[Originally composed September 2005, revised January 2018]
I, and hopefully others, are quite fond of the hyarmi race in my writings, so it might prove a surprise to my readers to learn that they were added almost as an afterthought. Sometime in the summer/early autumn of 1993, when the beginnings of Geren’s tale were first starting to coalesce in my head (but before anyone had gotten names) I decided that it would be too cruel to have t’DoL be the only non-human on my world (the Shado had not emerged yet). Besides, having a planet full of just humans was boring!
So in came the hyarmi. But offhanded as the action was at the time, they didn’t come out of nowhere. There are a few distinct sources that had a role in their origin, two of them tied to the trees/forests that I’ve always loved.
Due to having a very strict childhood, I didn’t see any of the Star Wars movies until I was around 17. I fell in love with the Ewoks, of course, but at the same time, they aggravated me. They simply didn’t match their environment. They were clumsy, top-heavy, ill-proportioned. Not done right. A forest-dwelling, furred, sentient race simply should not be like that, I decided, charming as those Ewoks are. (I still want one).
Sounds odd, right? But while the Ewoks may have been a jumping-point for hyarmi appearance, wormy wood was what became the origin of their society. All I know is that I was younger than twelve years old, because I still lived at ‘the apartments,’ rather than ‘the house.’ I was up at the top of the little hill behind the apartment I lived in, messing around by the four big oak trees and small patch of woodland adjacent. I found branches fallen, stripped of their bark, and engraved all around with shallow trails chewed by insects. Something in me said, ‘This is the writing of some secretive woodland race, long vanished and forgotten.’ The memory stayed with me, and in 1993 it became one cornerstone of the hyarmi: their flowing, elaborate script, that to humans appeared the mindless gnawing of insects...and the attendant secrecy and precariousness of their relations with the humans in Geren's time.
This one got left out in 2006, but should be added. I don't know if I was in junior high or high school when I first learned about manatees, but I was smitten with them at once. Not for their appearance, but their amazing gentleness and peacefulness. To me, it seems that they alone swam straight from the garden of Eden and did not change in the slightest. And in my mind there is a link between the nature of the manatee and the hyarmi with their gentleness to each other and to the earth along with their intense cherishing of life. I believe the hyarmi ethos is definitely tied to what I first saw in the manatees. And a sense of loss as well, through a desire to learn more about the Steller's Sea Cow, so quickly exterminated by human greed, cruelty, and short-sightedness--which remains a threat to all living things.
The first hyarmi characters were Heruvael, Hu-Harek, and Hiarmintar-ik. Hileko came along quickly afterward as a ‘stand-in’ for Heruvael once I realized he’d no longer be living during Geren’s time. Heruvael and Hileko both made their first appearances in stories in 1997. The Black Prince stomped onto the stage hurling insults in 2000, while Hu-Harek had to wait until 2005 to show up in my writing. But Hu-Havenn (Heruvael’s mate and Hileko’s mother) had to wait far longer. Aside from her appearance by request in the short gift dialogue I wrote for my sister-in-law in 2007, it wasn't until 2017 that I actually delved into the tragedy of her life.