Brian Jacques, Redwall, and Babble.
So I got into Redwall when I was in elementary school. Then I promptly got out of it because it was far too violent and I was too sensitive for such things. Except when I was not. I used to play pretend on the playground with my little brother and dude friends, and I would always be a badger, because badgers were the coolest of the goodbeasts. Who wanted to be a sissy little mouse?
juleneifier and I had played together since I moved next door, well, we and all our siblings. I always had to be the villain, what's with that? Anyway, we played anything. We played Aladdin, we played Gargoyles, we played Power Rangers (all the more thrilling because me and my siblings were expressly not allowed to watch it), we played . . . the Infernal Machine by Jacques Cocteau. Actually, I don't think we subjected juleneifier to that, but having free rein of the bookshelves, if not always the television, had occasionally odd and unintended consequences.
Anyway, Redwall remained a shared obsession when a. we both became teenagers and b. juleneifier got the Internet. The Internet was a mysterious thing to me back then. It lived on my grandpa's computer and consisted of a bunch of bookmarks about Alaska. But with juleneifier's HTML expertise and my -- uh, mild perverseness, we ran the Sentinels of Mossflower together, a roleplaying club with tiers of membership, assignments, and most excitingly, a messageboard. Oh, oh, was it something to be Bren Sprackenwulf and the brooding, mute Dylan Sablefur with a partner and an audience.
I was even in those early days a horrible cheat. Both Bren and Dylan were somewhat magical, despite magic being noot canonical. I was also a horrible troll whenever I got the chance, randomly happening on other people's messageboards and insulting them in character. Later, we all (and it was an all, wasn't it?) ended up on mass messageboards like the Salamandastron Dance, where we displayed our awesomeness by being more realistic and gritty RPers than all those people who were just there to . . . dance. vizon ended up making her own mass-messageboard hall, populated by sadistic sociopathic killers, troubled loners, and dangerous lady's men. I replaced my roster of brash warrior women and dark mysteries with a bunch of neurotics. Well, I'm sure that's familiar.
But it's arguable we, well, some of us, weren't really playing Redwall any more.
I wrote for the Terrogue ezine for a while, and was an active member of the Redwall Fanfiction Forum where I met many of my still-friends, even as my fanfiction got increasingly weird and snarky. I was Throttle in ROCSurvivor 2. And then I got increasingly hip to X-Men, because, you know, a horribly uneven franchise about mutants is much more mature than some books about mice and weasels and their little battles. I did play Vagrant and review Yerf applications in college, but I eventually faded from even the furry fandom for good.
Now, here we are. I'm a librarian who desperately tries to be a starving artist in my spare time, and one day I'll finish this sweeping epic about gods and religion and human choice and dumb poetry or maybe I won't. But it's as far away from Jacques's world of grand feasts and faintly archaic language and thick accents and noble mice warriors and wicked rats and foxes as I can get. Little anxiety of influence maybe. There was always something charming about the well-written simplicity of it all, the straightforward horrors and the straightforward heroics described with unfailing craftmanship, the stable regularity of Jacques's publication schedule. There would always be another book, even long, long after I'd stopped reading. Until there wasn't.
Rest in peace, Jacques. You done good.