What inspired you to write FLANN!?
Inspiration tends to come from a lot of places. The short answer is: my parents told mini-me stories about gold-seeking adventurers, then let me play in the woods. Those long afternoons of exploring, coupled with the local legend about Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin and his fish-shaped submarine, gave me the perfect foundation for a story about penniless prospectors, quirky cartographers, and the occasional mysterious cryptid.
The Inspiration Behind FLANN!
A Picturesque Setting
I have a special fondness for the woods. There’s something magical about the not-quite silence of being surrounded by trees. Mini-me was lucky enough to spend a lot of time roaming a section of the Canadian Shield, where I found -- and still find -- a lot of my inspiration.
As my character, James, observes early on, the forest surrounding Flin Flon, Manitoba, is not a traditionally “pretty” forest. There’s a lot of muskeg. The terrain isn’t very forgiving. And if I’m going to be honest, there are far too many mosquitoes for my comfort.
So no, it's not "pretty." But anyone who visits the precambrian forest knows there’s a certain beauty to be found in the cold, clear lakes and rugged, rocky outcroppings.
That backdrop became the setting for some of my favourite tales. The trip into town from our cabin wasn’t a long one, but it was long enough for a story. Before the car reached the top of the lane, I was already pestering my mother for the same tale, time and again —
"Tell me about Flin and his Fish."
A Quirky Local Legend
The story of Flintabatty Flonatin was originally told by JE Preston Muddock in the 1905 novel, “A Sunless City.” The first half of the book is an enjoyable addition to early science fiction, with a broad stroke of steampunk aesthetic that I found immediately appealing. The rest of the book is ... well, we'll call it a product of its time (some of the concepts did not age well), but the spirit of adventure is very much present in this tale of a man who sets out to delve beneath a bottomless lake and discover what lays at the centre of the world.
My mom’s version of ol' Flinty's story was a little different from the original (I don’t remember her ever telling me about the people who spoke backwards, or Flonatin’s particular fondness for snuff), but the whole concept had me hooked. Looking out at the dense tangle of trees and rugged rock that make up the landscape, it was easy to imagine a lone explorer bravely piloting his metal fish through dangerous waters, making deals with mermaids, and ultimately, of course, finding an underwater city paved in gold.
I made my mother tell me that story over, and over, and over … and over.
FLANN! might have started out as some unconnected doodles of steampunky characters tromping around in search of cryptids, but I quickly realized any search for the Sasquatch would land an intrepid explorer in my neck of the woods. It was the perfect excuse to explore my spin on a local legend that captivated a younger me, and continues to hold a special place in my heart.
Quotes from "The Sunless City"