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According to the Redwall wiki page on moles,

The mole dialect is derived from the region of Somerset, England. Brian Jacques frequently tales the story of how when he was a truck driver, he drove through this part of the country and encountered the men speaking with this accent.

However, I can't find an original interview or other event for where Jacques said this story. There are many other places which repeat the same general idea: that the mole accent is derived from the Somerset area, specifically due to Jacques truck-driving through.

Some things I have found, but which are not quite enough.

The official redwall.org "About Brian" page:

Like many of his generation Brian finished school early, at the age of fifteen. Though he frequented the local Public Library to continue his love of reading, he was very soon employed as a Manual Labourer. He spent time as as a railway fireman, a longshoreman, a long-distance truck driver, a bus driver, a postmaster, and a stand-up entertainer.

This only confirms that he was a long-distance truck driver, not the specific story about driving through Somerset and hearing the accent of the locals.

A Penguin interview

P: It’s been very interesting to me how young people love the accents in your books. When we first did them, we were a little nervous about how much sanitizing of those accents we might need to do for American children. But the children here love the accents, they love imitating the foremoles, the shrews.

B: It gives me so much pleasure when you hear students in the schools in America trying to imitate the Somerset burr of old men in little English villages. I remember a time that I was in a school and a little lad came up to me just as the bell rung, and he said, “Hullo, old chap and how are you doing, what? what?” I said, “I’m doing just fine.” And he said, “How was that for an English accent?” and I said, “Pretty dreadful!” He said, “Oh, rats!” and ran away!

This seems to confirm that the moles are supposed to have a Somerset accent. Again, though, it does not have the story of driving through the countryside.

I am seeking somewhere in which Jacques himself, or someone speaking for him, states that the moles' accent is based upon Jacques' Somerset truck-driving days. Not just people repeating other people, or assuming this story is correct. Currently I am assuming that such an original statement exists, since everyone agrees on where the mole accent came from and the wiki page says he "frequently" told the story.

Where did Jacques tell this story of how the mole accent was from truck-driving through Somerset?

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It's not exactly an interview, but I found this claim directly from the horse's mouth in a letter from Brian Jacques to a then-young fan, Joshua Bishop, in 1996 (link):

I give my characters accents chosen from British dialects, there are so many of them. [M]oles speak like the old men of Somerset, it is a charming old fashioned rural place. I remember it from my travels as a long distance lorry driver.

Possibly the reason you failed to find this is that, as an American, you'd probably use the search term "truck driver" rather than "lorry driver". When I searched for brian jacques lorry driver somerset moles, some results did say truck rather than lorry, but I also got "lorry" results including this one.

I haven't found any other primary sources for this claim, though, so "frequently" may be an exaggeration. Or maybe he used to tell this story at book-signing events which weren't recorded or written down and haven't made it onto the internet.

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  • You are correct, I did not even consider using "lorry" as a search term.
    – bobble
    May 13 at 13:51

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