I was born in Lincoln, England, in 1962. My background is in teaching and journalism.
As a novelist, I would describe myself as something of a 'fantasy oddball', mainly because most of my influences are not really from the genre.
My reading began with Richmal Crompton's unsurpassable 'William' stories. I loved the way she wrote the words William and his friends said, exactly as she heard them in her head. The creation of two important double acts in Blue Fire Burning, namely goblins, Grot and Mouldy, and Pahleen winglets, Niktac and Ricochy, owes much to this wonderful character sculptress.
My bookcase was also full of things like 'Jennings' (Anthony Buckeridge), 'Biggles' (Capt. W.E. Johns), and loads of what Dean & Son called 'Dean's Classics', such as 'Kidnapped', 'Treasure Island', 'Gulliver's Travels' and 'Alice In Wonderland' (well, the last two are fantasies, so, perhaps I'm not the oddball I think I am, after all). Pretty soon, I added Dickens' treasure trove to this list (where would I be without him?).
A lot of the time, this marvellous reading material was consumed, by torchlight, with my bed covers up over my head (hands up everybody who's done that). If I wasn't reading a novel/short story collection, I'd most likely have been found immersed in one of my beloved comics. The Beano, the Dandy and the Hotspur were glorious burrows to escape down. So were the unique cartoons of Carl Giles.
Telly-wise, 'Star trek', 'Doctor Who', 'The Outer Limits' and 'The Twilight Zone' were gobbled up voraciously whenever they were on, and Perry and Croft's sitcoms were utterly indispensable. Music was - and still is - another vital 'burrow', and my taste has always been as broad as the sand bar separating Pahleen Island from Rhoden Isle, so I won't get into naming bands, songs etc. We'd be here 'til doomsday.
'Escape' was vital to me as a kid because I, like many others, was bullied. A lot of the time, the real world was not only scary; it was a frustrating place, too. I felt powerless. There was nothing I could do to put right what was wrong in my life. Perhaps that's why, as a writer, I was drawn to the fantasy genre and ended up producing Blue Fire Burning. On Wadjamaat, I have that power. I'm in control. Throughout the greater part of my life prior to this accomplishment, I felt like a leaf being whipped this way and that in the wind, and I'm relieved beyond measure to have left that behind. It's taken a long time, but, at the ripe old age of forty-nine, I'm myself at last. I can choose the course that I and my Wadjamaat travelling companions take. Or, perhaps, they'll choose it for me. Either way, I feel a deep sense of belonging and warmth. Mentally, I've discovered my independence. 'Lady Fantasy' has plucked me from that churlish 'wind' I spoke of, and I love her for it.
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