Redwall Wiki | Brian Jacques and Redwall Information

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Redwall Wiki | Brian Jacques and Redwall Information
Redwall Wiki | Brian Jacques and Redwall Information
Contributed by LordTBT at 4:09 p.m. GMT, 2 April 2024

Chris Turman's bell from Brian Jacques

In the 1980s and 1990s, Chris Turman worked for book publisher Putnam as a publicist, promoting authors in the U.S. and getting them into American schools. Brian Jacques was one of the authors that he championed, and the Liverpudlian liked Turman so much that he used his name as the inspiration for the villain corsair Captain Tramun Clogg from Martin the Warrior.

Jacques even commissioned a special brass ship captain's bell as a gift for Turman, who graciously shared several of his stories about working with Jacques with the Redwall Wiki.

Read Turman's words below.

It is true that Brian used the letters of my last name for Tramun Clogg. How or why he put cloggs on me with a braided beard (I have never worn either) or made me grossly overweight is unknown. But here's how it began. I first started promoting Brian when Redwall was his only book. I read it and loved it. When Mossflower came out, I went out of my way to put it into the hands of reviewers, librarians, and teachers … many of them shared it with their students (and their own children). By the time Mattimeo was coming out, I had a huge ally in Susan Lehr of Skidmore College, who really got the ball rolling in our favor. She contacted me to see if Brian would be the keynote speaker at one of the institutional conventions … I think it was the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and it was in Baltimore where I first met Brian and Liz.

We ate at the Chart House for dinner. The next day, we hosted a luncheon for Brian after his speech. You had to see this man in action to understand the magic that was Brian Jacques. To make a short story long, by the end [of] lunch and Brian's personal stories, Brian had a table full of fans who would not only become lifelong buyers of his books, but they also knew HOW the various species of animals in the books spoke. They went home and shared their experiences from the luncheon.

When I first started promoting Brian, there was little interest and less money. But after that luncheon, I got calls from someone in Columbus who was determined to get Brian to her school (and a few in the area). We came to an understanding that the next time we brought Brian over to America for a convention, we would have him stop through Columbus. That ultimately happened. I can't recall the woman's name right now, but she was fabulous.

Floyd Dickman also helped a lot in Columbus. We ended up charging an honorarium of $350 per day. The basis for Clogg came here. When I told Brian that the schools would pay him $350, he called me a thief ("You mean you're gonna make those squidgy children PAY me to play with 'em all day? Argh, you're a drefful ole poirate, y'are."). I had to explain that the school would pay, not the children. And $350 wasn't that much; back then, it was $2,500 per day and first class plane travel to get [author] Tomie dePaola who, like Brian, was pure magic in front of a crowd.

They would only have to pay the airfare from whatever city our convention was in, rather than Liverpool. People in Cincinnati and Dayton got word and he ended up spending several days in each city. So then I had to call Barb Barstow of the Cuyahoga county Library System in Cleveland and Brian ended up spending three weeks in Ohio.

Naturally, we had Brian and Liz stop by the office in New York before they headed home. Understand this, Brian and I are huge fans of The Godfather (incidentally, it was published by Putnam, so I was able to send him a copy). When I asked Brian where he wanted to eat in New York, he already knew: Sparks Steak House in Midtown (where Paul Castellano was gunned down) and Umbertos Clam House (I think it was Crazy Joey Gallo who got murdered there). Sparks is an incredible experience. Starting with the $24 cheeseburger. Mind you, this was [more than] 20 years ago. I have no idea how much it would be now. Anyway, we had a few book friends come, mostly Barnes & Noble since the store was very close to Sparks. Brian told his stories while we had filet mignon and lobster. I guess I dropped a little on my shirt, because Clogg used to pull pieces of lobster out of his beard when he got hungry. But that gluttonous part of Clogg certainly comes from the many meals we hosted in Brian's honor.

Anyway, people around the country who knew me started getting onto waiting lists: "When Brian is in the States, can we have him here for a week?" Brian once said he wanted a big American steak (but not the $90 variety we'd had at Sparks), so I told him you gotta go to Texas. I got a list together and ended up sending him to San Antonio, which he and Liz loved perhaps more than any other city out here. In fact, he loved San Antonio so much that one time, we allowed for them to spend three or four days there without having any appearances, as long as they covered the expenses (which they gladly did).

Brian's appearances were truly unique. Normally, someone would call or write and let me know who they wanted and I would tell them financial details, available dates, etc. But since Brian lived in Liverpool and nobody could pay for the flight, we could only do this when Brian was State-side on our dime. But there was a city or two where they actually paid for everything, including international travel. But usually, Brian would go to a school, speak, sign some books, then have lunch. He would have a book signing or two in the afternoon. He would often have dinner with the host for that day.

Well, a couple of people got a little enthusiastic, I will call it, when scheduling things for Brian. There was one un-named city where they had Brian speak (and sign books) at three different schools, plus two bookstores. This wasn't my fault; I had agreed to one school, but my contact person there had to piggyback with two other schools to 1) share Brian with them, and 2) share the costs. So Brian calls from the hotel that night, exhausted, and calls me a slave driver. Keep in mind, that was all intended with his very, very enjoyable sense of humor, but at some point, I became a pirate stoat who ruthlessly worked slaves. He kind of meant it, but not really. Brian knows that I am actually responsible, more than nearly any person in America, for his popularity here. I am usually humble about it, but I really contributed tremendously to his emergence as a star. Brian did most of the work. After all, it was his stories. I just found a stage (dozens and dozens of them) for him to tell those stories from.

And then when he ended up with a few more over-extending days with multiple schools and book stores, he goes, "Ah, Cloggo, you'll die an 'orrible death in me next book." So I asked him how much money he had in his pocket. "Whadja mean, in pounds or pilgrims?" he replied. "Pilgrims." "Uuuuhhmmmm, 'bout three thousand U.S." So, I boldly asked, "Uh huh. And how did you come across that?" (because I had booked his appearances.) "OK, Clogg, yer a good lad," Brian said. "You won't die an 'orrible death after all."

Hence Tramun Clogg became the first primary villain in a Jacques novel to not die! I also booked our other authors and illustrators, some of whom had other publishers (like Patricia Polacco). So now Clogg not only wants his own slaves, he wants Badrang's, too (or Random House, Macmillan, etc.)

That's the main gist of the origin of Tramun Clogg. The world will miss Brian Jacques. He is truly one of the best human beings I have ever met. He happened to be one heck of a gifted storyteller, too.

In addition to the ship's bell, Turman has many signed and personalized Redwall books, including a first edition of Martin the Warrior and its advance galley, shown below. We appreciate Chris taking the time to revisit his memories for Redwall fans. Thank you, Chris!

Did you work with Brian Jacques? Or did he name a character for you? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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