I’m the sort of person who only really understands two dates: “sometime in the future” and “OMG”. When we went on a short outing I was working on the bonus hardcover-only story, when suddenly the realisation kicked me in the face: I didn’t have time to tinker with it at leisurely pace for the next month or two, because the book will come out in seventeen days.
Just like that, “sometime in the future” became “OMG THAT’S LIKE NOW WHY WHERE WHEN HOW”.
The release date, October 3, is set and… and I won’t say anything about it not changing, because last time I had deadlines I nearly went and actually died just so that I’d have an excuse for the delay. So it might even not change, who knows. My real fears lie somewhere else…
Every good writer has the impostor syndrome. Except, obviously, I’m not a good writer at all. Everyone else is. Just not me. Storytellers was a lucky strike. Now the readers will find me out.
(I asked a writer who has 21 books out and she says that she is yet to stop feeling this way.)
Maybe I failed to give justice to the Norse lore. Or the characters. Or the… uh… weather. Or trees. Or *insert every single thing that appears in the book*. I am past the stage where I feel like I’m even bad at typing “the”, because there are three and a half sentences on those 442 pages that I know are perfect, so that only leaves everything else.
It’s not Storytellers II
I don’t believe in content warnings on books, yet I added one at the beginning of mine and will be putting a more comprehensive list on a separate page on this website (there will be minor spoilers).
This book includes strong language, depictions of sexual, physical, and emotional violence,
and is only suitable to adult audiences.
Many readers described Storytellers as a dark book. Oh boy. An early reviewer of Children mentioned “a couple of episodes I found on the gruesome side”. It’s true. I removed all the drastic scenes I originally had in Storytellers, replacing them with vague hints. In Children, however, those graphic depictions are key to understanding the characters.
There is a scene in Children, one that I have rewritten 40-50 times, that feels like it’s graphic, but isn’t – what I wanted to achieve is make the reader need a hot, long shower to get rid of the imagery… that isn’t there. Here’s a hint. This scene is supposed to be uncomfortable and upsetting. Calling it “sexual violence” is a massive simplification, but going into any further detail would be a spoiler so enormous that I could as well end the book with chapter 3.
Why chapter 3? Because all those scenes appear in the chapters 4 and 6. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with it. Put content warnings at the beginning of chapters 4 and 6 and nowhere else? That would be a bit late, wouldn’t it? Warn at the beginning – “you might not want to read parts of chapters 4 and 6, in particular pages XXX, YYY, and ZZZ”? At the same time, the readers who have certain expectations when they hear the words “Norse fantasy” will be extremely disappointed with everything else.
Maybe this book needs three editions, whispers the impostor syndrome. I’m just helping.
Storytellers was historical fiction/suspense. Children isn’t.
After some brainstorming with people who read the unfinished version of the book, we arrived at the conclusion that the best description for it would be “Norse adult literary fantasy”. It still doesn’t feel quite right, because the same description could be applied to a somewhat less clean version of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. The full description, though, would feature words such as “except” and “but” and “only”, none of which are genres available on Amazon. It would also be as long as this paragraph. I know, because I tried.
I’m terrified of accidentally misleading both the readers of “real” Norse fantasy and those hoping for another book like Storytellers. Many writers, when they change the genre, use different pen names and I, too, intend to go with BH Larssen once I get somewhere with that non-fiction-memoir-ish-thing which so far has five beginnings and zero middles, not to mention endings. The sequel to Children – Land – will change the genre again to historical fantasy, or even historical fiction with fantasy elements. Changing pen names between book one and book two in a duology would be even more confusing than not doing it.
A title like Children isn’t too helpful either, but when I tried to go with Children of the Gods it turned out that I’d confuse readers of alien BDSM vampire series. Queer Norse Adult Fantasy Children That Is Not Suitable For Actual Children At All doesn’t flow extremely well. Oh Gods. Is that cover representative of whatever this book is? It’s not a “real” fantasy cover. Or is it, with the fire tree? Does The Ten Worlds sound fantasy-ish enough?
It’s good to have comps, i.e. books that feel similar. I have none. I can’t imagine being so incredibly original that my Arté simply can’t be compared to anything else, I just have no idea what that other… something… could be.
I’m glad I could clarify everything for you.
Now nobody will want to buy that, says the impostor syndrome, which is good, because at least they won’t find out how awful it is! I love helping.
Hmmm, this impostor syndrome sounds a lot like Loki.
The politics of Children
Somewhere at the beginning of the year it dawned on me that children removed from their parents by the greatest democracy on Earth were still being kept in cages, only the media moved on to other topics. Those kids were now old news. (The ex-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, responsible for enforcing this “law”, explained that the cages for children were completely different from those for dogs, because “it’s larger, it has facilities, it provides room to sit, to stand, to lay down”. Ms Nielsen does not have children of her own.)
I was fuming all of a sudden, also because I have forgotten about it myself. I want to write something about this, I thought, unable to figure out what “something” could be. Then it dawned on me. There already was a caged child in the book. Even though the news moved on, my subconsciousness clearly hasn’t.
A part of why I wrote about that caged child was to examine how the adult would feel about it years later – and whether it would be possible to simply get over it or love (or even not hate) the person who decided this was the right thing to do.
Plus, the usual
Maybe it sucks.
Maybe when people say they’re halfway through and love it, they will hate the second half. Or the last 25%. Or the last page.
Maybe Amazon will reject it for… reasons. (The Zon is dark and full of errors, so this is actually possible.)
Maybe what I have done with the Gods is going to send me to Helheim a bit earlier than I would like. (I don’t want to go to Valhalla. The smell in this place, honestly. Those warriors who kill each other every day, then drink wine with Odin don’t shower much. As in ever.)
Maybe nobody will buy it, since I’m such an impostor.
Maybe – worse – people will buy it and then they will know how much of an impostor I am. (Fear of success is a thing just as much as fear of failure.)
Maybe I haven’t even thought of enough reasons why EVERYTHING IS RUINED and I should keep coming up with even more ideas…