How The Hobbit can change your world and get you writing

Published on: 16 February 2017

Kieran Larwood has written a brilliant children's fantasy book, inspired by The Hobbit. What is it about Tolkien that can change lives forever?

Kieran talks us through his reading and writing journey - and how it all started with this one book. 

Podkin One-Ear won the Blue Peter Book Award 2017 

I started reading quite early, but only have a very dim memory of the books I read before The Hobbit.

I found it on my parents' bookshelf one day when I was looking for something new to read, and was instantly hooked by the picture of Smaug on the cover. Then I opened it up and saw the map and that was it.

I insisted on reading the whole thing by myself, and had a dictionary and a little book to write down any words I didn't understand.

I remember being totally fascinated with the idea that a book could take you away to a whole new world, and don't think I've ever completely lived in the real world since.

I've also never been quite as happy as I am with my nose in a good fantasy book.

Sense of magic still here

When I started writing for children, I wanted to capture that same sense of magic that The Hobbitgave me. I wanted to create a world and characters that children could lose themselves in, like I did in Middle Earth, and in other fantasy books like The Hounds of the Morrigan and The Borribles.

All the characters and the settings seemed so real to me when I read them, and that sense of magic has never really left me, even when I re-read them many years later.

I think the secret is in the details, so I have made the world of Lanica - in Podkin One-Ear - as rich and lifelike as possible, with maps and tribes and ancient ruins…

Building it all has been the most fun I've ever had writing. 

Illustration by David Wyatt, from Podkin One-Ear 

Building a legend

The way that Tolkien used Anglo Saxon myths to inspire his own universe stayed with me, and through studying them myself at university, I became fascinated by the way legends and stories were created and passed on.

I loved the way that Bilbo was an ordinary hobbit, whisked out of his quiet little world, and all these things were a real inspiration for Podkin. I wanted to tell the tale of a simple, scared character, caught up in events which then become the building blocks of a legend.

History also inspired the Gorm, who were originally a race of raiding rabbits, like the Vikings, which grew into something much darker. I think the greatest aspect of The Hobbit is how adventure can happen to anyone, and readers identify with that everyday, run-of-the-mill person thrown into a world of peril, just like Podkin and Bilbo.

Illustration by David Wyatt, from Podkin One-Ear  

Putting imagination on the page

It has been such a privilege to have an artist as amazing as David Wyatt to illustrate the book. He has captured the characters and the settings so perfectly, it's as though he has reached into my head and pulled them straight out of my imagination.

He has managed to completely convey the feel of the rabbit world, especially with all the roots twining around their underground burrows.

I feel especially honoured when considering all of the other amazing authors he has illustrated, including The Hobbit - which was the inspiration for it all.