The Story Behind the Story

The Story Behind the Story

by J.D. Oldenburg November 19, 2018 0 Comments

When a boy Kidnaps death and gives everlasting life to his Kingdom the joy of living vanishes from sight. He must find the courage to bring it back. 

I want to share a little bit of the backstory behind Horatio In The Wind. From a very young age, likely soon after I started talking, I exhibited an unusual fear of dying. I’d often cry on my dad's lap because I knew one day I'd die.

My mom tried to ease my fear by telling me it would be long before I died, but I knew she had no way of knowing. I could die any day.

My parents believed the circumstances behind my mom's pregnancy had a lot to do with my fear. There's hardly any other explanation. I had no death related trauma as a child.

My mom spent the last four months of her pregnancy bed ridden. I was too big for her. She also lived 300 miles away from her dad, who struggled with heart issues that led to open surgery the month prior to my birth. There was a lot of worrying about loosing either of us.

The fear of death started to fade away in the fifth grade, when I wrote a short story for school titled La Muerte de la Muerte, Spanish for Death of Death.

In it, a King managed to trap death with a sack, hung it from a tree and dawn everlasting life over his Kingdom, only to realize life without death was not what he expected.

The hand written story, kept by my mom as a memento of the time, marked the origin of what Horatio in the Wind is now.

 Some of you may think I was inspired by Horatio Rides The Wind, by Mary Hebert - sorry to disappoint you, I didn't find out about this book until very recently.

I did however, have such clear images of this story in my head as I grew up, I always wondered if I had seen it somewhere, and as I found out when telling about Horatio to a stranger at a party, I had.

In 1997, when I was 9, the late Jim Henson, creator of acclaimed shows like Sesame Street, Dinosaurs, The Muppets and The Storyteller, adapted to TV a famous Russian folktale from the 1850s called The Soldier and Death, by Alexander Nikolaevich Afanasyev.

I most definitely saw it as a child, wrote my little story and forgot about it. Though the stories and their messages are vastly different, there is a clear similarity at the core of the plot.

I love that this story was imprinted so deeply in my mind it morphed into what you could call a modern retailing of a very old Russian folk tale.

Mostly, I love I didn't discover this until after I created it and was almost done illustrating it, because chances are if I had known I had seen it somewhere, I wouldn't have written it.

J.D. Oldenburg

J.D. Oldenburg
J.D. Oldenburg


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