bjornlarssen

What’s coming in 2024

I’ve spent almost all of 2023 writing, even though it might seemed like I hid from the world (I have). If you like any of my books so far, good news follows! (I’m really looking forward to having TWO books in ANY series…)

 

Storytellers follow-up

It’s happening. A few months ago, on a Thursday, someone asked me if there will ever be one, and I said no – I just didn’t have any ideas. I’d have to force myself to squeeze something out and it wouldn’t be very good. Then I had a dream. (Which is actually how Storytellers started, only it took me three years to realise the dream won’t give up until I write it down.)

The Poison Never Dies is about a thirteen-year-old girl, Camilla – because of course I know everything about being a 13yo girl – who awaits her first date. The boy never shows up. Instead, she overhears a very suspicious conversation. In the morning, the person is found dead. There are no traces, no reason to believe there’s been a murder, and Doctor Brynjólf declares the person died of natural causes. Is Camilla right? Was this conversation about what she thinks it was? Who’s going to believe her? There is love, there is another murder, lots of blackmail, and I know you only really want to know one thing. The answer is: YES HE IS THERE. And he’s happily married. With a son, too.

I’m posting quotes of the unfinished version on my ko-fi for subscribers only. I don’t know whether I’ll finish the whole book this year, because…

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Guest Post: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Some Lemon-Ale with Thor!

Guest post by Rowdy Geirsson about things that keep happening to me ALL. THE. TIME.

 

Sometimes life just sucks. This is especially true in the 2020s. The lemons of life are everywhere this decade. It’s basically raining lemons. Hell, you can’t even turn on the news or play with your godless smart phone without encountering a serious societal lemon of some sort. And that doesn’t even touch on the matter of the depressing preponderance of actual personal life lemons on top of everything. All of which is why maintaining a healthy emotional balance by establishing a spiritual connection with the drunken rage of Thor is now more important than ever.

Simply put: there is no better coping mechanism for dealing with life’s lemons than to churn them into Thor’s favorite intensely alcoholic lemon-ale with a flurry of tension-releasing, physical body spasms and highly therapeutic, vocalized outbursts such as, “I AM THE SON OF ODIN AND MY HAMMER WILL DESTROY EVERY EVIL GIANT IN JOTUNHEIM!” Some of life’s most common, everyday lemons and how they may be remedied with the unhinged anger of Thor are discussed below.

 

LIFE GIVES YOU THE LEMON OF A CRANKY, OLD FERRYMAN WHO WON’T LET YOU ON HIS BOAT

Oh gods, you know how it is. You get to some river or lake or fjord of whatever on your way home from killing dumb trolls and you just want to get across, but there’s some cranky, old ferryman on the other side who heckles you and won’t cross over to give you a ride. I mean, what the fuck, right? And then he starts insulting you! Just completely unacceptable. So, shit-talk him for a while and feel your uncontrollable rage build within (embrace it) and then threaten to whoop the old coot’s ass since everyone fears you, you ferocious animal. And then when the jerk finally tells you that your wife is cheating on you, just flip the fuck out. Seriously, go flat-out ape-shit berserk; nothing is better for your chi than raging like a pissed-off thunder god. Unfortunately, the distance is too far to reach the old man and actually beat him to a bloody pulp, but you’ll still feel a lot better. And then afterwards you can rehydrate with Thor’s favorite summer shandy for the very long walk home while pondering certain accusations of adultery.

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Why Bjørn Doesn’t Write to Deadlines

This post originally appeared on my ko-fi blog, available for my supporters – thank you!

After I finished Storytellers, I started working on a disastrous book called The Age of Fire. Luckily I realised in time that not everything I wrote was genius just because it came from my brilliant mind, and shelved the thing. It featured a woman called Maya, though. Maya dressed only in black, had messy, mid-length hair, and liked silver bracelets.

When I started on Children, it had a different title, and was supposed to be Magni’s book, until Maya found out and announced she wasn’t just moving in, but would have half of it for herself, thanks.

This is how I write. [“I” – Ed.]

Children

By now, as in 2023, I sometimes get a say regarding what happens in my books. When I was working on Children, which received 29 rewrites until it became the version it is, I was not blessed with the ability to negotiate yet. I would write something, Magni would take a look, and announce “I’d never do this.” When I inquired, he’d shrug and say “you’re the author, you figure it out.”

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Children: 27 months later

This post has originally been posted on my ko-fi blog, available for my supporters – thank you!

I’ve been just about to start working on Land – the sequel to Children – very soon for, um, *nervously glances at the April 2020 date on the file sent to beta readers* …a while. In the meantime, things happened. Not just that one thing, but 16 months of intensive c-PTSD therapy. Followed by the discovery that my subconscious has actually kept the best for last.

(This is not a “pity me” post, just saying.)

Some readers, including other authors whose work I sadly can’t read because it’s too dark for me, told me they had to take breaks while reading Children. One said she had to go for a walk after she finished reading one particular scene. I chuckled, bewildered. The only reason why I put trigger warnings in the beginning were two scenes in chapters four and seven, out of ten. (The hot tub scene is my #livedexperience in different setting, and I was already self-aware enough to know it would be difficult for some readers.) Even though those were just two scenes, not adding those warnings felt like leading the reader into a trap – “haha! you thought this was a weird, but funny book? BAM!”

 

Apparently I was quite alone in that conviction

I mean, y’alls, come on. A lot of Children is based on my life, just kind of cranked up and with more Gods and magic. It seems that some of my past, whether I have written about it consciously or not yet, isn’t just “weird, but funny.” (I follow Carrie Fisher’s teachings: “If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”) I knew I was doing self-therapy, but not how much.

