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today 6/2/16 on aobibliosphere™ [aobibliospotlight™: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart]

Friday, July 8, 2011

the world of Tormay: guest post by Christopher Bunn

The World of Tormay

The character of Jute, the young thief, knocked at the door of my mind back in 2001. He was a bit of a surprise, as I had been concentrating on science fiction during those days and had yet to focus on epic fantasy. When he showed up, however, I knew I had to see his story through, and thus began a ten-year odyssey of writing the Tormay trilogy. 

One of the very first things I did was construct the world of Tormay, as I find it near impossible to write at length without having a physical context. I suppose I had the maps of Middle Earth and Narnia lurking in my subconscious when I devised Tormay, for how does one escape the monolithic influences of childhood?

It was my own background, however, that provided the most detail. I've traveled a great deal in my life. I've worked on all the continents except for Antarctica. There are certain places that made a great impression on me in terms of landscape. I wanted Tormay to be a combination of the best of them, an articulation of my own memories. Therefore, the Morn Mountains, for example, are a recreation of the Swiss Alps, those awful, beautiful peaks that have meant death for some, refuge for others, inspiration, splendor and an icy, endless cold. The barren south of Harth (this is a place only visited in the third book of the trilogy) was largely inspired by a visit to the Sinai Desert. The far north, Harlech, was based on Scotland, with its moors and cold cliffs and lonely coasts.

Despite being based on a patchwork of memories, Tormay's geography has taken on a life of its own for me. It has become its own world. I could walk its length and breadth in my mind, and as I do over the upcoming years, I suspect I shall find more stories to write.
Language & Tormay

Language is an important thing for every writer. It's our toolbox, the nuts and bolts of our creations. Obviously, we cannot tell stories without it, whether on the screen, the printed page, or around the campfire. For me, however, language is one of the themes of the Tormay trilogy.

One of the things that formed my story (and this honestly was in my mind from beginning to end - ten years) was the idea of the word predating the object. Plato suggested the idea in his Theory of Forms, that an idea or concept was a more fundamental reality of a thing rather than the material thing itself. The idea also appears in Judeo-Christian thought, in Genesis as well as the first chapter of Saint John's gospel. In the beginning was the word, and the word was made flesh.

Fascinating stuff for me, particularly from a writer's perspective. I took the idea and ran with it in the trilogy, creating a world of languages that were layered and layered upon each other. The older the language and the closer it was to the first, original language from the beginning of time, the more inherent power each word of that language would have. Thus, the very first and earliest word for stone was actually more true than a physical stone. This concept motivated the wizards and scholars of Tormay in their hunt for words. A wizard would hunt for years, for decades, even for a single word if it was from one of the earlier, older languages.

This idea ended up being a consistent theme through the three books of the trilogy. I must confess, even after 450,000 words, I barely scratched the surface on where one could go with this concept.

The Hawk and His Boy

Book 1, The Tormay Trilogy
One night in the city of Hearne, a young thief named Jute is instructed to break into a wizard's house and steal an old wooden box. It sounds like a straightforward job. Climb down the chimney, creep through the house, find the thing and get out fast. Unbeknownst to the boy, however, the box contains the knife that killed the Wind. Overcome with curiosity, Jute opens the box and sets off a chain of events that soon has him on the run from the wizard, his old masters in the Thieves Guild, and their client, who happens to be the Lord of Darkness himself. On his odyssey of escape, Jute is aided by an unlikely assortment of friends, including a guilt-ridden assassin, a reluctant wizard, and a hawk who just might be able to teach him how to fly. But the Darkness will do anything to find Jute, even if it means plunging the whole land into war.
The Hawk And His Boy, at around 75,000 words, is the first book of The Tormay Trilogy. The trilogy continues with The Shadow At The Gate, and concludes with The Wicked Day.

The Shadow at the Gate

Book 2, The Tormay Trilogy
The second volume of the epic fantasy saga that began with The Hawk and His Boy takes us back to the story of the thief Jute. The emissaries of the Darkness have infiltrated the city of Hearne in search of him. Desperate to escape, the boy flees the city and heads into the wilderness of the north. But the ghosts of the past have other plans for him and, soon, Jute and his friends must choose between their own deaths or the destruction of the entire land. All the while, the mysterious lady Levoreth races against time in order to discover who is behind the schemes of the Darkness.

Christopher Bunn
I live on a farm with my family in California. Whenever I have some free time, I usually write or make a bee-line for the guitar or piano. Life has always been like that. I first started writing in earnest in sixth grade, laboring under the assumption that stories about intelligent avocados, blenders and extra-terrestrials would find a ready market. Reader reaction subsequently convinced me otherwise.

These days, I write mostly fantasy and science fiction, though the humor genre greatly interests me, as P. G. Wodehouse and Richard Powell are two of my favorite authors.

I don’t make my living from writing, though that’s always a moon to shoot for. Instead, I work for a farming company, the latest job in a long procession of eclectic work. Welder, irrigator, missionary, house painter, gardener on an Israeli kibbutz, orphanage in Ethiopia, ran a post office in a UN refugee camp in Thailand, associate producer and jack-of-all-trades for a TV production company in Scotland, construction down in the Amazon, data processor for a health insurance company (arguably the worst job in the world), interactive producer for an animation company in Chicago, ran my own company for a while and produced kid’s DVDs, land use consultant. Being a father and husband, however, is the hardest and best job of all.

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i would like to thank Christopher Bunn for guest posting today and to you as well for stopping by.

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