“You can’t make babies on one idea.” -Alan Ayckbourn
The story of the Fate of the Qhami has come in bits and pieces. It has percolated for a long time (almost a decade at the time of this post) so I can’t necessarily recall the origin of every single bit. At the same time I have tried very hard to make the story and characters unique and original. People will probably say when they read this that, “Oh, he was influenced by this book or that movie.” That’s not the case. I’m sure it carries traces of the many things I’ve read and seen but if so, it has not been conscious borrowing. Here’s what I can remember:
In early 2008 I started with a few germs of ideas–snippets of story lines and vignettes. Originally Davi was the main character. Elkasu (originally called Cyrus) had come to the First Erq before the main action took place. He had been converted by an itinerant minister and joined the Exiles. The main story line was what now happens in Book Two.
Tansul was in a fishing village on an Unseeing world where he was being cultivated by a Noble in stasis as a replacement for her long dead husband. The whole sequence was originally going to start with Tansul and the Noble’s steward (I never did name her) fleeing the village, getting picked up by Volkas and somehow ending up in the First Erq. So there was going to be one book for Tansul, one book for Davi, one book for Amjia (originally called Dema), and one book with all of them together. I’m not sure how much I had about Bodin (but he was first called Bodine).
In March 2009 I started writing what would later be Ezai on an index card that I was using to study for the GRE. I started out with just sa, ma and a couple other word pairs.
That summer I started creating Ezai in earnest. I started by brainstorming new letter combinations (words) alphabetically. Then I matched words to them in binary pairs at first (light-dark, happy-sad, full-empty, etc.). Trying to figure out how to tell time in the Qhami brought about the Dawn of Order and the Primarqs. (That might have come earlier, I’m not sure.) I had a few vignettes of Bodin’s story.
I got this big grin on my face and I thought, “Yeah, that could really be something.”
I can remember the moment when I first knew I had to write the book. I was doing my student teaching at Dobie Elementary School in Dallas, Texas, USA in Pre-K classroom in June of 2009. I was doing math with a little girl one-on-one and then in the middle of the activity this little vignette came to me where Korla says to Bodin after he’s almost been killed, “You’re a damn fool for staying.” And I got this big grin on my face and I thought, “Yeah, that could really be something.” I was stuck there for probably fifteen seconds just grinning and not doing anything. That little preschooler was probably wondering what was wrong with me.
That was when I knew I had to write this.