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Robert Stanekís Blog


Close-up With Robert Stanek and Brian Jacques


Brian Jacques and Robert Stanek at a recent book signing.

Photo shows Robert Stanek and his family, and Brian Jacques.

This photo was taken by H. Stanek in Olympia, Washington.


Brian Jacques's Fall 2005 book tour took him across the Western United States, through California, Oregon, and Washington. As Jacques's tour was winding down Robert and Brian met at a book event where Brian spoke at length about his childhood in Liverpool, England. In his youth, Brian's family was very poor and he went to Catholic school where the nuns frequently whacked him and other children. He chuckled when he told stories of the play yard on top of the school's flat roof and of the teacher, a nun, who said of him, "There's the devil in that child."


Brian's writing draws on many of his childhood experiences. In the stories he read as a child, the authors never wrote about what the characters were eating. They'd always say the king or such gave a great feast, but would never say what the characters were eating or whether the characters were satisfied. He decided to remedy that in his Redwall books by writing detailed accounts of what the characters feasted on and whether they were satisfied.


Growing up poor and hungry are things Robert Stanek understands all too well. In his childhood, there were often days and weeks where meals consisted of flour and water pancakes. As with Brian Jacques, one of the ways Robert Stanek escaped the hardships of his childhood was through the books he read. Books opened windows to new worlds, peoples, and places. Robert's characters too tend to enjoy their share of feasts with the merriment of a feast often being part of the story.


Robert also had a particular nasty experience with a ruler-whacking teacher--a former Catholic school teacher who thought only evil children wrote with their left hand. Robert remains, of course, left handed to this day.


Later in life, Brian worked many odds jobs. He even worked as a long distance truck driver. His encounter with two extraordinarily old men outside a pub would become the basis for the moles in his stories. For you see, these two old men ramble talked and their words were barely understandable. His work with blind children is what got him started writing and is what helped ensure his work was highly detailed, for he wanted to paint pictures with words in such a way that any child--blind or sighted--could understand the story.


In fact, Brian says that is what a writer is: someone who can paint pictures with words. Of course, a writer is also someone who can tell a good yarn, and Brian certainly manages to do this in his Redwall books, including his latest: High Rhulain. He's also recently published The Redwall Cookbook.


To learn more about Brian Jacques, visit Redwall Abbey.


Illustration (c) Sean Rubin

The Redwall books include:





Mariel of Redwall


Martin the Warrior

The Bellmaker

Outcast of Redwall

Pearls of Lutra

The Long Patrol


The Legend of Luke

Lord Brocktree




Rakkety Tam

Get Brian's books at Amazon.com, BN.com, or your favorite bookstore. To contact Robert Stanek, write or send an email. Hope to hear from you! 


Thanks for reading, Iím William Robert Stanek, Microsoftís #1 author for 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.

Update 2019: Remembering My Long-Time Friend Brian Jacques on His 80th Birthday

As I write this, today June 15, 2019, my friend, Brian Jacques, creator of Redwall, would have been 80. Of all the writers Iíve corresponded with over the years, from Raymond Feist to CJ Cherryh to Mercedes Lackey in the hey days of CompuServe, Brian was the wittiest and most fun. It was the highest of honors to host Brian when his fall 2005 book tour of the Western USA brought him to my adopted home town of Olympia, Washington. At the time, I wrote about Brianís visit on a tribute page to him and his books, which I posted to share with my readers in the previous post.

One of the best things about Brianís visit was that my son, Will, who was 13 at the time, got to meet Brian and get all of his Redwall books signed. Will was, and remains, a Redwall fan, having read all of Brianís books multiple times. My two youngest were also at the signing and they enjoyed getting their pictures taken with my friend Brian.
As I had promised Brian, I also gave him copies of the children's editions of my books, The Kingdoms & the Elves of the Reaches, which are set in my fantasy world of Ruin Mist. Brian and I enjoyed swapping stories of our created worlds, having bonded over our similar experiences with Catholic school teachers beating us with rulers.  

Brian was a hoot to listen to at author events and book signings. He loved his characters and got into the role of his characters actively in the telling. Brian loved a good feast as well, as any attentive Redwall fan knows.

Brian also challenged me to give back to readers and the writing community, to share my personal skills and experiences with others. Brian always spoke fondly of his days working with blind children and how he got his start. Early conversations with Brian were key in inspiring me to dedicate many hours and years to give away one million books to schools, libraries, community centers and others, though especially to teachers in classrooms who needed books for their students who otherwise would have no books at all as well as to schools for the blind, like the one in rural Scotland where students had access for many years to my entire catalog of books, including many educational and learning titles in the Bugville Critters, at no cost.

To say Brian Jacques loved the written word is an understatement. Brian lived for the written word and I think the only thing he loved more was bringing his stories and ideas to life with spoken word. Brian and I had running conversations about digital audio and in particular Audible, where my books had been runaway bestsellers--#1 Fiction, #1 Fantasy, #1 YA/Childrens for many weeks in spring and summer 2005. Brian was more familiar with traditional audio on tape and hesitant about the digital world--ebooks, kindle, audible, and such. I don't know if my words on the subject swayed his thoughts on the subject, but I'd like to think so, as his books did start to become available for both kindle and audible.

In the fall of 2005, none of us could have known that Brian would be taken from the world just a few years later. I was, in fact, looking forward to his promised next West coast USA tour and another visit with my long-time friend. For me, Brian Jacques will forever remain one of the true few who could paint pictures with words.

We all miss you, Brian, though it is perhaps fitting that the final Redwall book is about rogues. As a rogue scoundrel who worked many odd jobs in his life, this was perhaps Brianís last wink and nod to the world.

Goodnight, Brian. Goodnight, Redwall.

Thanks for reading, Iím William Robert Stanek, Microsoftís #1 author for 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.
Celebrating William Robert Stanek and his 250th book!

Learn more about the author at www.robertstanek.com.

Enter the world of Robert Stanek's Ruin Mist at www.ruinmist.com.

Visit the publisher at www.reagentpress.com.

(c) 2002-2020 Robert Stanek. All Rights Reserved.