This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien fan.
To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.
I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!
Now, on to Kyria Van Gasse’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I was introduced through my grandfather, who is obsessed with Tolkien’s works. He collects all the Dutch translations of his books, extended editions of the movies, various art and even makes drawings and paintings of Tolkien’s world himself. It was only natural that he introduced me to the magical world at a fairly young age (I think I saw the movies the moment they were available on DVD, and I am turning 22 this year, so you can count back :P). We also have various pets in the family who are named after Tolkien characters, so you could say the professor’s world really lives within us.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
I’m going to be very basic and say the magical whimsyness of the world. Although I like to say I’d be an elf in his world, I know at heart I am a homely hobbit and I have such a big love for the Shire. The chapters or scenes that happen in that place are my favourite out of all, although I also have a fondness for Théoden and his Rohan (we recently named a cat Rohan!). I just love the world so much and how everyone can find something in it to get lost for a while.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Definitely back when I was a kid and had weekly sleepover nights at my grandparents. My grandfather used to read stories to us every night, and there was a while where those stories where pages from a daily Tolkien calendar. He read excerpts, showed us maps and drawings, sang the little songs… It really made Tolkien a big part of my childhood. We also had this yearly tradition of watching the full extended editions over a few weeks, so I feel like I know these movies by heart and they kinda shaped me in a way.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
I think I look at it more as a source of inspiration now, or more like a thing that I’d like to be able to do. I write fantasy as well, and although my writing style is totally not like Tolkien’s, I do believe some parts of his work influenced the way I write. I also really love how he made fantasy a serious business, and showed it wasn’t just a genre for kids’ stories, but a fully fledged part of the literature industry.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I would definitely recommend it to anyone into fantasy, or starting to get into fantasy (although I’d say they perhaps should either watch the movies first or start with The Hobbit, as LOTR itself is perhaps a bit too much as a starting fantasy reader).
You can find more from Kyria Van Gasse on Twitter!