Over the next few months, I’m highlighting some of my earlier novels. This month, continuing my series on treasure hunt adventure Uncle Flynn, here are some key books and films that influenced or inspired parts of the novel.
Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson) – The granddaddy of all treasure hunt adventures, the influence of this classic could hardly be overlooked. In particular, the character of Long John Silver and his relationship with Jim is a key inspiration. Silver is a compelling character, but he is dangerous, and you are never quite sure whose side he is on, or if he will suddenly turn on Jim. There are hints of this danger in the relationship between Max and Flynn in my novel.
Five On A Treasure Island (Enid Blyton) – I’m a big fan of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. Whilst Five Go To Smuggler’s Top is my absolute favourite, this initial entry is also a cracking tale of children finding the treasure of local legend. It also illustrates one of the key principles of a great treasure hunt narrative (whether aimed at adults or children), in that the discovery of the treasure is ultimately and ironically secondary to obtaining something of even greater value – in this case, lasting friendship between the children, and the restoration of relationship between George and her parents. In my book, the treasure is important, but the restored relationship between Max and his father is the much greater prize.
Pigeon Post (Arthur Ransome) – Arthur Ransome’s superb Swallows and Amazons series are shamefully neglected by many these days. They normally concern boating adventures, but in this instalment, our heroes go prospecting for gold in the Lake District, whilst dodging the attention of a rival prospector. Other books in this series are more famous, but I always had a soft spot for this one. Peter Duck was another Ransome influence, incidentally.
The Goonies – A gang of children follow a map to buried treasure to save their neighbourhood from being torn down by smug property developers who want to build a golf course. Yes, it’s all rather noisy and obnoxious, but for children of a certain age (ie my age), this film can do no wrong. Packed with maps, cryptic clues, secret passages, booby traps, villainous rival treasure hunters, and so on, this is an obvious influence on my book that it would disingenuous to ignore.
Mary Poppins – The Disney film rather than the PL Travers’s novels are the inspiration here. Mr Banks routinely ignores his children (and to be fair, so does Mrs Banks). The magical Mary Poppins then appears, taking the children on extraordinary adventures whilst work drives Mr Banks to a nervous breakdown. However, upon realising what is important in life, Mr (and Mrs) Banks then are reunited with their children – at which point Poppins exits stage right. This theme is echoed in Uncle Flynn, with the establishment of the estranged relationship between Max and his father, which then gives way to adventures with Flynn, ahead of the big twist in the finale.
Uncle Flynn is available on Kindle and in paperback here. Another article about it will appear next week.