Tolkien Talk: Sara Letourneau

Tolkien Event 2016

As part of our Tolkien Reading Celebration, we’ll be interviewing different bloggers about their love for Tolkien and what makes his works so special for them.

Sara Letourneau is a Massachusetts-based writer who practices joy and versatility in her work. In addition to working on her YA fantasy novel, she reviews tea at A Bibliophile’s Reverie and explores literary themes at DIY MFA. Her poetry has been published in The Curry Arts Journal, Soul-Lit, The Eunoia Review, Underground Voices, and two anthologies. Learn more about Sara at her website / blog, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sara 2015_2-min

Tell us about yourself!  How did you come to love Tolkien and what do you enjoy reading about his works?

 I was a “late bloomer” when it came to reading Tolkien’s works. I had heard of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for years, but didn’t read the latter trilogy until 2004 – and after having seen Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. (I know. Blasphemous, isn’t it? *lol*) But I had loved the films, and I figured it was only right that I read the books. That choice changed my life forever.

It’s hard to say what I specifically enjoy about Tolkien’s work. There’s a sentimentality about it, since Tolkien was my gateway into fantasy literature. Also, his world-building skills are and always will be second to none. He makes Middle-Earth seem so real, as if the stories are chapters from its history. I also love the characters and the themes Tolkien explored in his stories, especially friendship and loyalty.

But on a personal level, I’ll always remember how The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s writing in general reinvigorated my love of reading. Most of what I read in high school didn’t appeal to me, so for several years I stopped reading outside of school assignments. In other words, reading was no longer fun for me. Then I read The Lord of the Rings, and something reawakened. I had rediscovered the pleasure and magic of storytelling, thanks to Middle-Earth and Tolkien. That sense of gratitude is what drives me to continue reading his stories. I’ve since read The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and the novel-length version of The Children of Húrin. This year, I’m planning on reading Unfinished Tales.

What’s one thing you learned from Tolkien you think everyone else should know?

Everyone can be heroes. Kings, warriors, and wizards aren’t the only ones who save the day. Sometimes it’s the everyperson, someone like you or me who finds the courage to do what needs to be done. Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are wonderful examples of this. Hobbits like Frodo and Bilbo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee may be shorter and less physically powerful than their Men, Dwarf, and Elf companions, but they’re not lacking in heart, selflessness, or determination.

Tell us about one of your favorite passages or scenes.

 How about this one from Chapter 2 of The Fellowship of the Ring? It comes after Gandalf explains the history of the One Ring to Frodo:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

This bit of wisdom speaks volumes. It reminds me that we have to rise to the challenges that come our way, and to take advantage of the time we have while we’re alive. We might question why fate tests us and wish certain things had never happened, just as Frodo does. However, we can choose how to respond to those challenges – and that choice can make all the difference between succeeding or failing, growing from experience or running away in denial.

 Do you have any Tolkien confessions?

Well, I’ve already confessed to seeing the LOTR films before reading the books. The only other “Tolkien confession” I can think of is that The Hobbit (or, rather, the first installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy) inspired my current fantasy WIP.

Of course, when I first got the idea, I didn’t want it to be Middle-Earth fanfiction, but a story with its own world and totally different characters. So, I began asking myself questions like, “How would my quest story be different from The Hobbit?” and “How can I make the world I’m creating and the people who inhabit it different from those in Middle-Earth?” There may be a nod or two to the inspiration, but the WIP has developed a life of its own and I couldn’t be more proud of it.

One last “Tolkien confession,” if it counts: I’m using Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings as an example character in the Character Evolution Files, an ongoing blog series about character arcs. You can check out the series here.

If you could visit any place in Middle Earth, where would you go?

Everywhere!  Rivendell would be high on my list. It’s so ethereal, lush, and pristine. I’d probably walk through Elrond’s gardens and watch the waterfall for hours! And I can’t forget the Shire, either. Hobbits are so down-to-earth and friendly – I think I’d feel right at home with them! One day I’d love to go to New Zealand, visit the actual Hobbiton set, and stand at the threshold of Bag End. That in itself would be magical.

Picture time! Show us your Tolkien shelf or some Tolkien merchandise you’re excited about.

Sara L Tolkien Talks photo-min

Here’s my current stack of Tolkien novels! I’ve read all of them except Unfinished Tales, but that will change soon. 😉

From top to bottom: The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, Return of the King, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Children of Húrin, and Unfinished Tales.

31 thoughts on “Tolkien Talk: Sara Letourneau

  1. wadadlipen says:

    Nice interview. I’m actually of not having read Tolkien even after seeing and falling in love with the films. It’s really a case of so many books, so little time but there you have it …confession.

    Liked by 1 person

    • saraletourneau says:

      Thanks! I understand not having enough time to read all the books you’d like (I have the same problem, too *lol*). But if you can, and since you enjoyed the films, definitely check out The Hobbit and LOTR books if/when you can. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Greg says:

    Great post! I think it’s great how Tolkien continues t inspire so many people to this day, even to the point where people write their own fantasy! And Rivendell would be top of my list as well. 🙂

    Oh and I’m a big fan of Unfinished Tales, I enjoy paging through it as there is so much info there, lots of neat background. I hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • saraletourneau says:

      Thanks, Greg! 🙂 And yes, I’m hoping to get to Unfinished Tales this spring or summer. Is it like The Silmarillion in that readers should read it one story / chapter at a time and absorb it slowly?


