On 40 acres of property near Tom Boyd's home in South Knoxville, the longtime businessman has already been moving dirt with plans to build a resort based on his vision of "Inner Earth."
"I thought if you want to change the world, you have to create a different world with good people," said Boyd, the 81-year-old father of University of Tennessee interim president Randy Boyd.
The world Tom Boyd wants to create is a $40 million resort named Ancient Lore Village at Boyd Hollow. Plans for the resort include more than 150 period homes and tree houses, a 150-seat restaurant, a 500-person meeting and event center, and a 1,000-seat outdoor amphitheater on land off of Nixon Road and Old Sevierville Pike.
Boyd said he plans to open the resort in spring 2020 and expects the resort to draw 200,000 annual visitors.
The resort is based on a new book Boyd wrote called "The Bobbins – Outcast to the Inner Earth," which was copyrighted in 2019. The book is set in a fantasy world where "there is no negativity and people from all cultures and places live and work together in harmony."
"I spent a couple of years on the campaign trail with my son [Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd] and saw a lot of ugliness and negativity with people tearing each other down. I realized if I built this village in Knoxville, I could change the thinking of the world. I wanted to create a good place, a happy place where people came together and talked and visited," he explained.
The resort will have 100 homes that will look like those of the book and will form "Ancient Lore Village," featuring "grass roofs, decorative exteriors, and fully furnished interiors reminiscent of a fantasy world," the release said.
There will also be 50 tree houses with one, two or three-bedrooms overlooking the village and three luxury "Bobbin Homes" with five bedrooms each overlooking the entire property, according to the release.
The book features some fantasy characters that may seem very familiar.
"Let me show you this guy here. That's me when I was 19 years old," said Boyd as he pointed to an illustration of a red-haired elfish character. "So, that's me and the fairy happens to be my wife."
With a fantasy world and resort that includes orcs, dwarfs, elves, and terms such as Bobbin and "inner earth," there may feel like there are many similarities to J.R.R. Tolkien's tales The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Boyd denies any connection to the well-known books and movies.
"Not at all. If you look at those books, it is all about battles and killing. It's about wars. It's about all kinds of things that are not good. And this book is all about what is good," he said.
Boyd said his book and the works of Tolkien do not share any identical characters. Boyd does not expect any legal challenges to his Ancient Lore Village.
"Absolutely not. I'm not trying to copy anybody," said Boyd. "This is based on my own copyrighted book."
Tom Boyd has previously written two other books about his life and business career, but this is his first fiction piece. PDF-versions of the book are free on the website to the first 1,000 visitors.
"The village will reflect only good and togetherness," Boyd detailed. "Everything is designed so that those who stay with us feel connected to each other. Convenient gathering areas will be provided, and the tree houses will be connected by walkways to a central meeting area with a fireplace and seating to encourage interaction."
The landscaping and architecture will have an "ancient age" look and employees will be dressed in costume on the property.
"The village is designed around a sheep pasture and a goat barn," the release said. "There will be daily events such as sheep herding with dogs, concerts, plays, Halloween parties, a Christmas lighted valley and other activities for guests. Every evening the valley will come to life with millions of fireflies projected across the property."
Boyd also said there will be no in-room TVs in the release, explaining the property will be a place of peace and quiet.
"No motor-driven vehicles will be used, rather electric golf carts designed as ancient wagons transport guests to the various areas they want to visit," he said. "Parking is hidden from view, and roads are lined with trees to protect village views. Ancient Lore Village will also be a very dog-friendly place to stay.”
There will also be no pavement at the resort -- all roads and paths are planned to blend in.
"Another unique aspect of the resort is that visitors will be encouraged to let other guests view their homes during specified mid-day hours," according to the release. "Boyd said this is to foster a spirit of community, a central focus of the book and his primary vision for Ancient Lore Village at Boyd Hollow."
Partners is in charge of project development for the resort and DKLEVY and Citadel Construction will manage its design and construction, according to the news release.
Boyd anticipates the resort will generate 120 full-time jobs along with 100 artisans demonstrating and selling their wares.
"It is my goal to make this a worldwide destination resort," Boyd said in the release. "I would expect the Village to be a major advantage for my hometown, Knoxville. I also hope Ancient Lore Village at Boyd Hollow conveys Knoxville as a good place to live – one where people would be proud to settle.”