There are two main influences behind Barleycorn, a story which is quite short, not so sweet, and one of my favourites.
The first is Jeff Noon’s wonderfully strange novel Vurt, which my brother bought me for my birthday when I was about 16 or 17 I think. It was a book unlike anything I’d read before and it left me feeling both exhilarated and slightly ill; if you’ve never read it, I highly recommend you grab a copy, although don’t blame me if you feel woozy afterwards. I was fascinated by Vurt’s mixture of dreams, drugs and mythology, and a lot of that stayed with me.
The story is also based around some trips to the countryside I made as a kid, although I don’t think I was ever quite as sulky as the narrator (I hope not, anyway). For me the countryside seemed tremendously wild and green, and we did indeed make little dens within the crops, which I imagine cheesed off the local farmers no end.
I should also mention that this story made its first appearance over at the marvellous Un:Bound blog.