Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Midgard

The action in Thunder Road takes place on Midgard, the realm of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology that is the home of humanity. You know, Earth.

But what is it about Earth that makes it so attractive to the gods? Why are they constantly coming down and mucking around with us mere mortals? Maybe they feel that because they made the world, they are entitled to play with it and everyone and everything upon it. Maybe they just want to appreciate a job they felt was well done.

Every mythology has its own creation story for Earth. In Norse Myth, Midgard was formed from the blood and bones of the primordial giant, Ymir, by Odin and his brothers. The gods built a fence from Ymir’s eyebrows at the edge of Midgard to keep the giants from invading the home of men (fences do make for good neighbours, after all). Surrounding Midgard was a great, impassable ocean that became the home to Loki’s son, Jormungandur, AKA the Midgard Serpent, a being so vast he could circle the world to bite his own tail.

Beyond Midgard are the other eight worlds in Norse myth; Jötunheim, realm of the giants; Alfheim, realm of the elves; Asgard, home to the Aesir gods; the underworld of Hel, named for Loki’s daughter, among them. With these realms and more to choose from, why have Thunder Road start out on boring old Earth, let alone in Manitoba?

No fence, no matter who built it, can keep everything out. If you get a couple hours north of Winnipeg you can hide anything–we still have wilderness. Manitoba has lake serpent sightings, sasquatch sightings, numerous reported hauntings. If you look at our folklore, the monsters are already here.

Then there is Manitoba’s large community of people of Icelandic descent. Manitoba has a rural municipality named Bifrost, Bifrost also being the name of the rainbow bridge that connected Midgard to Asgard. In the myths, Gimlé, also known as Gimli, is the place where the survivors of Ragnarök are said to live; “the most beautiful place on Earth”. I’m sure folks who summer at their cottages in Gimli, Manitoba would agree.

So I had lots of reasons to write about “boring old Earth”, but that doesn’t mean the story will always stay there.

The Next Big Thing Week 11

Thank you, Rhiannon Held, for tagging me in The Next Big Thing. The Next Big Thing is a weekly blog post where the tagged authors talk about a work in progress.

What is the working title of your book?

Tombstone Blues Book Two in the Thunder Road Trilogy is my current work in progress. Book One launches on Thursday, September 6th and Tombstone Blues will release Fall 2013.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Tombstone Blues happened organically from events leading up to the climax of Thunder Road. I’d sketched out a rough outline for this story to write someday, not intending it to be next, but as soon as I wrote: “Hel is jealous and strong. She will not be pleased.” I also knew this book had to be next.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban Fantasy, with heavy Norse mythological influences.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would have said Brett Favre for Ted (at least before all that texting business…), but as I’ve only seen him play himself in Something About Mary, I’m not sure he really counts as an actor. Instead, I’m going to say Ray Stevenson. Perfect height for Ted, and he has a gift for onscreen profanity and violence. Tilda would be Adrianne Palicki. Again, she’s the perfect height. I liked her in Supernatural, and she seems drawn to superheroic/fantasy roles. Loki is a shapeshifter, so he could be (and should be) played by multiple actors (and actresses). It feels like a cheat to say Tom Hiddleston, but I liked him so much in Thor and The Avengers. He might play his Loki a little more sinister than I wrote mine. Hel would be Tilda Swinton, because she does layered madness very, very well. Finally, Thor would be Liam Neeson. He’s big. He punches wolves, and he’s played gods before. What more can you ask for?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Hel’s army invades Winnipeg trying to reclaim Thor’s hammer from its new wielder.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book will be published by Ravenstone Books, an Imprint of Turnstone Press. Currently, I am not represented by an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A little less than three months for the first draft, but as I wrote it immediately after finishing Thunder Road, it sat after its first round of revisions until I sold the first book (a strategy I am somewhat regretting at the moment as my delivery deadline creeps closer).

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

J.A. Pitts’ excellent Black Blade Blues mixes Norse Myth with the locales of his home state. And while I hesitate to mention Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which has won every award and is simply a breathtaking book, it also has strong mythological elements–particularly Norse Myth.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As I said above, the broad events of Tombstone Blues grew out of Thunder Road, but the biggest inspiration for the book was my home city of Winnipeg. It’s history geography and folklore make the book what it is. I just hope Winnipeg forgives me for all the damage my characters are doing to it!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I write an appendix of handy-dandy explanations about the gods and creatures of Norse Mythology, all done in Loki’s best snarky voice.

Tag! You’re it!

David Annandale

GMB Chomichuk

Karen Dudley

Erika Holt

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Rules:

***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) ***
Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them. It’s that simple.
Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Surtur

 

Surtur.

Ruler of the fire giants of Muspelheim. He’s as much a force of nature as he is an antagonist.  He’s a walking cataclysm with a sword.

He was also a perfect choice for my big bad.

