Tilda Art

A lot of cool things happened while I was prepping for conventions, getting sick and trying to finish Graveyard Mind edits in the late stages of 2017 and early 2018. Among those cool things: Kevin Madison did a phenomenal version of my Thunder Road character, Tilda, youngest of the Norns.

Love it! Thanks, Kev!

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“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” A Thunder Road Holiday Story

I posted this story last year as a holiday gift for my readers. I’m reposting today with the promise of a new Thunder Road holiday story tomorrow.

My readers have been very good to me. Some of you Thunder Road fans have had images from my work tattooed on your bodies, some of you have taken my work and made art of your own (Like Kevin Madison’s illustration below). You’ve also emailed or tweeted or messaged me to say you’ve enjoyed the stories I have to tell. This has meant the world to me.

So I hope you’ll enjoy “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” a second time.

WhileShepherdWatched

Art by Kevin Madison

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Happy Holidays! Have a Thunder Road Short Story!

My readers have been very good to me. Some of you Thunder Road fans have had images from my work tattooed on your bodies, some of you have taken my work and made art of your own. You’ve also emailed or tweeted or messaged me to say you’ve enjoyed the stories I have to tell. This has meant the world to me.

As a thank you, I wrote you this story for the holidays.

I considered calling it “Merry Christmas, I Don’t Want to Fight” but decided to go with something more traditional. I hope you’ll enjoy “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” with my compliments.

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Loki’s Guide To Norse Mythology: Tilda Eilífsdóttir

Tilda

Similar to my protagonist, Ted Callan, Tilda doesn’t appear in the myths, not specifically, anyway. The fortune telling and fate spinning Norns, however, certainly do.

My fascination with fortune telling and precognition was always tempered by potential downsides, a feeling that probably came out of the various comics I read and RPGs I played. The X-Men definitely took a turn for the more fatalistic after “Days of Future Past” knowing what was in store for them (in at least one of their futures, I’ve read X-men for thirty years and even I can’t keep it all straight anymore). I also had a sadistic gamemaster who’d punish you for using those very helpful powers and spells because they required more planning on his part. You know who you are.

Tilda showed up out of the blue in Ted Callan’s life and world. She popped up just as suddenly in my writing, there was no short story antecedent. One moment there was a dark highway, and then there was Tilda. She didn’t live in Gimli until that popped out of her mouth. I sort of knew I wanted a fortune teller of some kind to be a part of the book eventually, but just as the dwarves weren’t dvergar yet, that seer wasn’t necessarily going to be one of the “capital-N” Norns either.

I had a friend who used to hitchhike all over the place. She scared the bejesus out of me at times, but she was fun, and she had some great stories. She had seen some amazing things in her travels, and while Tilda is not her, there is definitely something of that friend in the young Norn’s literary DNA. I wanted Tilda to have a wealth of stories in her past, and to be more knowledgeable about not only the magical world, but the real world than Ted. Her broader life experience also helped close the age gap between them.

Spoiler alert for those who haven’t read book one:

Tilda gets all of the powers of the Norns, visions of not just the future, but the past and the present as well. I did this because Ted gets a lot of power in Thunder Road, and I wanted Tilda to be Ted’s match both physically and magically. Even though the book is about Ted, Tilda needed to undergo a journey of her own. And just as I wanted to write a post-Ragnarök story, I liked the idea of playing with the maiden-mother-crone concept. Mixing the magical and the mundane is one of things I love most about writing Urban Fantasy. Ted and Tilda fell together very quickly, fueled in part by the Norn’s belief that they are fated to be a couple, so in Tombstone Blues I wanted to examine how much “destined for one another” means when you move in together for the first time.

Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Ymir

Every mythology and religion, even those whose believers exist only in fantasy novels, have their own story about the origins of their world. These stories all a little weird when you think about them. Norse mythology is no different, and Ymir is at the heart of that weirdness.

Out of the primordial chaos was formed a primordial giant, Ymir. When he wasn’t feeding from the primeval cow, Auðumbla, he spawned children from his armpits and a six-headed jötunn from his feet. After Odin and his brothers killed Ymir, they fashioned entire worlds and oceans from the dead giant’s bones and blood. Odin even built a fence from those bones to keep the more monstrous denizens of the Nine Worlds from attacking the Earth (Midgard).

One of the common features of Urban Fantasy novels is a “Secret History” to explain why humanity doesn’t know recognize the existence of magic. The Thunder Road trilogy does have its own secret history, I know what the dvergar, the Norns, and Loki (and others) have been up to in between the days following Ragnarök and the events of Thunder Road, and I might even write some of those stories, if readers are interested. 

In Thunder Road, it is the fence built from Ymir’s bones that keeps magic from being seen by the majority of humanity. Fences do make for good neighbours, as the old saying goes, but as every homeowner also knows, no fence is perfect (or as Ted Callan would put it, “Shit happens.”). Things can slip through, once they do, and you are exposed to a world of magic, you’re in, and you’re in for life.

It’s a life sentence that doesn’t take very long to commute.

Another important feature in Urban Fantasy is the setting. The city is often as much a character as the protagonist. Winnipeg’s downtown has a bit of a tough reputation. While I’d rather my home city be known for something other than violent crime, missing persons, and murder, reading about these events definitely influenced me into choosing to make joining the magical world a death sentence.

Tombstone Blues releases October 15th, how much longer can the bones of Ymir hold?

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?