior princess Eilís and the pirate queen Valloniah. Those two would only have needed to mutter a few words to each other in the heat of battle—and on a topic other than their lone mutual acquaintance, Prince Chrysteffor—to clear the bar. But would that really be in the spirit of the standard popularized by Alison Bechdel? Maybe. Personally, I find such a test interesting but not particularly useful or practical.

It was definitely a challenge to create and give life to characters who are not only female but also of a generation different from mine, but that was not the reason for this particular story. It was to spin a supernatural romance my own way. As usual, I ignored all writing conventional wisdom by not targeting a distinct target audience—other than myself. As always, I wrote a book that I wanted to read. Is the result a “girl’s book” or a “boy’s book”? When you are writing for yourself, that question happily becomes moot.

Sadly, my cousin passed away within mere days of the publication of my first novel, so she never got to read any of my fiction. Given her nature, I imagine she would have been supportive but not uncritical. I also doubt she would have labeled it a “girl’s book.”

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bilbo in the Banner County?

Have you ever had one of those moments when you slap yourself on the head and exclaim, “How did I possibly get to the age I am without knowing that?”

Actually, it happens to me quite a bit, but there was a particularly striking example last week when we drove down to County Clare for an overnight stay. Clare is one of Ireland’s most scenic counties, and it is famous for the Burren, an otherworldly landscape dominated by distinctive limestone hills. (By the way, if you find yourself on Clare’s Atlantic coast, I can heartily recommend the Hotel Doolin, and be sure not to miss the nightly music seisiún at Fitzpatrick’s.) The accompanying recent photos may give some idea of the magic of the place.

In our room there was one of those books that are provided to familiarize you with local tourist attractions and area history. As I perused the tome, I came across something that grabbed my attention. It asserted that, in his creation of Middle-earth, J.R.R. Tolkien had been inspired by the Burren! This led me immediately to an internet investigation, which revealed that the author of The Lord of the Rings had indeed visited Clare while employed as an external examiner at National University Galway (as it was then known). How did I possibly not know that? That meant that one of my all-time favorite authors, for brief periods, had lived just down the road from me. He spent five summers in Galway between 1949 and 1959.

I mean, I knew the basic facts of the life of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, or at least I thought I did. Born in South Africa in 1892, he and his family moved when he was three back to England, where he grew up in Birmingham. During World War I he served with the British Army in France and participated in the Battle of the Somme. Afterwards he was employed in a number of academic posts leading to his becoming Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College in Oxford. His field was philology (study of language in oral and written historical sources), and he was particularly known for his translation of the Old English epic poem Beowulf. I still remember how I grieved when, as a newly arrived student in France in 1973, I read in Time of his passing at the age of 81.

I had completely missed the Ireland connection. Apparently, he was an examiner at University College Dublin as well, and he received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland in 1954. A 2012 item on the Journal.ie website reports that archivists at NUI Galway uncovered summer exams from 1949 that he had graded. Topics included Shakespeare, the novels of Walter Scott, “poetic justice and the hard facts of life,” and the preternatural in literature. “We wonder,” posed the article, “if a bad mark led to Tolkien writing ‘you shall not pass’ on the exam papers?” Ouch.

The Ireland.com website tells of a Burren Society Tolkien Symposium that was held six years ago. It was organized by publican Peter Curtin, who had spoken with a Ms. Crowe, who had worked for many years for a Dr. Martyn. He had been friends with Tolkien and explored the Burren with him. “Amongst the craggy fissures and creeping woods of the Burren,” writes Ireland.com, “there is a cave called Pol na Gollum (Hole of Gollum).” A 2012 article in the Connacht Tribune also tells of Tolkien’s time in Galway, saying that he enjoyed frequent trips with his friend NUIG English Professor Diarmuid Murphy (did Mr. Curtin get the name wrong?) to the Burren and Connemara.

So that is definite proof, right? The West of Ireland had a significant influence on the creation of Middle-earth. But hold on. A 2015 item on the Irish republican website An Sionnach Fionn (The White Fox) says, “No, The Lord of the Rings was not inspired by the regions of Clare or Galway, not even in part. The vast majority of the saga was written between 1937 and 1949, well before J.R.R. Tolkien ever set foot in Ireland, let alone the Burren.” The article goes on to assert that Tolkien’s manuscript was all but finished by 1948. It further notes that Middle-earth was first described in The Hobbit, which was published in 1937. Amusingly, the first reader-contributed comment under An Sionnach Fionn’s post reads, “Shhhhhh……We need tourists.”

So maybe Ireland was not that much of an influence on Tolkien’s works after all. Still, I defy anybody to spend time in the West of Ireland and not come away with the distinct impression that this place is somehow connected to the way society works in the Shire.

Anyway, I do know a couple of things for certain. Ireland is definitely having an influence on my writing. And J.R.R. Tolkien has definitely had a strong influence on it as well—especially on my book The Three Towers of Afranor. The same is also true of my fourth book which, with any luck, may see the light of day sometime this year.