Hi! I’m Kendra Namednil, and I’d love to tell you all about Borehole Bazaar, which is a book I’ve written. Trick is, I’ve already described the book to an exhaustive degree in a great number of other places (Goodreads, InkShares, Facebook, etc.).
So today, I’m going to offer something different. For the sake of confidentiality and because I am not about to drag anyone, in any way, through the mud, I’m leaving a whole lot of details vague. If you guess things based on these details, you are incorrect, even if you’re right.
Borehole Bazaar is, thematically, about abuse. The following are the reasons I personally chose to write about the topic, followed by some of my literary inspirations.
About three, maybe four years ago, I started to have a meltdown. It was a long time coming, and it manifested in swift mood swings at work as what I affectionately called The Mask began to crumble.
See, The Mask is a coping tool, a default expression to hide the pain and stress of the world. Many in the service industry wear one; a false smile that seems genuinely warm for the customers and calms coworkers enough not to ask if everything is fine.
This decline was gradual, in that it seemed that my baseline emotional state was distracted and happy. Most folks assumed it was just some minor stress with moving, or that I wasn’t mentioning problems between myself and my ever-doting fiance.
Finally, after about two, almost three years, my boss took me aside and told me to see a school therapist, that I probably needed a safe place to talk things out. I’d started crying when he corrected me on something super minor, the quintessential spilled milk scenario and he was concerned that there might be something more going on.
It took some time, but I finally went to see someone.
Now, I should note that I have seen therapists off and on throughout my life, almost always alone and without sharing this fact with anyone. I never really went to deal with the big stuff, though. It was always a free service and I always came up with the immediate stressors, the straws that were making The Mask chafe.
The reason for this is that I grew up in a small town and I didn’t want to reveal anything about the deeper roots because I didn’t want to hurt anyone else with my own weaknesses.
Confidentiality is fine and good in a place where the parties aren’t all intimately known, and a change in how a body acts around an old friend or some such is just as telling as the facts revealed.
So I went to this therapist that didn’t know anyone I’d ever known and, for the first time outside of my fiance’s embrace, I told the whole truth.
That’s a lie.
I told her about a few isolated moments and tried to paint a clear picture of what I was reliving every night, of how guilty I felt leaving my friends to be victimized again and again and how I’d left my home to be rid of the terrible things that were happening all around me to those I loved.
I mentioned how every rib showed for over a year, not because I didn’t want to eat, but because I couldn’t afford to and didn’t know of a safe place to turn.
I mentioned a few other things, too, and her eyes grew wide with horror.
The second time I went in, I took a baseline reading of my pulse. 118 over 94, which is a little high for me normally but I figured, well, I was probably a little stressed out to be talking about stuff.
Forty five minutes later, I emerged and took my reading again. 162 over something. It stayed up that high for four days. The next week, it stayed that high almost until the next session.
The therapist said I had PTSD, which seemed insane.
She pointed to the fact that I still had nightmares in which I saw myself dying or felt myself being beaten or stabbed again by people I’d trusted. She pointed out that my hands were shaking and my eyes were unable to focus while I talked. She was probably very good at her job, but the experience was too much for me.
That’s when I started to type. My words per minute three years ago was somewhere between 25 and 30. What I first wrote, those things will never see the light of day. I wrote about the things my friends had been through very directly, substituting names and such but otherwise just reliving their experiences.
The words grew.
At 230 thousand words, I put down my first work and started another, this one a bit more subtle and offering alternatives for the characters. I began calling up my friends and we revisited those old moments. We began healing.
When you grow up with very close friends who have been through life’s wringer, you experience their sadness. They see through parts of The Mask and let you peer under their own masks. They hold your hand while you hold theirs, and your souls beat to one another’s hearts. So when I say that some of my friends went through abuse, that I sat at their kitchen table and watched them hit the floor because a parent was upset, I mean to say that it felt like it was me being struck.
