David Hair, award-winning fantasy writer, shares the inspirations behind his new fantasy adventure series, THE TETHERED CITADEL: Map’s Edge, World’s Edge and Sorcerer’s Edge.
What inspires a story? It’s a seemingly simple question, but the answer is always really complex, because any idea pull things in from many different places. For The Tethered Citadel trilogy, the answers are manifold. After writing some really long books, I wanted to write something shorter. Being from a former colony, I wanted to write something that touched on colonization. I wanted to write about community and how the collective can overcome the seemingly insurmountable, rather than it focusing on just one hero who does everything. I wanted the story to feel, at least in Book One, like a road movie, because I like stories of travel and discovery. And it was the Trump years, so I wanted to write about the abuse of power by narcissistic rulers, and the blind faith that some needy people place in powerful people and institutions. But I still wanted it to be a fun fantasy adventure, with all of those things tucked into the background, and mostly subliminal.
But the thing I most associate with this story is an overseas holiday (remember them!) to Japan. I was struck by how the landscape of Japan and New Zealand had so many similarities – both countries are formed by islands at the edge of the Pacific, on a roughly northeast-southwest axis, with a mountainous spine, in similar climatic zones (though on opposite sides of the equator). Remove the buildings and differing agriculture, and the two countries start to look quite similar.
I also saw similarities between the Japanese warrior culture of the past, and the Maori of New Zealand. That started me thinking initially about alternative history ideas like “What if Japan had found New Zealand before the Europeans?” (an idea that still intrigues me), but then, as is the way of these things, the idea got blended with other concepts, and lo and behold, The Tethered Citadel was born, a story set in a fantasy world that draws inspiration from both countries, as well as Europe.
What emerged from all that is a fantasy journey off the map, full of surprises and discovery, both in terms of lands and people, but also of new ways of thinking and behaving. It’s a culture clash story, a little guys against the oppressors story, and about finding your family. But mostly, hopefully, its pacey and enjoyable entertainment. I hope that’s how you find it, if you give it a go.