Phillip Pullman Explains His Influences and Inspiration

By October 22, 2017Literature, On Writing

Phillip Pullman’s new addition to the His Dark Materials series comes not a moment too soon for fans of his writing. The first book in the newest trilogy The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, was due for release on the 19th of October 2017 but had an accidental early release 15 days before its due date. 

Pullman described the book as not a prequel, but an equel. A series not to stand before or after the novels that concluded in 2005, but ones that will stand beside them. The stories follow “the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organisation, which wants to stifle speculation and enquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free”.

Pullman spoke to the media about his inspiration behind his well-loved stories, and what has influenced his writing and characters over the years.




Speaking to the Daily Mail, Pullman said:

“It’s the question of consciousness, perhaps the oldest philosophical question of all: are we matter? Or are we spirit and matter? What is consciousness if there is no spirit? Questions like that are of perennial fascination and they haven’t been solved yet, thank goodness. I’m still very grateful that scientists have not discovered what dark matter is. I was holding my breath and crossing my fingers they wouldn’t while I was writing His Dark Materials. They still don’t know and I’m very happy about that.”

The literary world Pullman created was inspired by his regular walks along the rivers and canals of Oxford, and “looking at maps of the city, which is laced through and through with water”. His community and the village where he grew up also played a big part in forming his interests and encouraging his literary prowess.

“An old lady in the village took an interest in me and invited me to borrow books from her library. I read HG Wells and Tarzan. That was a very generous thing to do and I thought of her when I was writing about Hannah.”

On writing characters, Pullman revealed his particular interest in exploring the more evil characters in his novels. The villain Bonneville was a favourite creation to explore:

“Is he a psychopath? He’s a nasty piece of work. I enjoyed him very much. There’s nothing more fun than writing about villains. I loved writing Mrs Coulter in His Dark Materials and greatly enjoyed him in this.”

Part of the appeal of his novels is the timelessness of them, and that he never meant to write for a specific audience. His characterisation of the young protagonists was such that anyone who has been a ‘normal’ child could relate in some way. Pullman insisted that both Lyra and Malcolm are just ordinary children.

“There’s nothing divinely gifted about them. They’re not special children. When I was a teacher, there was a Malcolm in every class and a Lyra in every class. I didn’t base them on actual children, but I based them on the notion of children that I formed during that period. Children are capable of extraordinary feats of courage, of affection and determination and I was glad to discover Malcolm wandering in my mind.”

Fans old and new are looking forward to exploring the world he created once more, and delving deeper into His Dark Materials.

Get your copy of the new novel here:




Rare Biggles First Edition to be Sold at Auction

By | Literature, News | No Comments
W. E. Johns created the fictional character James Bigglesworth (nicknamed Biggles) in the 1930s for young readers. The story The White Fokker introduced Biggles for the first time in 1932. It was published in the first issue of Popular Flying magazine and then as part of the first collection of Biggles stories, The Camels Are Coming. The Camels Are Coming contains 17 short stories featuring Captain James Bigglesworth, and his sidekicks Algy, Ginger and Smyth.

A rare first edition of this popular collection is due to be auctioned off to the highest bidder with a pre-sale estimate of £500 to £600. Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham, Norfolk will be in charge of selling the book on the 25th of January 2018.

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New York Bookstore Features Books from Sh*thole Countries

By | Authors, Literature, Polls and Discussion | No Comments
Turning negatives into positives is always a good thing, and right now we’re in love with Rough Draft Bar and Books in New York for their display featuring authors from ‘shithole countries’.

Since he has taken office, President Trump has done a pretty good job at offending the rest of the world. A while ago he banned travellers from many Muslim countries and we responded by featuring a list of books from the Muslim ban list. Read More

The Latest Book Trend Is Dividing The Internet

By | Arty, Literature | One Comment
Trends and fashions come and go but at the height of their popularity the trends can cultivate some heated debate. Do you remember when #shelfie was a ‘thing’? Or arranging a books on a shelf by colour to create a bookish rainbow? People are divided on whether these things are a waste of time, highly impractical, or just a fun way to arrange your home.

The latest bookshelf-altering idea is for the neutral-colour-lovers among us: some of you may remember when we posted a picture on Facebook of a bookshelf in which the books were all turned about with the spines facing the wall. Many of our Reading Addicts were unhappy with the idea- deeming the bookshelf owner (apparently someone called ‘Lauren’) to be a little superficial, and “obviously not a reader”.

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10 Reflective Quotes By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria on the 15th of September 1977. The award-winning author published Half of a Yellow Sun in 2006 and the next year it received the Orange Prize for Fiction. The exquisitely written novel was also featured in the New York Times′s 100 Most Notable Books of the Year.

“Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined. [It] is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.”

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5 Historical Books To Read Featuring Queen Elizabeth I

By | Literature | One Comment
On the 15th of January in 1559 Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England in Westminster Abbey. Her father, Henry VIII had died leaving the monarchy in a mess, the title of monarch was passed from one successor to another until finally Elizabeth I, the last Tudor to reign, took the throne.

Elizabeth was a strong and capable woman with an excellent education, and a fair but ferocious heart. Her reign lasted from the 17th of November 1558 to the 24th of March 1603 at her death aged 69.

Much has been written about the Tudor period, and there is an intense amount of historical fiction around, so allow us to recommend our top 5 historical fiction novels about Queen Elizabeth I- for your enjoyment.

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Walter Mosley: In His Own Words

By | Literature, Video | No Comments
Walter Mosley, born on the 12th of January in 1952, is an award-winning American writer from California. His versatile works include three mystery series’, ‘afrofuturistic’ science fiction, erotica, and a graphic novel. His most famous works, the Easy Rawlins Mysteries, feature a black private investigator and war veteran who lives in Los Angeles, and are his most popular fiction to date. The author has also written 3 plays, with a 4th on the way called Devil in a Blue Dress. Mosley has won numerous awards including the O. Henry Award, a Grammy and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Big Think on YouTube have featured the novelist in a series of videos that capture his musings and wisdom, as a writer and a reader. Check them out below!

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