We are catching up with author Mark Egginton, on the back of Fantasycon 2016. September has been a very important month for the Manchester born writer, as it saw the release of his first book, ‘The Lord of the Grins’ with Luna Press publishing and his first book launch.
KP: Your first book launch. How did you feel, pre, during, and post launch?
ME: At first I was very apprehensive – I didn’t know how people would take this. I kept thinking “Bored of the Rings – Bored of the Rings, many people love it, how will my parody stack up against such a huge blockbuster?”. During the convention and the reading I got quite a few laughs, this gave me much encouragement, so much so they had to drag me away from the audience. I left Scarborough in a euphoric state, I’ve since been told that beer has that effect on some! But seriously, I got my book out into the world and that felt great.
KP: Let’s talk about the parody. ‘The Lord of the Grins’ shows a real knowledge of Tolkien’s best-known work as well as your passion for it. What made you decide to go down the route of a parody as a way of showing your love for Tolkien?
ME: The reason for writing a parody started in a Smial meeting in Burnley Lancashire. We decided to start a webpage to promote our moots, my input was to be a few pages of humour a month. I started my story on a beach in Tunisia, and I still have those sheets and all the subsequent ones. As time went by, the webpage never materialised, but the book kept growing.
My love of all things Tolkien are unbounded, many have asked me “why would you then do this to his great work?”. Firstly, I believe that Tolkien the soldier would understand the kind of black humour I employ, my brother served in the very same regiment of Fusiliers, my whole family (males) served in the forces throughout two world wars and beyond, our humour is not always understood, to us there is not much that is sacred, laughter is our way of coping with the horror put before us, and Tolkien had a sense of humour that some of his adherents haven’t, that at times worried me greatly.
Secondly, I am not a great scholar like most of the friends I have in the Tolkien Society, I admire them and I have expanded my knowledge by listening to their lectures, but I do know a lot about what I’ve actually read. To write a parody you have to have a depth of knowledge to instil that in your own interpretation. It is not simply using silly names, you have to qualify the history and reasons for that change. The way of looking at this is if you imagine a front room in a house: Tolkien came in through the front door, all the furniture is in its rightful place, then a film director has come in through the window and changed the colour of the furniture, removed some and redecorated (it is still basically the same room, almost), whereas I have come down the chimney and turned the room upside down, the furniture is now on the ceiling, yet that furniture I love and is engraved on my heart like the furniture in my Grand-parents house.
KP: Part of the profits from this book are being donated to The Tolkien Society, a registered charity of which professor Tolkien himself was Honorary President when he was alive. When did you join the TS and what is it that appealed to you then, and now?
ME: Tolkien and The Tolkien Society have given my the most joy in my life, I wish to repay that in some way. A percentage of my earnings will go back into The Society, and will continue to, even after my death. I first joined The Society in 1980, however this lapsed due to being married to an “unbeliever”, I then rejoined after leaving the Army in 2000. I rejoined to be amongst those who love The Gift of Middle-earth, our fellowship spans the world and it is a joy to be with them, in mind and body, if you love the works of Tolkien, there is only one place in the world you should be, The Tolkien Society.
KP: It is only fair to ask: will there be another parody in your future?
ME: I am about a quarter of the way through The Halfbit, There or Thereabouts and The Question of Errorbore, Bilious Braggins has just escaped the three Thralls, Gert, Tum and Bull Thuggins. After that it may be The Homebrewing of Beerbreath son of Beerfroth or His Stories of Muddy Earth vols 1 to 45.
The Lord of The Grins is available from Luna Press Publishing, as well as other discerning bookstores and retailers, in paperback and digital.