I had held off on writing this until the right words came. They're finally here, and I feel I can write nothing else.
We've lost a lot of people the last few months. Newer friends that we'd adopted into the family, people that attended our church, and lifelong friends that we'd gotten further out of touch than we liked. I'd like to talk about one of the latter, but first, the tie-in that makes this discussion overly relevant for fellow authors, and fans alike.
Readers pick up on an author's heightened emotion, be it a passage about an activity they love, an organization they despise, or a character based on someone they know. When you're connected deeply to a subject, your soul flows onto the pages. For better or worse, the reader can feel a connection that goes beyond the work they hold in their hands, and it enhances the experience. Those of you that have read Apprentice Swordceror may or may not have picked up on that feeling when Kevon and his friends were traveling through the sleepy little town of Elburg, early on in the novel.
Elbert Luhr, the inspiration for the Mayor of Elburg, passed on in mid-January of this year. We had not seen him in longer than we liked, and were unable to attend services due to illness, but his passing shook our family at least as deeply as any other in recent memory.
I was only the son-in-law of a former employee of Elbert's, but always felt like family. The section of the book where the characters passed through Elburg was written shortly after he lent us his truck so that we could save one of my best friends from his lunatic ex-girlfriend's drug dealers (true story, btw). We tried not to ask much of Elbert, but I don't believe he ever said 'no'. It didn't matter if it was buying raffle tickets for our daughters' fundraisers, or letting us store our stuff at his place while we moved. He even bought the first two books in the series, and said he 'enjoyed them, even though he didn't really understand them'.
In addition to the Mayor's character, and the town of Elburg's name, there are a few additional references in the series. The mountain range that runs between Laston and the Dwarven Hold is the 'Lhurridge Range', a play on his last name. The tallest mountain, that Elburg rests at the foot of, 'Mt. Elenna', is a nod to his late wife, Ellen, who our second daughter is also named after. The massive garden in back of the town is a translation of the beautiful landscaping that was always immaculate at his house, and the small farming plot that he worked well into his eighties. The carvings that he sold the merchant Rhulcan were a cradle and toy chest he turned out in his garage workshop for the births of each of our daughters. And the stone carving in the center of the garden, which he called 'The Lady of the Mountain', yet another reference to his wife, Ellen.
I do not know where the future will take the Mayor of Elburg, but I do know that Elbert is on the mountain, with his lady.
Rest well, Good Sir.