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I am not sure where the idea for this story comes from. In some ways it is a perversion of the love of nature that I had as a child, and which my own son shares. It is also, like The Un-Door about the intensity of a solitary child’s play and it possibly shares something with Saki’s Sredni Vashtar which also features a quiet, obsessive boy – one with an unnatural interest in something lurking in the garden shed.

Saki was in my mind as much as M.R. James as I was writing this book. Although not children’s stories, Saki wrote many stories with child protagonists, most of whom seem to have oppressive aunts who get their come-uppance. I have a vague (and possibly inaccurate) memory of Saki’s The Storyteller appearing on Jackanory.


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