Well, of course those are everywhere for a writer. When I read the first descriptions of Blais’ cottage, I am reminded of a little room in my mother’s house, a walk-in closet once known as the “toy room” which I briefly claimed and furnished before I moved to my first apartment. It was just large enough for a long bookcase and a storage bench, which I bought, assembled and stained to match. Pretty much everything Tristan mentions was in there, if it actually existed and wasn’t something I was longing for, like a horse of my own. And many books, though I never actually built a bookcase out of books and boards.
As to what a wizard might be like, I had my reading to look back to: Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave et al, Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain novels. Not T.H. White’s The Once and Future King—because though those books are wonderful, that’s textbook for wizard as doddering old man. And I saw an illustration in a Newsweek book review section that sent me out to buy Margaret Mary Kimmel’s Magic in the Mist (Athenium 1976), with Trina Schart Hyman’s wonderful illustrations. It’s the story of a Welsh boy called Thomas, who is studying to be a wizard—with very little success. Thomas has messy dark hair—and round glasses. (Harry Potter’s look is nothing like original, which is why I don’t mind a bit that he seems to look so much like my Tristan. I just play off the notion that my wizard—who’s been around way longer than Harry—is just like Harry Potter: except Tristan was home-schooled!) Anyway, Thomas’ cottage, as drawn, has a great look—everything looks handmade, and the room leaks. And on sober reflection, I think the only reason Blas’ cottage has a second storey—where Tristan supposedly sleeps—was to keep the books downstairs dry is the roof leaked. I can’t imagine Tristan having more up there that the pile of blankets the hen made a nest in (Moonlight) and some herbs drying from the rafters. If it was cold he’d sleep in front of the hearth and if it was summer he’d sleep in the orchard, supposedly doing his astronomy lessons. After all, Blais never expected to have a baby dumped in his orchard, and never made any provisions for anyone to share his cottage.