But mostly it's about stories, and asking the question why do we tell them?
Stories are a part of life. We tell them. We can't help it. When did that happen? That first 'once upon a time', that first 'A long time ago...', that first 'Come, sit, and I'll tell you a tale...'?
Sharing a story can be as powerful and as bonding as sharing a drink, or a bed, or a life. The image of gathering around a fire in a far flung inn, as a storm rages, and then swapping tales as the night draws in is a strong one, used many times by writers. If you're being clever and like your literary theory it's called a frame narrative. If you're being cleverer still it's just a darn good way to get away with telling more than one story without too many people noticing.
But why do we tell tales? From 'in the beginning' to 'happily ever after', the journey is above all else one of exploration and understanding. Stories aren't literal (side note - it's fun to read that word in a Welsh accent) because they're the shadows behind the light; the stars behind the moon; the dreams you have remember that made so much sense at the time. We can ape and mirror this world, flattering it or exaggerating it, and the aim in the end - beyond finding out what happens next - is to end with a bigger and better view of life. To gain perspective without actually leaving the room. It's a bold magic that asks so much from so little.
In EREN, I'm not sure Oli finds the answer he wanted. You'll have to wait to read it to see if you agree. In EREN the answer is probably more brutal. Stories in that world exist to feed and drive things far older and more dangerous than us. I did that as a nod of respect to tales and the strange, brilliant power they have in them.
Reading HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE at the moment. And when it is finished, I'll let you know how it all went.