      • Greg says:

        I think it’s much more accessible than The Silmarillion the reading style reminds me more of the Appendices at the back Return of the King. It covers some events of the First and Second Ages but my favorite part is the Third Age stuff. We get glimpses into the history of Galadriel and Celeborn, a section called The Hunt for the Ring and sections on the Istari (wizards of Gandalf’s order) and the palantiri. I think it’s fascinating.

        So you can definitely take it a section at a time or just plow through it, but I think it’s an invaluable resource and perhaps flies under the radar a bit. I hope you enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

        • saraletourneau says:

          Oooooh, I already like the sounds of this! I’d heard that Unfinished Tales covered more “recent” parts of Middle-Earth’s history, so now I’m even more excited about reading it. Thanks again! 🙂


  3. saraletourneau says:

    Thank you so much, Briana and Krysta! I really enjoyed answering your questions. Then again, it’s always fun to talk about Tolkien and his work. 🙂

    Looking forward to the rest of your posts for this year’s Reading Event!


  4. saraletourneau says:

    Reblogged this on Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog and commented:
    Today I’m over at Pages Unbound, talking about the “One Author” (*wink*) whose works inspired me to write fantasy. I share what first drew me to J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, my favorite passage from Lord of the Rings, my well-worn pile of Tolkien books, and more. Check out the interview at the link below.

    Also, if anyone is interested, Pages Unbound is hosting a Tolkien Twitter chat on Friday, March 25 at 8:00 pm EST. To participate, just follow @pagesunbound for questions and use the hashtag #JRRchat. I’m planning to be there, and I hope some of you can come as well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. sjhigbee says:

    I loved Tolkien when I first read The Lord of the Rings, it was recommended to me by my cousin and I hadn’t read anything quite like it – and fell in love with The Silmarillion when I encountered it some 6 years later. I’d like to attend the event, but I’m spending the day with my granddaughter. I hope it goes well, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • saraletourneau says:

      It’s always great to hear how people first started reading Tolkien’s stories – and even better when someone recommends the stories to you. Do you have a favorite Tolkien story, Sarah?

      No worries about the Twitter chat, btw. I thought I’d mention it in case anyone was interested. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • sjhigbee says:

        I think The Fellowship of the Ring is my favourite – I was aghast on reading it when Gandulf falls to his death and the sequence within the mines is particularly vividly depicted. I thought the film did a fantastic job in recreating the sense of desolation and poignancy of a lost civilisation…

        Liked by 1 person

        • saraletourneau says:

          Same here. My experience with reading LOTR was much different, since I’d seen the films before reading the books. But it was interesting to see the differences between the movies and the books, and it inspired me to read more of his work as well as fantasy literature in general.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. rlhendrian says:

    I think I’ll be at work during that Twitter chat – so REPRESENT Sara 🙂
    My dad first read us The Hobbit when we (my brother, sister, and I) were young enough to be afraid of Gollum hiding under the bed! (Well, my sister was).

    This was a lovely interview (thank you Pages Unbound), and I enjoyed reading your “Tolkien Story” Sara. It’s more like Robin McKinley’s (one of my all time favorite authors). She always says that she was glad she discovered Tolkien a little bit later, because she thinks that he would have influenced her TOO MUCH as a young writer! Needless to say, she fell in love with his books, just later 🙂

    ❤ this, and ❤ Tolkien 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • saraletourneau says:

      Thanks, Rebekah! That’s neat about Robin McKinley and her “Tolkien story.” I’m not that familiar with her work (maybe I should fix that…?), but it’s nice to know there are other Tolkien “late bloomers” out there. And I’ll do my best to represent on the Twitter chat on Friday! 😉

      Ha ha, did you dad make you believe that Gollum was hiding under the bed? I can imagine how that must have been scary for younger readers.

      Btw, if you had to choose, what would be your favorite Tolkien story?


  7. Rawls E. Fantasy says:

    I too share in that confession: I saw the movies before reading the books. I knew nothing of Tolkien before then *blushes.*
    But I do feel that his works came into my life at the right time. Not too early, so it didn’t influence my writing style too too much, but early enough that it grew in me a love for epic fantasy, and encouraged me to write my own series. 😉

    The favorite passage you mentioned is also one of my favorites. It reminds me to treasure what time we have and to use it as best we can, even in the face of trials and dangers.

    Love this interview and Tolkien talk. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nandini Bharadwaj says:

    Great interview. It’s always good to get to know more about fellow Tolkien fans. 🙂

    I’m one of those who saw the movies first and then read the books as well, but given that I started reading books only after the movies came out, it’s not inexcusable. 😉

    That’s one of my favourite passages too. But I’d rather visit Lothlorien than Rivendell at the height of its power because it’s easily the most magical place in Middle Earth. Others on my fictional list are the Old Forest, The Prancing Pony, Minas Tirith, Ithilien and the Grey Havens.

    I will try my best to join the Twitter chat but if I’m unable to, it’s because it will be 5:30 am on Saturday in India. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • saraletourneau says:

      Thanks, Nandini! It was a lot of fun to answer Briana and Krysta’s questions. 🙂 And it’s always good to know that there are other fans out there who read the books after they saw the movies.

      Honestly, there are too many places to choose from when it comes to visiting Middle-Earth. I’d love to go to Lothlorien, Minas Tirith, and the other places you mentioned. If only a tour or cruise could take us to all of those locations, right? Though we could skip Mordor and Dol Goldur. 😉

      Awwww! Don’t feel obligated to get up early for the chat if it’s so early for you. I mean, I’ll be happy if you do come, but it’s good to make sure you get enough sleep! *lol*

      Liked by 1 person

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