Sunday, February 19, 2012

Guest Post by David Tallerman - Pieces of Cake: Where Giant Thief meets Labyrinth

Please welcome David Tallerman to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. David's debut, Giant Thief, was published on January 31, 2012 US/Canada.

Pieces of Cake: Where Giant Thief meets Labyrinth

     One lesson I learned during the writing of my first novel Giant Thief is that you don't always realise your own influences.

     Whatever I was consciously considering, as random as some of the elements I deliberately threw in were, I don't remember thinking much about the movie Labyrinth. Not that it would have been so strange if I had, since it's one of my favourite fantasy films of all time. I'd cheerfully describe it as a masterpiece, and probably will before this post is out. But the gritty yet humorous Crime / Fantasy adventure I had in my head was a thousand worlds away from Jim Henson's delirious, often silly, always brilliant Muppet-featuring masterpiece.

     (Well that didn't take long.)

     Although ... truth be told and now that I think about it, one small similarity did occur to me fairly early on. When I was trying to visualise my protagonist Easie Damasco riding on the shoulder of Saltlick, the giant he'd just absconded with, where could my mind go but to Sir Didymus? Because let's face it, the sight of an insane fox creature mounted on a cowardly Old English Sheepdog takes all the biscuits when it comes to images of things riding on other things.

     As major, conscious influences went, though, it was only when I started trying to come up with concept images for the cover that the first major similarity hit me. How best to describe Saltlick? He wasn't your typical, monstrous giant. In character and appearance both, I had something quite different in mind. Not quite so tall but broader, considerably nicer, a creature of few words but more than capable of picking the right ones at the right time, kind of like ... well ... a lot like a shaved version of Labyrinth's good-hearted monster Ludo.

     That was it, though - as far as conscious influences went. But realising those two was enough to set my mind ticking for unconscious ones. Had a little bit of Labyrinth's Sarah fed into my tough, well-intentioned but sometimes perhaps a little self-deluding heroine Marina Estrada? Was the reason I was determined to have some humour in the mix a hangover from reading too many Terry Pratchett books, or did it perhaps have more to do with the way Labyrinth (and for that matter other classic fantasy films of the time) undercut their more serious themes with heavy doses of comedy?

     Then there's Easie Damasco himself.

     At time of writing, Damasco has already been compared with Shakespeare's Autolycus (by Adrian Tchaikovsky) and Jack Sparrow (by SFX magazine), not to mention my friend Bill Brennan describing him bizarrely as "a cheerful Raskolnikov." But no one has as yet pointed out how much he has in common with Labyrinth's treacherous, stature-deprived, morally see-sawing hero / villain Hoggle.

     So I'll do it myself. Because both have a magpie's interest for gewgaws, which often gets the better of their interest in people. Both are almost blinded by their cynicism and their sure belief that everyone is just as self-interested as they are. Both have a conscience, but also a staggering capacity to ignore it. And, however minor or tenuous some of these influences may have been, I've no doubt that Hoggle's relationship with Sarah fed into Damasco's with Saltlick. Labyrinth toys mercilessly with our instinct to like Hoggle despite his multitudinous flaws, and our urge to trust him just as Sarah wants to trust him. Even as he lets her down, we want to believe the next time will be different. So it goes with Damasco and Saltlick. Damasco is a charming but outrageously flawed individual, and he's the only hope Saltlick has of ever returning home - if he can just stop behaving like a weasel for long enough.

     Anyway, my point here isn't that I've written a colossal rip-off of Labyrinth. I'm hopeful I haven't written a colossal rip-off of anything! No, my point is that a) Labyrinth is a brilliant movie, and a fantasy classic that maybe doesn't always get the credit it deserves and b) like I said at the start, you don't always know your own influences - and discovering them can come as quite a shock.

     However, in the interests of not looking like a big plagiarist, here are some of Labyrinth's vital ingredients that definitely don't appear even slightly in Giant Thief:

     There are no muppets. At no point does David Bowie appear, with or without padded underwear. There are neither goblins nor babies. Nobody sings or narrowly avoids a dunking in the Bog of Eternal Stench. At no point does anyone remove anyone else's head.

