The last few years have been filled with deaths of famous artists. I’m only going to list three – Bowie, Prince, George Michael. All three shocked me, because those artists have always been around and I somehow assumed it would never change. Bowie, in particular, had more lives than a cat, how could he just go and…run out? I stayed online for way too long, refreshing forums and news, trying to make some sense out of it. When yesterday I found out that Marie Fredriksson of Roxette has gone I just started crying, listening to my playlists, the albums, Marie’s solo records. She wasn’t a celebrity to me. She was a friend who’s been around for thirty-one years, even if we didn’t talk much.

I was a bullied kid – fat, bespectacled, introverted – before nerds and geeks were invented. I had three companions: my Atari computer, books, and music. Kylie Minogue, sweet and bubbly (especially in the ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ video) was my first imaginary best friend. Marie was my second. The first Roxette song I have ever heard was ‘Dressed For Success’. I didn’t speak or understand English yet and I didn’t know what she was singing, other than ‘success’. She had the weirdest hair ever and a voice so powerful it just sounded like all I wanted to have – self-confidence, strength, joy. When I listen to it today, I realise that similarly to Gwen Stefani’s ‘What You Waiting For’, ‘Dressed For Success’ is an autobiographical song of someone who might feel the fear, but will do it anyway. Yes, ostentatiously it’s about love, but it’s really about success, and it was coming. I didn’t know that. I just knew I loved the song. I was eleven years old and this music was mine.

 

 

A few months later ‘The Look’ arrived and suddenly my personal band wasn’t just mine anymore, because it was the hottest discovery of the year for the entire world – the single charted at #1 in the US and #7 in the UK. They proved themselves right, they dressed for success and the success came. I felt proud. Yes, this proto-hipster muttered to himself, I loved them before they were cool. I didn’t know how soon Roxette would stop being ‘cool’, but I knew that even the kids who bullied me came over, panting in excitement, to ask ‘have you heard about the Rock Set?!’ and they were my best friends for the fifteen minutes it took to copy ‘The Look’ from my cassette tape to theirs. ‘Listen To Your Heart’ duly broke my twelve-year-old heart, but it wasn’t until ‘Dangerous’ that I declared Roxette my new favourite group ever.

Then Joyride came and did a rare thing: sold eleven million copies and, because of that, destroyed Roxette’s career.Continue reading

I’ve been asked to provide some insight into my creative process. This made me feel like a total ~*hipsté-artisté*~ – I never really sit down and open my laptop thinking “ooh, it is time indeed to engage in my creative process” – but it coincided with a curious event.

The book I am now working on, Children, will tell the stories of Magni, the son of Thor, and Maya, raised by Freya – and the stories of Thor donning a wedding dress to recover his stolen hammer; of a giant blacksmith building a wall around Ásgard, the world of the Gods; of Loki seducing the blacksmith’s horse, then giving birth to the eight-legged stallion Sleipnir; Thor’s duel with the giant Hrungnir and his subsequent dealings with the wise Gróa. The follow-up, Land, will tell about the first journey from the Nine Worlds into the tenth, a journey the goal of which will be the discovery of the new Ásgard.

At this point Children is slowly heading where I want it to be and Land is a sketch of a first draft with plot outline. Land will take much less time, since it will be a sequel, but by now I have rewritten Children more than ten times. I don’t even feel ready to send it to my editor. A part of my creative process is that I’m an obsessive perfectionist.

 

The great unknown

My beta readers reported that they were confused by the names of the Norse Gods and the setting(s) – the Norse Nine Worlds. I was surprised, because I believed that everyone must have seen the Thor movies. Not that I’d recommend them as a primer on heathen faith. This added an extra part needing to be written: an index and possibly a companion e-book. It was also another conformation that the beta readers are indispensable. Sometimes when I rewrite something ten times I forget that I took things out and it isn’t until a fresh pair of eyes lands on the text that I find out what I’ve done.

Continue reading

Recently I’ve spent a few frustrating days catching up with TV. I rarely watch anything, but when I found out that two of my favourite books – Good Omens and American Gods – were receiving the visual treatment, I knew that within ten years I’ll sit down and watch, and that I will have a great time!

I did not have a great time.

 

Good Omens

Watching Good Omens was the most frustrating time I’ve spent in front of the TV since I had last screamed “y u so STUPID, Jason Stackhouse?!” at the screen. When Good Omens got something right, it was better than I could have ever imagined, surpassing what I would have considered to be perfection. When it wasn’t perfect, though, it was either embarrassing or… boring.

 

 

The biggest problem was God. (This is not a sentence I ever expected myself to utter.) Frances McDormand was a great choice, it’s just that she shouldn’t have been there at all. Certain parts of the book have proven to be too difficult (or impossible) to translate into a visual medium, so the series would sort of take a break for McDormand to provide a rambling explanation of why things were happening. I was reminded of my grandma, who used to watch soap operas. We’d sit in front of TV and I would discreetly fiddle with my phone, as grandma provided running commentary: “you see, this is Bill, he is a bad guy, he is very rich because he stole the money from his ex-wife, and this bitch here is his girlfriend Tabitha, she’s cheating on him with the gardener, she is not a nice woman at all, but then Bill deserves it…” I’ve always felt that if something needs to be explained, it doesn’t belong – in a book, in a museum, on TV. This is not to say that I would have known how to do it – it just didn’t work for me.

Continue reading