My Fondness of Church Mice and Xenofiction

Me being an escapist, I wanted to be a squirrel and live in the Abbey, making food and pursuing my hobbies in relative peace.

My Fondness of Church Mice and Xenofiction
Photo by Glen Hooper / Unsplash
“Knowledge is a thing that one cannot have enough of. It is the fruit of wisdom, to be eaten carefully and digested fully, unlike that lunch you are bolting down, little friend.” - Brother Methuselah, Redwall

I'm excited to talk about the Redwall series today! It was one of my favorite series (and one of few children's' books I read even as I moved to adult books at 12), though I never finished reading all of the books. So I was surprised later to learn that there more books were published in the time I stopped reading. There are 22, and I only read less than half of that. That's partly due to the books still being released as I was reading them back in the early 2000's. It seems the last was published around the same year of the author passing.

Should also mention (in case it wasn't obvious) that I'm a big fan of xenofiction. Watership Down is my favorite in the genre, and something of a "special interest". I've read others in the genre when I was younger (first encountered Watership Down in my high school library), but few have struck such a cord with me. And then there's Redwall.

I mainly remember being enthralled by all the description of food in the books, followed by the animals of the Abbey and their little adventures. Me being an escapist, I wanted to be a squirrel and live in the Abbey, making food and pursuing my hobbies in relative peace. Though one thing that always bothered me about the series was how black and white everything was.

Like, rats and other predators were always evil, and the good ones usually died. I also vaguely recall the series being very formulaic, which likely contributed to me dropping the series and reading more and more adult books. I was reading Stephen King, Anne Rice, and V.C. Andrews by 12, so I clearly wanted more adult themes.

After revisiting the Animorphs books last year (another series I started but never finished), I decided to revisit Redwall, and plan to read all 22 books this year, as part of my overall reading challenge. I'm reading the books in publishing order, though I know some people recommend chronological order. It doesn't matter after a certain point, based on what I've read on the forums, and things like horses don't get ironed out into later books, so.

I'm currently on book 2, Mossflower, and rather enjoy the change of pace from the powerhouse that was Matthias. Redwall wasn't my favorite of the bunch, and Matthias was part of that problem. He had big "chosen one" energy, and was a bit of a Gary Stu. I'm enjoying Martin's perspective, along with Gonff's antics. I've always wanted to write fiction from the perspective of animals, such as hamsters and rats. I love rodents in general!

But after seeing how the villains in the series are treated (especially rats), I am really inching towards writing more sympathetic rats. They're very clever creatures after all, and deserve more respect than they are given in Redwall. Yes, they're pests and spread disease, but they are also fascinating critters and have so much potential! I just don't know where to start, just that I don't want to write a children's novel.

I have played dogs, ratfolk, yokai, and other creatures across several tabletop games, like D&D, and that legacy lives on in my Last Train Home series. They just haven't been the main focus in my novels...yet. But I've got so many ongoing projects that it won't come to fruition for a while now. Maybe I could write some short stories? We'll see.