I just heard that Brian Jacques, creator of the Redwall books, died of a heart attack over the weekend. He was seventy-one years old. I was introduced to the Redwall books about the time I started writing the Wilderking stories. Jacques’s writing influenced mine, no doubt, in ways that I’m not even aware of, but I’m definitely aware of one very specific influence: in The Bark of the Bog Owl, the idea of following subterranean caves to the enemy camp came from something the badgers did in one of the Redwall books.

Like the Beatles, Jacques was a Liverpudlian. He was about their age, though I never heard anything about his being acquainted with any of them.As a young man, Jacques delivered milk to a school for blind children; he wrote Redwall for the students there. The descriptiveness of his prose owes largely, he said, to his desire to help those children envision the scene. Jacques loved to describe meals and feasts and was excellent at it. In that regard, he was very much like Dickens, who would have turned 199 today.

Here’s an article from Jacques’s hometown newspaper.