Here´s a somewhat shorter introduction to the book than the one found in its Preface:

Ever since I was introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien´s the Lord of the Rings in the mid 80s I´ve wanted to write a book of my own. The problem was mostly to find something I enjoyed writing about. Traditional fantasy themes like elves, dwarves and wizards didn´t feel right. I wanted something different, something I could feel was entirely my own invention.

So, what was I to write about?

I had in my room a toy hippo and a toy moomintroll which I´d played a bit with a few years earlier (we´re still in the 80s now, in case you wondered). In my imagination I pictured them fighting each other with swords, and suddenly the first seeds of this story had been planted.

The first version of the story was written by hand in small notebooks. It was originally part of an overly grand historical cycle, spanning thousands of years (read Silmarillion rip-off), and if those notebooks still exist I hope no one will ever find and read them.

When I approached the age where you leave your childhood fancies behind and step into the complicated arena known as adult life I abandoned the hippos and moomintrolls in order to focus on more “important” things like beer and women. The story never left me completely, though, and I guess I always retained the dream of turning it into a “real” book. It wasn´t until a few years ago that I realized this was something I might actually accomplish.

It began with a discussion about old childhood stories at an online message board, and I think I actually considered showing people this horrible piece of writing from my childhood. Thankfully, the embarrassment was too intense, and the project was abandoned.

But something had struck a spark into the slumbering darkness of my imagination, and I found myself wondering whether I might actually do something with this old story of mine. The story about Rumpo and the hippozones had always been my favorite, so it felt natural to focus on it. So one day I began writing, convinced I would lose motivation after a few days and abandon the story once more.

But I didn´t lose motivation. In about five months, early in 2003, I wrote the first “real” version of On Hostile Ground. It ended up being about one-third the length of the final version, and I posted it in chunks at the aforementioned discussion board. Surprisingly, there were a few people who read all of it.

I was immensely proud of my work, the first time I´d written something that could qualify as a novel. Looking back now, this first version is almost as embarrassing as the one from my childhood. Perhaps I will find the final result as horrible in a couple of years.

A couple of years ago I went back to the text I´d written back in 2003 and tried to think of some way to extend it. There were many parts I was far from satisfied with, and my writing style had also changed significantly. So I ended up rewriting more or less the whole thing, and as I worked the story grew into something I felt more happy with..

Despite all the criticism I´ve aimed at the story from my childhood, there are names and elements that have survived the years. The major plot line is virtually unchanged, and throughout the story there are ideas and events that go all the way back to the beginning.

Unfortunately, the names Moomintroll and Moominvalley turned out to be heavily protected by copyright law, so the Moomintrolls in this story became the Noori and Moomin Valley was changed to Noori Vale.

The Noori in On Hostile Ground are very different from the Moomins in the books by Tove Jansson (just like my hippos are basically humans with big muzzles), but if you check them out you might get an idea of how I pictured the Noori in my story.

That´s all I can remember about the origin and development of this story. I hope you´ll find it enjoyable. It was certainly enjoyable to write.

One Response to “Introduction”

  1. Dom Says:

    Aw base! This is CUTE.

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