In Jane Johnson’s novel, The Secret Country, her characters travel between Earth and Eidolon along wild roads, invisible doorways that can only sensed by those receptive to magic. As I read her story, this reminded me of another novel I had read, one also involving talking cats. As she delves into folklore and mythic characters, such as centaurs, satyrs, and dryads (I’m excluding dragons from that list because dragons are real), I wondered if she had borrowed the concept of the wild roads from some of the same sources.
The novel in question was The Wild Road by Gabriel King. A little research revealed that Johnson wrote this novel (under a pseudonym) with M. John Harrison back in the 1990s. So the Eidolon Chronicles follow a trail she blazed earlier in her career, one that paved her way for later adventures.
|Interior Illustration by Adam Stower|
(who has also written his own books).
Jane Johnson has spent her life following her own wild road. As a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, she earned a masters degree in Scandinavian studies, concentrating on those old Icelandic sagas that Tolkien loved. She then went to work for George Allen and Unwin, Tolkien’s publisher. Within a short time there, she became responsible for all Tolkien-related books, as well as overseeing many popular authors, including Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Arthur C. Clarke, and George R. R. Martin. (The latter author's Fantasy novels in the Song of Fire and Ice sequence have been compared to Tolkien's, and adapted into the HBO “Game of Thrones” TV series). Her love of Tolkien also took her to New Zealand, where she served as an advisor on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films. (She is featured on the extended-edition DVDs). Additionally, she wrote visual companions to the films, using the pseudonym Jude Fisher.
As if all that's not enough, Johnson's wild road extends beyond her love for J.R.R. Tolkien. During a research trip to Morocco in 2005, a near-fatal climbing incident caused her to reevaluate her life. So she gave up her life in London, and moved to that North African country, where she married a Berber tribesman. She now splits her time between his village in the Anti-Atlas Mountains, and a town in her native Cornwall. In addition to telecommuting in her duties as Fiction Publishing Director for HarperCollins, she still writes and publishes her own fiction. Her most recent titles include adult historical novel The Sultan’s Wife, and Gold Seekers, the fifth installment in her children’s Eidolon series.
In Fiction, would-be heroes travel along wild roads on fabulous adventures. Jane Johnson walks those wild roads herself. Thankfully, she then records her journeys, so that we can accompany her.