The Spanish Gatekeeper - Discussion Page
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Okay, if you haven't
already done so, check out the
chronology or "chrono" page. A lot of great background
information on the history of TNX-37B.
Things about the story that may interest you:
The photos on the back of Books
I and II were shot in Galicia (northern Spain). The photo on the back of Book
III was taken in neighboring Asturias.
"Pazo" (manor house) derives from the
latin word "palatium" (a palace).
In the gardens of the Palacio de Oca
(Galicia), is an escutcheon (or coat of arms) carved in granite many centuries
ago. The escutcheon is that of Doña María de Neira y Vargas who claimed to
be an actual descendant of the Reina Loba, or Wolf Queen. If you examine the
device closely, it is possible to see a representation of the Reina Loba.
What does "pad-like" mean? Pad (or
padda) - Old Norse (Danish/Germanic) term for Toad.
In Book I on
page 26, Bonifacia exclaims "Pardon me?", which may convey the wrong impression.
The text should read "I beg your pardon?" If you're British, you'll understand
what I mean.
In Book I, the
chapter titled "Incident at Katwin," the intrepid refugees are physically stoned
by the local populace, to their utter dismay and disbelief. It may interest the
reader to know that in certain parts of Africa this practice remains a
traditional form of coronation or investiture. It is thought to be a residual
custom originally reflecting either approval or disapproval of a candidate for
office, i.e. an expression of popular sovereignty (no one is really meant to get
hurt). Similarly, Hawaiian chiefs of old had to counter hurling spears as a form
of respectful "greeting."
At one point Peter declares that he has not experienced
"peace" since the age of 14. He's not wrong. When he departed England in the
year 1900 (at the age of 15) the country had been at war with the Boers in South
Africa for a year.
Peter's pocket or folding knife is indeed his only
remaining memento from Earth. The enameled pendant of the running wolf that he
"borrowed" from his aunt was manufactured on TNX-37B!
Yes, the Taixan farmer in Book II pressed Peter to make the
Metchkus River crossing in six days. Peter and the others chose not to heed his
advice. They made four crossings each day (two in the morning and two in the
afternoon) with five passengers in the ice canoe to accomplish the entire
transit in three and a half days!
ON WRITING THE SERIES
I originally wrote the
characters of Bonifacia and Peter as two or three years younger, but this
was deliberately "up'ed" to fourteen and fifteen based on feedback from
early readings of the manuscript. It was felt that the story might be more
compelling if it reflected a certain "Victorian-style innocence" at the
beginning, despite the stated ages of the protagonists. You are
justified in thinking they seem a tad naive, but that agrees with Bonnie and
Peter living unusually sheltered and pampered lives (on Earth). Their daily
existence is sheer fantasy to the average boy or girl of that period.
If I were directing a movie version of this story, I would strive to make
that contrast absolutely clear.
The publisher has rated
the books as "suitable for ages fourteen and up." I would place the emphasis
on "and up." I wrote the book(s) to entertain myself between working on
hard-boiled Hawaiian history (and I'm over 50). Book I proved entertaining
enough to garner a nomination for the Compton Crook Award, which was nice,
but (to me) really means that hard-core (adult) science fiction fantasy fans
"get it." I'm a huge fan of Wells, H. Rider Haggard and Verne. I set out to
write a novel that would satiate my need for more along those lines. It
wasn't until after Books I and II were published that the (very nice) YA
reviews started to come in, so the publisher got on board with that. I had
intended to write a "quirky" SFF book for adults that "mature" teens might
also enjoy. No, no. Definitely NOT a book for an eight-year-old. It was
written as one continuous book, by the way. The publisher broke it into
three parts to fit her reality.
The notion of including a
"glossary" in future editions has come up several times. It certainly did
during production, as did a "cast of characters" and a brief history of each
of the several countries and peoples. I just refused to go along. I think
the "sound" of certain words and terms is just as important as their actual
meaning. I'm not convinced readers need to grasp the details of any
particular military maneuver to appreciate that the battle was won or lost.
On the other hand, if the vocab entices you, or anyone else, to read the
book a second time but with a different purpose in mind, I'm thrilled. For
someone to tell me that they are willing (wanting) to read it over again is
validation that the story is/was worth their time and effort. Readers are
bound to "see" or "hear" things they didn't catch the first time through, or
perhaps cogitate on some of the underlying themes in greater depth. All for