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Peter Krausche

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The Traveler Series

Genesis

I spent most of the first thirteen years of my life in the United States. During this time I was sufficiently exposed to fantasy and science fiction in the form of the numerous films and novels already available by the 1960's and 70's. But just after my thirteenth birthday, two simultaneous events had a profound effect on my future. While browsing through a bookshop at the airport, where I was waiting with my family for the flight that would hurl me into a new and unfamiliar way of life in Switzerland, I discovered J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

The impact of these incidents left a deep impression on my young persona, and Tolkien's work would later have a significant influence on my writing. The saga convinced me that any world, even one spawned solely by the workings of the human mind, needed its own language, culture, and history to induce credibility and effectively engage the reader's imagination. Although ever prepared to immerse in the perpetual fabrications inspired by such media, the images invoked by my own exploits into the realm of fantasy began to dominate my inner world by my mid-teens and would invariably pursue me into adulthood.

After I had acquired enough of the language to facilitate my assimilation into the Swiss culture and mentality, I stumbled upon the German writer Karl May. Although virtually unknown in English-speaking areas, Karl May was an astonishingly prolific writer - considered by many as a true writer of the people - who compiled numerous travelogues during the latter 19th and early 20th century.

What fascinated me most was that, although Karl May often narrated his tales in the first person, he didn't actually experience the adventures he wrote about for himself but used his exciting stories as an instrument with which to convey a spiritual message. In Karl May's later writing, the fable of Sitara formed the basis of much of his work. On Sitara, a human soul must escape from the sordid lowlands of Ardistan, endure the severe trials of the spirit forge in Maerdistan, to arrive at last in the glorious highlands of Jinnistan as a purified and noble soul.

Maybe I was drawn to such parables because I sensed my own intense struggles looming down the road. Whatever the cause, I cherished the Winnetou Trilogy, or the six part Oriental Odessey. On account of Karl May's subtle yet convincing portrayal of Christianity, which pervades most of May's work, I felt drawn to the author's beliefs, preparing the way for future events.

Several years later, I came across C.S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles while seeking means to delve deeper into my newfound Christian faith. I was twenty-one at the time and immediately fell in love with Lewis's enchanting world, a world that seemed to be filled with light and magic. But I was especially intrigued by Lewis's ability to convey profound spiritual truths in such a simple and enjoyable manner. Another key element of the Traveler series had fallen in place.

Crossway Books released Stephen Lawhead's Dragon King Trilogy in the mid 1980's. After soaking them in, I watched for further publications by this thrilling new author. My patience was rewarded when the first installments of the Pendragon Cycle began appearing on the market later that decade. My fascination with complex sagas that convey a spiritual message continued to grow.

At the same time, I was often preoccupied with the darker side of human nature. Much to the dismay of my wife, Rita, I dauntlessly explored the writing of horror authors, such as Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Stephen King's The Shining, or Peter Straub's Ghost Story. Today, I still feel that such literature can be an asset, because it examines the origins of our anxieties and allows us to confront our deepest fears by giving us a rational hold on the irrationality of terror.

In 1989, I relocated to the United States with my family for a two-year sojourn. During this stay, I began to draw the first maps of Piral and to outline the language and history of the Selanian culture. But increasing phases of depression and restlessness and my wife's failing health compelled me to return to Switzerland, where I wrote the initial drafts of The Rose and The Alley, the prelude and first interlude of the Traveler series.

My quest for circumstances which I hoped might alleviate my often depressed state of mind led me to explore forms of Christianity that were still unfamiliar to me. Because the conservative circles I mixed in frowned upon my preference for futuristic fantasies, I turned aside from my attempts at serious writing for over a decade. Although I later often regretted this decision, my experiences during this time inspired significant milestones of the Traveler's journey into the light.

As my personal situation became more difficult, my attention was directed to certain types of literature of the 19th and early 20th century. I was especially intrigued by such authoresses as Jane Austin, the Brontë sisters, and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Although the latter's Anne of Green Gables series is her most popular work, her Emily Trilogy is my personal favorite. Obviously, my exposure to such literature deepened my interest in the emotional aspects of human experience and the penetrating influence everyday situations have on us when we're confronted with a certain culture or way of life. This is demonstrated quite brilliantly in Jane Austin or the Brontë sister's keen observation of society.

Finally, in the fall of 2003, I dug up my old manuscripts and earnestly began working on The Traveler. Spurred on by the many smoldering experiences seeking release from within me, my work progressed quickly and I'd soon outlined the complete saga. The compilation of the tale had a therapeutic effect, and I felt I might finally be exorcising my demons. It was certainly a step in the right direction, although many difficulties still waited ahead.

In the spring of 2005, I was put on sick leave indefinitely. Soon thereafter, I was diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). With this diagnosis, the reasons for my current depression and many of the problems I'd had in the past became clear. I'm still working on these things and trying to find a profession that will accommodate my need for creativity and diversity.

I originally envisioned The Traveler as a four-part novel with the following structure:

Prologue
Prelude: The Rose
Part 1: Nadil
Interlude: The Alley
Part 2: Tolares
Interlude: To the Ends of the Earth
Part 3: Travis
Interlude: Crossroads
Part 4: Malentisa
Coda: Convergence
Epilogue

Because the novel continued to grow and would have been too lengthy and complex, I began the task of breaking it down into several volumes. In the end, a structure of seven books crystallized, giving the series its final form. Please click here for an Overview of the Traveler Series.

 

Acknowledgments

I gratefully acknowledge the Karl May Society, which is registered in Hamburg and has its offices in Radebeul, Germany. Please click on the link below to go to their English hompage:

Karl May Society - English Home Page

 

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