When three of my friends, all on separate occasions and with very different scenarios and manners by which they dealt with the situation came to me and said “I was raped” and one said “I cannot have kids. The doctors just told me. My dad doesn’t believe me,” I stood still and watched them go through the motions of life.
Too many of my close, close friends have been “sofa surfing” because there was no place else for them to go.
Back home, there was not a week that someone I’d gone to grade school with wasn’t on my couch and out of the cold. I’m not wealthy now and I was literally on the verge of starving then. I opened as much of myself as I could, I scraped every penny I had, and then I tried to start a new life in another city. I tried to help other folks get out of my hometown. I felt horrifically guilty about leaving, but there had been no future there.
And so I wrote.
A year after I first started typing, I left that job and started a new one. I kept typing. I worked in the Tenderloin in San Francisco doing the Owl shift every weekend for a year.
I kept typing.
I learned about horrible things that folks had kept bottled up for far too long.
I volunteered at a dog shelter to take my mind off of things, tried to save creatures that would never tell me more than I could hear.
I healed, at least a little.
Finally, I looked at the ten or so books I’d more-or-less accidentally written and read them.
Some I set into a pile (in my computer) to be buried away from the light. Some were good in thought but not in execution. And one series, well, that’s Borehole Bazaar.
It was uplifting in the darkest sort of way.
I sat down and read it through, then rewrote it. Then edited it so heavily that it may as well have been rewritten. Then I began talking to some of the friends who had inspired it and we worked out all the behaviors, mannerisms, deflections and raw courage it took to survive being broken into a shape that would let them thrive.
Healing is not a fast process and Borehole Bazaar is only the first in a series.
It’s definitely dark, definitely pulls up images that survivors of subjugation will intimately understand, and it chronicles a shift in mentality that comes of living in almost constant fear. There is always hope, desperate and foolhardy a thing though that is, and there are always children and adults who do not see what is happening as vile until it is pointed out as such.
As for works that inspired this series, well, there is, of course, The Grandfather of Modern Fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien detailed a world from the point of view of the more civilized races, with a brief interlude describing the many clans of orc and uruk hai. From his worldbuilding, races of elves, orcs, goblins, hobbits and many others were given a form greatly removed from the myths of Europe (and a few other continents).
There are a number of books from Dungeons & Dragons, especially some of their earlier editions, and also from Osric, that also helped to inform the setting.
White Wolf’s works were influential in establishing tone and in giving greater lore and depth to several of the races, although this was more a tangential effect than one of finding a Kalutai or Hobgoblin in any of those tales. Iron Kingdoms and many of Blizzard’s works also helped in developing the setting.
The way the words flow was largely pulled from how it felt to read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I used to love reading stories from before the Great War. The use of prose was beautiful on my tongue and I’d spend hours puzzling over how to make the modern books sound like that.
For the protagonist himself, I pulled very heavily from Watership Down. I did not realize I had done this until after it had been written and edited a dozen times over, but Fiver, Hazel and Bigwig all experienced isolated cultures that learned to accept brutality as a matter of course.
From the cult that accepted the snares and kept the artistic mosaic of a rabbit deep in their warren to the brutal camps in the cabbage fields, those rabbits experienced the shock of stepping into another culture for the very first time in ways not often discussed in pure fantasy.
It’s no wonder, of course; I loved that book and the Rats of Nimh series as a child and read them tirelessly.
I have a motto that’s helped me in times when nothing else could.
Dreams are worth chasing. They are not always worth catching.
I would not have survived if I didn’t chase my dreams, and I would be a whole lot poorer if I always caught them. That is to say, I would have breathed only air in their abandonment and I would have had more money and less of myself in their fruition. To strive, to succeed only when chance allows but never to forsake that chance, that is the ideal.
I also liked to say “Life is Good/Life is Grand/Life is Rarely Ever Planned” and follow it with “the worse a thing is now, the better it will be in the telling.”
If you skip to the end and only read this, you’ve read the most important part.
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