     Actually ... no, wait...

     Damn it!


     I wrote most of this piece on the train to Prestatyn, heading for the SFX 2012 Weekender.

     I'd barely arrived and hooked up with my roommate-to-be Lavie Tidhar when I ran into the Angry Robot team who, along with a couple of old friends, were drinking in a quiet corner of a large room being used as a combination cinema / bar. And barely had Angry Robot co-editor Lee Harris popped the cork on the champagne he'd smuggled in to celebrate Lavie and mine's book launches, but what should start playing on the screen?

     Yeah, that would be Labyrinth.

     Sometimes, life is very strange.

About Giant Thief

Giant Thief
Tales of Easie Damasco 1
Angry Robot Books
January 31, 2012 US/Canada, February 2, 2012 UK/RoW
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Meet Easie Damasco, rogue, thieving swine and total charmer.

Even the wicked can’t rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he’s going to need help.

Big time.

File Under: Fantasy [ Big Trouble | Deception | Saltlick's City | Hang 'im High ]

About David
From David's website

David Tallerman is the author of around a hundred short stories, as well as comic scripts and poems, countless reviews and articles and at least two novels. Many of these are already available in print, online and in podcast. Others are due to appear over the next few months - including the first of those novels, Giant Thief, to be published through Angry Robot in early 2012 with two sequels following close on its heels.

Not liking to be pinned down, David's work ranges from gruesome horror to comic fantasy, from political science-fiction to tales about mechanically assisted grizzly bears battling Nazi dolphins on the moon.

He's been writing off and on since he was about six, drawing comparisons to Enid Blyton in those early days, but thankfully less so recently. And he's been writing pretty much flat out since around 2005, having realised he enjoys it a lot more than any of the other jobs he's tried his hand at.

Most of his remaining time is eaten up by his regular employment as an itinerant IT Technician, and whatever's left he spends reading books, watching films, hiking, drinking wine and failing miserably to grow bonsai trees.

The photograph was taken near Robin Hood's Bay, which is somewhere behind the camera- person. There are some seals basking off to the left. If you've never seen a seal up close then you should really try to, they're awesomely weird looking creatures.

David's Links:


The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a copy of Giant Thief (Tales of Easie Damasco 1) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What is you favorite fantasy movie? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition YOU MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Sunday, February 26, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. I love this story, especially the after note about walking into a room and Labyrinth is playing on the TV.

    The question is an easy one for me to answer, except it's not a single movie. The Lord of the Rings trilogy are my favorite fantasy movies. Peter Jackson brought these amazing books to life without making too many drastic changes and the result is magic.

    @timlewis on Twitter:!/QQwill/status/171229392763232256

    lewis dot tim at gmail dot com

  2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the witch, and the wardrobe.

    I follow the blog.

    Thanks for the giveaway. The book sounds good.


  3. My favorite fantasy movie is Harry Potter! Thanks for the giveaway! This looks like a really good book!

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 tweet:!/niknik529/status/171352063068999682

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  4. It's hard to choose just one, so I would say the Lord of the Rings trilogy is my favorite fantasy movie, or rather movies.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC follower - Barbara E.

  5. I love Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
    Debby236 at gmail dot com

  6. I love fantasy movie Eragon and How To Train Your Dragon!! Thanks for giveaway!

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 facebook ;

  7. The LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy still blows me away.

    I follow.


  8. I agree that the Lord of the rings trology is probably my favorite at present.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

    +1 for comment
    +1 I am an old Follower via GFC as buddyt

  9. Harry Potter because it reminds me of when me and my brother went to see it, all happy and young and smiling!

    gfc follower

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  10. Hahaha, Easie wasn't easy. I like the sound of him; rogue, thief, charmer.
    As for the question, is it really a question? Isn't Lord of the Rings at the top? It was done as close to the books as I have ever seen a movie based on a book, so beautiful and dark at the same time. Makes me want to go watch them!

    GFC follower Lexi
    eyesofblueice (at) gmail (dot) com