One of the most interesting things about fiction is that, for the most part, it is really just life— artfully arranged. Almost all of the scenes, incidents and characters we read about in novels can also be found in real life, in fact most of them are based on living people and actual situations. It is the same for “Tribes of Eden.” When I was writing the book I drew heavily from my own life experiences.
The Shire, for example, is really just a compound of the place I lived when I was growing up and the years Jude and I spent on the farm at Summer Hill. Sure some of the features were changed, exaggerated or diminished but the novelist has a right to do that to make the story flow more smoothly. It is true that Jude and I lived “off the GRID” and it is also true that when I was a child I lived close by my older relatives and had close relationships with them.
There is nothing simple about living the simple life and I think the greatest shortcoming we experienced on the farm was the struggle to do without all the modern conveniences and also do without a close network of friends and family to support and be supported by.
The Hobbits of the “Lord of the Rings” had a pretty good handle on things– they understood that living simply requires ample access to the gifts of community.
This video includes some further thoughts on the Shire and the GRID and the conflict that develops between them.