The villains of Ragnarök die (of course so do the heroes, the Norse brought us the concept of mutually assured destruction long before the Cold War did): Heimdall and Loki meet their doom together. So do Thor and Jormungandur. But the  god Freyr, who is destined to face Surtur, does so wielding only a set of antlers (note to self, never trade away your magic sword)–either he was too proud to ask for a better weapon, or his fellow gods were such giant dicks that they didn’t offer. Regardless, I don’t like his odds. And since it is unlikely that Surtur would be harmed when he set fire to the world, he was still around after the Fate of the Gods, waiting.

Surtur was the doom of the gods. But “doom” means more than just death and destruction. It is also an inevitable fate. While we’ve been programmed to believe the word has sinister connotations (personally, I blame Doctor Doom for this), it doesn’t have to. In myth–and in real life–fire is as often a force of creation as it is destruction. So then, what sort of new world will the appearance of Surtur create, and who will be caught in the storm?

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Norse Mythology Updates To Talk About A Comic Book

From Prairie books NOW Fall 2011 issue:

Has She No Shame?

Comic explores good, evil, and all things in between…

“What would Batman be without the Joker? How about Van Helsing without Dracula?”

These are questions Lovern Kindzierski muses on when explaining why he prefers villains to heroes. But for the Winnipeg comic creator, it is also an aesthetic decision.

“The villains always had the best designed costumes. Think of Maleficent. She was so much more attractive than the dumpy fairy godmothers.”

It was on his honeymoon that Kindzierski first conceived of the story of Shame, which has now come to fruition in the first of three graphic novels, Shame: Conception. He entertained his new bride with a tale “about the nastiest woman that ever lived.” His wife then held him hostage with a pen and notepad the next morning until he’d written this first arc of the story.

Shame, an outwardly beautiful child was born to physically hideous, but kind, Mother Virtue, when the healer allowed herself one selfish wish—a child of her own. It was from this wish and the meddling of the demonic entity Slur that Shame came into the world. Mother Virtue knew what her daughter would become and so locked the child away in a personal Eden, a place named Cradle. Only there could Shame be safe from the influence of her father.

“I very much like the idea that shame would come from virtue.” Kindzierski says, noting how exhilarating it was to tell this story for the first time. As he was making up the tale, he rolled through the associations of the word shame, and the story became clearer and clearer to him.

“The power of such loaded archetypes just swept me along like a straw being driven by a tornado,” he says.

When Shame embraces evil, Kindzierski’s words are given unsettling weight by his artist collaborator, John Bolton. Cradle’s idyllic cage becomes twisted and bizarre.

“He is a genius,” Kindzierski says of Bolton, feeling  there could not be any artist better or more appropriate to illustrate Shame: Conception. “John is able to portray all of the extremes of beauty and horror of the story and do it all masterfully. As an artist he has no weaknesses.”

Kindzierski, an artist himself, is best known in comics as a colourist.

“I had been writing my own stories for my comic art from way before I broke into the industry,” he says. Nothing came of these first efforts, but eventually Kindzierski’s art got him work in the field. A short story for a Marvel Comics fund raiser was well received and “as I wrote more I got more to write,” he says.

To Kindzierski the great strength of comics as an art form “is that they mainline directly into your understanding of the story,” working on a conscious and unconscious level with their combination of imagery and the written word.

Our understanding of this particular story will deepen in the next two books of the trilogy. Shame’s corruption “has become like a cancerous growth on the face of the world,” Kindzierski says, teasing at a swelling body count now that Shame is free from her prison.

“I like my heroes dark and my villains darker.”

Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: The Norns

The norns were women who would attend children’s births to determine their futures. These women must have wielded great power, as everyone wants the best for their child. I imagine there was a lot of attempts at bribery, or resorting to threats, hoping to ensure a good viewing by the attending norn. I’m certain there were also some (by some, I mean many) grudges settled by bestowing a poor fate on an enemy’s child.

But there are norns, and then there are Norns.

The three that Loki is concerned with; Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld, were responsible for spinning the fates of the gods. Their arrival ended the golden age for Odin and his pantheon. There must have been even stronger attempts from the gods to turn their future away from what the three Norns had seen; the gods had more to lose than any mortal. But Ragnarök happened anyway.

Now that’s power.

Given their role as guardians of fate or destiny, I also had to believe that the Norns would not be feeling kindly deposed to Loki for escaping his fate at Ragnarök–or to me for writing him out of that fate.

And boy did they get their revenge. As it turns out, writing about a bunch of seers is a pain in the ass. They need to be (or at least should be) one step ahead of everyone else. They also raise uncomfortable questions about free will versus predestination. I really should have known better. If my thirty-odd year history with roleplaying games and comic books has taught me anything, it is that seers, while a great plot device, have always been tricky to work with. And I know for a fact there was no surer way to encourage the baleful eye of your Gamemaster than to give your character a precognitive power.

So naturally, I wrote three of them.

Superstition usually holds that bad things come in threes, but then, it says the same of good things. The question for the characters of Thunder Road is: which will the Norns prove to be?