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The Inspiration behind The Serpent in the Glass

I started writing my first novel, The Serpent in the Glass, in 1997. Aimed at the Middle Grade audience, and the young at heart, it is a portal fantasy set in the borders of Scotland.

Although the writing of the book was certainly later influenced by JK Rowling's Harry Potter series (which I started devouring in 2001 after the release of the first film), its inspiration began in Avebury, Wiltshire, England. Here on the Marlborough Downs, just eighteen miles from Stonehenge, sit stone circles, barrows and the mysterious Silbury Hill.

Coincidentally, as I was looking into the topic of Avebury, I came across Prehistoric Avebury by Aubrey Burl [pictured below] in a local second-hand bookshop. I devoured the book. Here is the portion of its text regarding Silbury Hill that gave birth, as best as I can remember, to the idea behind The Serpent in the Glass:

'John Aubrey recorded that "the tradition only is, that King Sil or Zel, as the countrey folke pronounce, was buried here on horseback", the beginning of a legend that a golden horseman was to be found at the centre of the mound.'

Although The Serpent in the Glass borrows from the legends around the Scottish borders, and very heavily from Irish mythology, its foundations are very English. I like to read, and write, books rooted in heritage. It, to me, gives them an anchor in the real world. Something we can identify with. I think this is one of the reasons J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is so loved.