Whilst I believe my latest novel Echo and the White Howl is an interesting and original work in its own right, I also think it is disingenuous to deny influences. Here then are seven other stories that informed Echo and the White Howl.
Watership Down (Richard Adams) – One of my favourite novels, and the most obvious influence. This tale of rabbits fleeing apocalyptic disaster and standing up against dictatorial oppression (both themes that also appear in my novel) has surprisingly dark, savage undertones, as well as being vivid, gripping and deeply moving. My novel doesn’t skimp on savagery either, as like Adams I don’t believe in patronising children. The notion of the rabbit god Frith is also echoed (see what I did there), with the wolf goddess Akna.
The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling) – Akela and the other wolves in Kipling’s iconic classic are so well-known and well-loved that I almost dismissed the notion of a wolf novel as futile before I’d even started. Akela’s presiding over the wolf council and his recitations of the law of the jungle are very clear influences on the character of Aatag, and how he runs his wolf pack.
The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame) – This classic of animal literature is an undoubted tonal influence on some of the lighter, more whimsical elements in my novel, especially during sequences where Echo tries to persuade an eagle and a bear to help him through trickery.
The Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson) – Nini the racoon is something of a comic relief character in my novel, but his amusing (and successful) attempts at talking his way out of being eaten are akin to that of the mouse in The Gruffalo.
Animal Farm (George Orwell) – Many animal fiction tales owe a debt to Animal Farm, and mine is no different. The tyrannical regime of the pigs proved a key inspiration for the tyrannical regime that appears in my novel. In Animal Farm the regime is meant as an allegory of Soviet Russia, and interestingly, some have read contemporary concerns (specifically Brexit) into “The Union” of my novel. I didn’t intend Echo and the White Howl to be a political allegory, but if people want to read that into it then obviously I cannot stop them.
Bambi (Film) – The “circle of life” narrative that underpins my favourite Walt Disney animated film was a big influence. My novel also features the traumatic death of a parent, as well as a forest fire in the climax.
Twin Peaks (TV series) – The idea of the villain being possessed by an ancient demonic force from the “Dark Realm” may feel like a side-step into outright fantasy or horror, but oddly enough the idea came from Twin Peaks, whereby the killer is possessed by a malevolent spirit from the “Black Lodge”. As my wife said in her (otherwise positive) assessment of Echo and the White Howl, “Not everyone is going to appreciate a left turn into weirdness”. Despite this, the Dark Realm elements simply add to the spiritual backdrop of the novel, along with the White Wolf of Akna, the Black Mountain, the Circle and so on. Besides, I believe mixing dirt-under-the-paw realism with the metaphysical creates a surprisingly potent combination.
Echo and the White Howl is a thrilling animal adventure for all ages, set amongst a pack of wolves in the Alaskan wilderness. Click here for your Kindle download or paperback copy.