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Author Josh Winning talks retro fantasy epic ‘The Shadow Glass’

The Shadow Glass is throwback to a golden age of Jim Henson inspired fantasy features such as The Dark Crystal and The Neverending Story.

We got the chance to quiz author Josh Winning about his upcoming novel and the world of Iri and the Shadow Glass.

The Shadow Glass feels so rich in established mythology, how long did it take to come up with this world?
Thank you! Before I wrote a single word of the book, I spent five months brainstorming in a notebook. It was a lot of work because I was essentially coming up with two stories – the story of the movie The Shadow Glass, and the story of the book The Shadow Glass. It was a really fun process. Things like the kettu and the skalions came to me pretty quickly, and then it was a case of figuring out just how they fitted into the world of Iri, what their lives looked like, and what the mythical Shadow Glass actually meant to them. I had a ball!

The reference points of The NeverEnding Story and The Dark Crystal are there for all to see, were there any other inspirations for the story?
So many! Films like The Goonies, Gremlins and Who Framed Roger Rabbit were all huge influences. Funnily enough, even though I was massively inspired by 80s fantasy films, I also drew a lot from 90s movies like Jumanji and Hook. Basically, anything starring Robin Williams. I guess The Shadow Glass movie was inspired by 80s fantasy films, and The Shadow Glass book drew more from 90s fantasy cinema, which was more self-referential and had more adult main characters.

Was there any temptation to set the story in the fantasy world rather than on Earth?
Actually, no, because I think that could have turned the book into more of a high-fantasy story, which didn’t realty fit the satirical tone I wanted to hit. Personally, I prefer to write contemporary fantasy that’s grounded in our own reality, probably because I grew up with shows like Buffy and The X Files. The idea of monsters hiding in our reality has always appealed to me.

Is The Shadow Glass what you wish the Masters of the Universe feature was?
That’s such a great observation. I LOVE the Masters of the Universe movie and won’t hear a word against it! It was definitely another of the big inspirations for the book (my villain, Kunin Yillda, is just as power-mad as Skeletor). So, in that sense, I can only hope that The Shadow Glass touches the greatness of MOTU!

What was your experience like as a first time author?
This is my first time with a traditional publisher like Titan, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be published previously by smaller indie presses. That means I don’t feel like I’m completely stumbling around in the dark! And Titan have been fantastic. They keep blowing me away with what they’re coming up with. Have you seen the trailer?!

Were there any characters you based on people in real life for The Shadow Glass?
The movie director in the book, Bob Corman, is clearly inspired by Jim Henson, though they are totally different personalities. I sort of envisioned Bob Corman as the dark side of Jim Henson – the creative who was so upset when his film flopped (in Henson’s case, it was Labyrinth) that he just fell apart. There are also characters in the book inspired by Sigourney Weaver, Dolph Lundgren and Miss Piggy, but I’ll let you figure out those for yourselves!

Do you think there is scope for a sequel?
Never say never! The Shadow Glass tells a complete story, and I never intended to write a follow-up book. But now that I’m no longer working on The Shadow Glass, I miss it. I’m itching to reunite with Iri and Jack. So you never know! If people want it, I may just write it.

The Shadow Glass by Josh Winning is released on 22 March 2022 from Titan Books.

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