The Stranger's Guide to Talliston

By John Tarrow

A Young Adult fantasy adventure inspired by 'Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home', Talliston House & Gardens

Thursday, 11 July 2019


Well, this is the end of a quite remarkable journey – and perhaps the beginning of a new one.

Today The Stranger's Guide To Talliston is launched online and instores across the UK, Europe and the USA. This week we have featured on television, radio, print and digital channels and we are just two weeks away from appearing at the London Film and Comic Con. This event has close to 100,000 attendees over three days and takes up the whole of London Olympia. It kicks off with a book signing at Forbidden Planet alongside 25m-selling author, Eoin Colfer.

To say that this is beyond wildest dreams is a suitable understatement.

And this is all because of an ordinary house and idea that just seems to capture our imagination.

This week I have been called mad, eccentric and tasteless – but today I am also very happy. Thank you for your support in bringing this idea to life – and I hope that every time a child is inspired to ignore the constraints of time and money – and do something extraordinary, you know that you shared a part in making that happen.

I would also like to share here the speech from the book launch, as it covers the rest of the ground I want to share today. Thank you all again.

John Tode / John Trevillian / John Tarrow

But always:


The launching of this book brings me to the end of a thirty-year project that took what I was given and created from it the life I wanted. Talliston is not a fantasy house, and nor is The Stranger’s Guide a fantasy book. They are very much my reality.

I wrote a poem for the house once and it began with the words: Enter this house; those who dare.

Talliston is for those who dare to dream, dare to be different, dare to challenge what life expects, and open themselves up to the possibilities that await us when we do just that. That is the story of the book, the story I want to pass on to all the book’s readers – young and old.

But to have the conviction to do that, you first need to surround yourself with people who unconditionally love and support you, so I’d personally like to take this time to thank a few of those people…



Upon the outside of Talliston is a brass plaque with my father’s name … and son, London England. It commemorates an incredible gift of time, patience and support in building the house and gardens – and as a son, I could ask for no greater gift from a father than that.



As the house is dedicated to Ron, then to all who know her, it will come as no surprise that the book is dedicated to my mother, Jean.

I cannot overstate her influence on me, my life and my writing, and if the book contains any wisdom at all, it is because I stole it from her. Her belief in me became my belief that life was something you lived, not something you suffered (Sorry to all the Buddhists in the room).


In the acknowledgements, I mention the many people who made this book happen, but to close I’d like to focus on just two of those:



I wrote in a previous book, that without you there is no me. But it’s also true that without you there would be no Talliston either. Not as it has become. Thank you for giving me the time and space to write this book. And I hope readers for all eternity will thank you for that gift.



And while we are talking of the gift of time, finally, I’d like to thank Michelle Garrett for the unparalleled editorial and editing support you gave to this novel. I cannot say that without you this book wouldn’t exist… but I can say with perfect honesty that it would be a far, far lesser thing.


I created Talliston because I needed a house that was beautiful and functional – and allowed me to go on wild adventures without ever leaving home. The extraordinary lies within all of us. Including every child or adult that reads this book. Including you.

I hope you all love every single word.



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