December Roses: the influence of Tolkien
Thanks so much to Jay for offering me space to witter about my new book on her blog, especially at such a frantic time of year. It’s my own fault really, publishing a book so soon before Christmas, but with a title like December Roses it seemed too good an opportunity to miss!
You wouldn’t necessarily think that a book about a gay British soldier recovering from a Belfast bombing and falling in love with a man he meets in a lost wilderness of a garden would have much to do with Tolkien. But Nat is no ordinary soldier; underneath his tough exterior he’s a sensitive soul who likes nothing more than curling up in a library with a good book, including The Lord of the Rings. Plus December Roses is more about romance and mystery (and gardening!) than it is about bombs or the physical process of recovery, and references from Tolkien’s Middle Earth seemed to fit very readily against that backdrop. I had fun seeing how many I could squeeze in.
For starters, there’s the name of the army rehab unit where Nat’s sent to recuperate. I chose Frogmorton, which is cheerfully stolen from one of the Shire’s less-well-known villages, partly because it sounds suitably rural and idyllic, and partly because it reflects the family crest (‛Three crowns and three frogs, don’t ask me why…’) referred to in the book.
Nat himself spots other similarities. Arriving at Frogmorton for the first time, he sees the setting sun reflected in the Towers’ gothic windows in a blaze of red, and his immediate reaction is ‛Christ, it’s like Mordor on a bad day’. Whether it’s an omen for good or bad, he (and the readers) will have to wait and see.
During a visit to the local town, the twisting passages of a bookshop remind him of the Mines of Moria (‛Well, I haven’t seen a balrog yet but there’s more than enough spiders…’ as the shop assistant says); while a pitch-dark secret tunnel from the Egyptian courtyard to the summer-house puts him in mind of Shelob’s Lair. And of course there’s elusive musician Richie, ‛Tolkien’s elf, made flesh and blood after all…’).
On a more serious note, The Lord of the Rings is ultimately about a world that’s changing, and not necessarily for the better. December Roses is also about change, although on a smaller, more personal scale as Nat comes to terms with his injury and its consequences. I’d like to think that, even though he has to cope with some dark times, in the end there’s more hope, and more emphasis on second chances, than in Tolkien’s famous work.
If you want a drinking game to while away the long dark December evenings, try picking out all The Lord of the Rings clues in the book. Sadly there are no prizes, except perhaps a sore head in the morning, but it could be fun! And if you’d like to find out more about Nat and his journey of discovery, head for my website (http://www.fiona.glass.com/roses.html) where there’s a blurb and an excerpt from where he’s first introduced to part of his beloved garden.(http://www.fiona-glass.com/roses.html) If it (or this rather meandering blog post) whets your appetite to buy the book, you can find it for only £4.99 (approx $6.50) on Kindle (or free from Kindle Unlimited) from Amazon UK (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08PG2ZJQM/ ) or Amazon US (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PG2ZJQM/). I hope you enjoy it!
P.S Jay here – I’ve bought my copy and am looking forward to playing the drinking game!