For those who wonder from what strange lobe of my brain the nation of Borschland came, I have no scientific answer. It may have been a Muse from the Southern Hemisphere, on vacation in my brain.
Or it may have something to do with my childhood.
I started creating worlds from a young age. When I was eight my father took me and my brother on a cross-country trip from Alabama to California. I followed along with road maps, taking a special and random interest in Colorado. When we got to California, I set out to copy the road map of Colorado onto a big sheet of brown paper. That copying, however, quickly turned into creating my own road maps with imaginary towns and cities.
As I began reading fantasy novels for children set in other worlds, such as Lloyd Alexander's "Prydain Chronicles," I imitated grown-up authors by writing stories and creating maps for them. One of my earliest novels was "The Morrkale Book," about a boy with a talking dog going after a powerful book of spells.
As I got older I spent a very large amount of time making maps, to the point where, in the sixth grade, two female tormentors of mine, the infamous Kristi and Elaine (who will never be forgiven and never be my friends on Facebook, even if they beg), wrote MAP MAP MAP MAP all over a piece of paper to taunt me about my interest.
The inspiration for Borschland came from one of my best friends, who has the same last name as the nation. I made the first map of Borschland at the age of 13 or 14, and the geography of Borschland today is the same as it was then.
As a teenager I also spent a lot of time playing real sports as well as table top sports. After I played street hockey with my friend (he was a Chicago Blackhawks fan), the Borschland Hockey League was a logical table top addition. The original sixteen teams from that teenage league are in the novel today.
I continued on with Borschland hockey into college-- in fact, it was probably my most faithfully kept-up league-- and developed a fair amount of lore about it. As a college freshman, finding time on my hands, I went to the art store, got paper, drawing materials, and letter transfer sheets (which I had discovered the year before as an editor at my high school newspaper) and created a subway map of Staff Borsch. That next summer I framed it myself, and it is still hanging in my son's bedroom.
As a sophomore, I wrote a desperately terrible short story with Staff Borsch as the setting, long before the days of digital storage. I hope the text of that is gone forever. Hockey figured into that tangentially.
Like a lot of things from my childhood, Borschland went into hibernation as I became an adult, a professional, a husband, and a father, but I managed to make a new map of Borschland somewhere along the way. I had become more sophisticated linguistically then, so I changed names of cities and towns to sound more consistent. Somewhere along the line both of those maps, the original and the copy, have gone missing. My mental map remains strong, though I regret losing the names of many of the smaller towns in Borschland.
Bearland and the other nations of the Continent were also there from early on; Bearland was the setting of my younger brothers' adventures with their stuffed bears, and there was a map of that place as well, with my brothers consulting on what went where. Two maps also of that place existed at one time, also, regrettably, lost.
The inspiration for the current form of my obsession with Borschland comes from my son, who collaborated with me on a blog about Borschland hockey a few years ago. The blog was first going to be straight hockey scores, with Sherm Reinhardt as a kind of main character who added to drama to the race for the championship. Soon, however, I created the character of journalist Kadmus Greningen to comment on the goings-on, and true to my story-oriented nature, an intrigue developed over Sherm and the beautiful poetess Rachajl Martujns. That blog still lives on Blogspot, and some of the details of what will happen in the novel are hinted at in the blog.
In childhood I had the good fortune to discover what type of person I was and what type of talents God gave me. In young adulthood I ran away from that nature, thinking it to be frivolous and un-Christian. But one's nature and gifts cannot stay buried forever, except with a powerful and exhausting amount of denial. So today I embrace my Borschic heritage as an expression of the imagination God has given me.