University of Iowa Honors Theses

Major Department

English

College

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Degree

BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2017

Honors Major Advisor

Marie Kruger

Thesis Mentor

Matthew Brown

Abstract

J. R. R. Tolkien was a master story-teller, and I am his apprentice. As a narrator in this thesis, I am a nontraditional student studying creative writing in the pursuit of my dream to write fantasy novels for a living. I’ve been writing since childhood across various scales and genres, and have completed the first of a five novel fantasy series that takes place in a universe called Terralus. As a fantasy writer however, I have much to learn, as writers always will. I’ve been an avid fan of The Lord of the Rings since high school, and ever since then have wanted to unearth all that Tolkien could teach me about writing fantasy.

This creative nonfiction thesis is a bibliomemoir capturing my conversation with Tolkien, or the conversation we would have if we could “sit down by a fireplace, he with his tea and I with my Mountain Dew.” Writers love to talk about writing: their inspiration, their process, their joys and pains, and that is just what this thesis allows me to do with Tolkien. We discuss how we started writing, the role writing plays in our lives, the best ways to wield the power we have in our pens, and the ways in which Truth as defined by our Christian faiths can influence our fantasy.

There has of course been much scholarly material produced over the years concerning Tolkien’s life and work, giving me a wide range of biographical information, literary material, and Tolkien’s own ideas toward writing craft to work with. I also pull in the voices of other fantasy authors using their websites, blogs, and interviews—authors who have also influenced the way I see and treat fantasy: Kristin Cashore, Suzanne Collins, Ted Dekker, Philip Pullman, and J. K. Rowling. I don’t think Tolkien would mind, given the social nature of his own writing career from the T. C. B. S. through the Inklings. Writing itself is a solitary activity, but the ability to approach other authors both encourages and challenges us.

Tolkien was never excited about the idea of being studied, considered highly, or having his life pulled apart for anything to interpret hidden meanings in his work, and in a way I am doing all of these things. I hope he doesn’t mind having a conversation with a rookie sub-creator and letting me tell both of our stories together.

Keywords

Tolkien, Fantasy genre, creative writing, writing, bibliomemoir

Total Pages

72 pages

Copyright

Copyright © 2017 Kaycee Lynn Pancake

Included in

Nonfiction Commons

COinS
 

URL

https://ir.uiowa.edu/honors_theses/77