Everyone, please put your hands together for, Eric Tanafon, the Author of “Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head.” Okay, Eric, you have the comm.
Being misplanted in TX, USA, I enjoy hearing about where guest authors live. Where do you live?
I’ve lived in various places across the U.S.—New York State, California, Colorado, Washington—but for some reason I wound up in New Hampshire. It might have something to do with there being a strong libertarian streak here, plus lots of earth energy (all that granite!) and lots of old houses. It’s also nice to have four seasons, and see the leaves really turn color in the fall.
Sounds like a beautiful place to live. Do you have children, a significant other, or pets?
My wife and I have five children still at home, and thee cats. And a gerbil. It’s a pretty full house. Incidentally, most of our children are also writers. Sometimes I think we’re a bit like the Brontes, only without the madness and consumption and that dark, haunted thing going on.
Nothing like a full house with lots of positive energy. If I came to your home and looked inside the refrigerator, what would I find?
Real food—free-range meat and eggs, sprouted wheat bread, organic vegetables, raw milk. Things that Robin Hood and his men would have recognized as food!
Set another plate, I’m on my way. 😉 What do you like to read?
Right now, I mostly read fantasy or Golden Age murder mysteries. I have an idea for a book that will combine the two, but there are a couple of other stories I need to do first.
Just the nibble of the book idea you mention sounds intriguing. What kind of music do you prefer?
I like lots of different kinds of music—rock, bluegrass, folk and classical. But what I’m listening to at the moment is the audio book of the Odyssey, Robert Fagles’ translation, read by Ian McKellen.
I’ve never gotten into listening to books. Perhaps I’ll try sometime. How long have you been writing? What prepared you for becoming a writer?
I always wanted to write. When I was in grade school, I wrote and illustrated comic books. In high school, there was a national writing contest with a bunch of categories—play, critical review, poetry, short story, essay, etc.—and I somewhat over-ambitiously submitted an entry in every category. I did win three awards, so I guess the strategy paid off. I majored in English at college, which actually influenced me in a negative way. I focused on poetry—the sort of poetry that doesn’t have much of an audience outside academics—and “real literature”, when I would have been much happier writing genre fiction. However, now I’m back on the true path, largely thanks to my wife Colette. She writes as well, and has always been incredibly supportive.
Sounds like you have writing in your blood, or something near to it. What do you write?
I write fantasy, which is the oldest and greatest literary genre. All the early epics are fantasies—Gilgamesh, the Mahabharata, the Illiad and the Odyssey. Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t true. I intend my work to appeal to a fairly wide age range, YA to adult.
Everyone experiences their own reality. There’s no telling what is and isn’t true within the fantasy world. Are you an independently published writer or a traditionally published writer?
I’m independently published. I got tired of the routine of sending books out to agents, waiting a long time, maybe getting a request for the whole book, and then finally some comment like ‘Good writing, but I don’t feel quite strongly enough to take it on.’ Well, I feel strongly enough, and I’d rather have control of the whole process, and not worry about someone else owning the rights to my book and deciding its fate.
The status of being traditionally published doesn’t carry with it the same prestige it once did. Which one of your publications will you be sharing in the interview?
My first publication is my novel, “Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head.” It’s a reimagining of the Robin Hood legend in which he and his band are not just outlaws, but actually werewolves. I make the assumption that the original stories about Robin are mostly true, but that one fact was left out, perhaps deliberately. I present my story as a series of interconnected tales told by one of the outlaws, whose own true identity is only revealed at the end.
This promises to be very interesting indeed. Is your book born purely of imagination?
Mostly, but I did a fair amount of historical research as well. My Sheriff character, for example, is one of the actual Sheriffs of Nottingham in the fourteenth century. I also read all the early Robin Hood ballads, staying clear of later versions of the legend where he becomes an incognito nobleman, a political activist, or both. I referred back to those original sources frequently while developing the story. As for the werewolf angle, I found that it seemed more natural the deeper I got into the story—I’d find myself thinking “Yes, of course, this is how it actually happened.”
Not having read the book yet nor been privy to your research, I already feel the rightness of your approach. What author has inspired you most in your writing?
My three major influences are, in the order I discovered them, Fritz Leiber, R.A. Lafferty and Tim Powers. Leiber introduced me to Sword and Sorcery, and possibly the fantasy genre itself. I love his Shakespearean flair for language and the way he could create a nightmarish atmosphere that just keeps on building–I’m thinking of novels like “You’re All Alone”, “Conjure Wife”, and “Our Lady of Darkness”. Lafferty was, above all, a great teller of stories and tall tales. His humor is wonderful, even when he’s describing deadly things. I’m glad to see that his work is now being republished, when it seemed a few years ago he might be forgotten. Powers comes up with amazing concepts, inventing magical systems and weaving together real history and the supernatural. My approach to Robin Hood owes a lot to Powers. Also, his characters are likable, and his endings are usually upbeat, both of which are big deals for me.
I’ll be adding those authors to my TBR list. What’s next? What are you working on now?
I will have another book out by year’s end or early January:“The Road to Hel”. It’s the first book in a trilogy about Sean, a teenage gamer who becomes a hero, fighting frost and fire giants to save the world. There’s just one problem—all the prophecies agree that Ragnarok is coming soon and the world will be toast–literally. In the meantime, just for a warmup, Sean and his friends get to rescue their parents from Hel.
And there you go folks, an interview with Eric Tanafon. Give it up for today’s author, everyone! Thanks for stopping in, Eric. It’s been great having you. Please do visit again and don’t make us wait too long!
ERIC TANAFON writes software by day and fiction by night. He lives in New Hampshire with his lovely wife in an 130-year old house. They don’t have any ghosts, but make up for it with five children and three cats.
Here There Be…
Creatures of darkness, not all alike. Kings without crowns, knights who left their shining armor behind. Witches, hermits, berserkers, and other honest outlaws. Ballads sung to the lute and spells spoken by moonlight.
Stories within stories, a Thousand and One Sherwoodian Nights.
And in the end…redemption.
I want to thank everyone for visiting today. Again, a round of applause for our author today. Please hang around to visit and comment below.