Sharon Schulze

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Location: New England, United States

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blame it on Robin Hood

I like movies--a lot! When I was putting myself through engineering school I worked in a cinema, which had the wonderful perk that we could check out whatever was showing for free (in my not-so-copious free time, lol). In recent years my husband and I don't get out to the cinema too often, but we do manage to watch a fair number of movies once they come out on dvd.

A movie I'm determined to see on the big screen, however, is the upcoming Robin Hood. It's not that I haven't seen any Robin Hood movies or TV shows before--I've probably seen pretty much every (fairly) well-known English-language version, both good (Errol Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood, anyone? Campy but fun) and the nearly-so (fortunately Alan Rickman et. al. saved Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves from the Kevin Costner surfer-dude Robin--and the sound track is great writing music); animated (Disney's Robin Hood) and TV-movie (Robin Hood with Patrick Bergin as Robin--cool!; Uma Thurman as Marion--not so much) . . . to name a few.

But the show that got me hooked on Robin Hood, and that set me on the path of writing 12th/13th century medieval romances, was the 1950's TV show The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene. I didn't see it when it was on originally, since it first aired before I was born, but back when I was in elementary school it was on every Monday - Friday before the evening news on WMUR-TV (the only New Hampshire TV station back in the day--and one of the few channels we could get on a TV with rabbit ears!).

I loved that show! My brother and I watched it every night; when we got together with my younger cousins at my grandfather's on Sunday afternoons we'd head off into the woods and play Robin Hood. We'd gather around a big, flat granite stone we called the Robin Hood rock, where we'd determine (by a process of elimination I don't recall) who got to be Robin, the Sheriff, Little John, etc. We were very progressive; gender had no bearing upon what part you got to play. I do remember that whoever lost--boy or girl--had to be Maid Marion (even though Marion was known to fight alongside the Merry Men and was pretty good with a bow!).

We were still playing Robin Hood long after they'd stopped showing The Adventures of Robin Hood on TV. By then my fate had been set--I'd developed an abiding love for the time period; for savvy, sword-wielding, honorable men who fought for the women and ideals they held dear; for women who, like Marion with her bow, didn't sit back and wait for men to rescue them. As I got older I studied the history, read anything--nonfiction and fiction--set in that era I could get my hands on. Although I didn't bring the Robin Hood legend into my books until Bride of the Tower, its influence on my writing is clear to me no matter what story--or time period--I write.

The opportunity to see that time period--the battles, the sword fights, the romance of it all (despite the dirt, blood, vermin, etc)--outside my imagination doesn't come along that often, so I need to get my fix when I can. Medieval romance on the big screen . . . guess where I'll be when Robin Hood hits the cinema?

What has influenced or continues to influence what you choose to read, or to write? Were your choices/interests set in your childhood, too?