Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Legend of the Lambton Worm

I am currently working on a novella, for Abaddon Books, entitled Conqueror Worm. The story, set in 1797, was inspired by the Legend of the Lambton Worm and I have researched various versions of the story to help create mine. On top of that, yesterday I found myself re-telling the original legend myself for the self-same story.

I first came across the legend in Carey Miller's A Dictionary of Monsters and Mysterious Beasts first published in 1974. This book provided me with my initial experience of many well-known monster legends, including that of Grendel and Beowulf, but the one story which has always stuck with me is that of the Lambton Worm. I can still clearly visualise the the rather naive illustration of the worm (shown as a giant earthworm as opposed to a dragon) wrapped around a tree, and this has certainly influenced the story I'm currently writing.

And it's not only influenced this story, it also made an appearance in my very first published work Spellbreaker, this time in the guise of the Devilworm. I often find myself returning to familiar themes or sources of inspiration in my writing. The upcoming Pax Britannia novel Evolution Expects and the new Fighting Fantasy adventure Stormslayer share more than a few passing similarities (while still being completely different stories), and The Horror of Howling Hill shares aspects of both Spellbreaker and Howl of the Werewolf (if you know where to look).

If you don't know the Romance of the Worm of Lambton yourself (or you'd like a quick refresher), click here. Alternatively, there's a fantastic comic strip version in Bryan Talbot's magnum opus Alice in Sunderland (18 pages worth!).

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