I first started writing this story back in 1994, while being the live-in barman at a small country pub in the Cotswolds, having just completed a long backpacking stint through Europe and Scandinavia. I had a 2 bedroom apartment to myself above the pub and with a couple of days off each week could sit at my window, stare out over the sometimes snow-laden Cotswolds countryside and write away. It was heaven! And then I’d go downstairs and pull beers for the locals with their wonderful accents and dry humour, before closing up at night and stealing a drink to sip by the open fire. I remember one particularly bizarre incident… the owner of the pub told me a local band was going to hang out in the basement for a few days to practice. Pretty much nobody came into the pub at lunchtimes so I meandered downstairs and listened to them. “Not bad”, I thought – kind of old school folksy with a bit of a wannabe Jethro Tull sound about them… then I noticed they were playing exclusively Jethro Tull songs… then I noticed they were in fact Jethro Tull. This was their warm up for a world tour and here they were holed up in the basement of my pub – turned out Ian Anderson (front man, flautist, good tipper, scampi and chips for lunch) lived up the road.
So anyway the Benevolent Troll started life as some sort of travelogue drawing on my backpacking adventures throughout Europe – but I ditched that after about 100 pages and decided to write something people might actually enjoy reading, and that I might actually enjoy writing! I finally left the pub and spent a week writing in a cute cottage in Dover and 3 more weeks on a tiny Greek island, before returning to Australia to polish it off. It was a wonderful experience, though peppered of course with the wild imaginings that hit you at 3am forcing you to get up and furiously write a scene, then read it again at 2pm the next day before screwing it up in horror and binning it. All part of the process.
After tinkering with the Troll on and off for many years, I finally got it to a point I was happy with, and, well, here we are at last – I hope you enjoy!