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Stable Diffusion: AI puts “artificial” in “art”

Once upon a time, there was a profession that thrived. Highly valued professionals provided essential services that nobody else could, and charged for them accordingly. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, something new appeared, and things changed. People who devoted many years to perfecting their craft found themselves limited to few, mostly mundane things. The value of their work plummeted. So did their numbers. Nowadays, you can only do it if you either branch out and have other sources of income (or rich parents) or you actually want to be that starving artist.

This profession is called blacksmithing.

Before the industrial revolution, a smithy was the centre of every town and village that had one. A good sword cost a fortune; a chainmail shirt required months of producing tiny rings, then linking them by hand with tiny rivets. Today, there’s very little need for blacksmiths. A few get jobs at movie sets. Some become specialised at producing expensive, intricate swords or knives for collectors. There are still farriers who shoe horses, although mostly the horseshoes come from China. Very few are actually so good and educated that in the blacksmithing world they’re basically Gods, and can amass, oooh, up to 0.001% followers on Instagram than a Kardashian can. But really, who cares if my gate is one out of 50 thousand identical ones, when it costs me $500 rather than $5000? It’s not like anybody can tell.

Look at this guy. Holy monopoly, I so would.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t exist. What exists is “wide portrait of a young tattooed man in Iceland on a rainy day, wearing open leather biker jacket, longhaired, bearded, blonde; muscular, handsome, resting on a tough day, profile picture, stormy seas, documentary, oscar winning; perfect face, anatomy, eyes; skin detail, wrinkles, 8k; sharpened; high resolution, denoise”

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My top 5 books of 2022

According to Goodreads, I have read 126 books this year. Some of them were old friends; a few I read more than once, and will again, adding to the suffering of my ever-growing TBR pile.

I have already announced my top 5 of the year twice and changed my mind 29 times. I’m going to write it down and publish, so I am no longer allowed to keep tweaking. Especially as all of those five (ahem) (you’ll see why “ahem” in a jiffy) books are absolute gems – each of the books in my top three belongs at #1 and if I weren’t desperately trying to keep my integrity and avoid including close friends’ books… okay. Here we go.

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Where is Land?

The sequel to Children is called Land. The book explains why the series is called The Ten Worlds, since our heroines and heroes travel from the Nine Worlds Universe to Iceland (where else?) and some of the survivors make it back. It’s going to be cinematic. Epic, actually. There’s everlasting love, but no romance; exploration of consent and abuse in uneven relationships; there’s Iceland and the Hidden Folk. Questions asked in Children are answered, riddles solved. Aha, Land also doesn’t exist, even though I officially announced it, somewhat optimistically, as a 2021 release.

It’s a grown up book. I had to grow up first.

 

Mel

The first sign that I wasn’t ready was deciding to send an outline to a sensitivity reader (let’s call them Mel), because I wanted to make sure I’m doing the right thing. Some of my new characters are Black-coded – dark elves. One of the reasons is that I want to make Norse fantasy less white. I worried… nah, I was terrified that I was just wasting time. That I wasn’t doing it right.

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#poormythology: Creation

I’ve had a few people tell me they see me as an expert on everything Norse. A few others remarked they’d probably get more out of Why Odin Drinks if they knew more about the “real” mythology. Eeep! Don’t try this at home! Do you know how much stuff I totally destroyed to make up my own stuff?! You don’t, so I’ll tell you. Buckle up.

 

Origins

It took over 200 years from Iceland’s christianisation before Snorri Sturluson got to writing Poetic Edda and Prose Edda. Have you ever played the telephone game? Imagine doing that for 200 years, writing down the results, and announcing this is exactly right. Except you might also get executed if you sound too excited about it.

The mythology (I recommend Kevin Crossley-Holland’s book The Penguin Book of Norse Myths) contradicts itself. It already contradicts itself in the first paragraph of the creation myth! Sometimes, myth A must happen before myth B, and vice versa. Some parts of the myths and Sagas have only survived partially. Some are hotly disputed, often depending on people’s agendas. (Crossley-Holland has his own, but he’s clear about it and lists other possible interpretations.)

I play fast and loose with what I know, which often isn’t all that much. I’m writing satire based on Norse mythology. I make up complete stories because there’s one sentence in the Eddas that inspires me. I create my own canon. If I say Baldr is Frigg’s favourite horse, he can’t turn out to be her son five books from now. That’s what limits me. Snorri’s versions are only a starting point.

Here’s the “original” myth of creation.

 

In the beginning there was Surtr

Here is how life began: the flames of Müspelheim and the ice of Niflheim met in a void called the Ginnungagap, creating steam, from which came a giant called Ymir.

Except Surtr, the God of fire, was already in Müspelheim before this happened, very much alive and ready to destroy the Universe that doesn’t exist at this point.

So, back to Ymir. He is a giant. Hard to say compared to whom. Possibly Surtr, although I don’t think so. Also, names already exist. When Ymir goes to sleep – it is not clear where; in the void, I assume – his armpits begin to sweat. This ooze creates the first man and first woman. (Gross.) His leg fathers a son on the other leg. (This is neither how legs or fathering work, but ‘k.) As the ice continues to melt, the fluids take the form of a cow, named Audhumla.

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Be Aware! Autism!

April is Autism Awareness Month.

 

Remember to be unaware of autism between 1 May and 31 March!

 

Some activists are trying to change the narrative to “autism acceptance month.” I can’t say I disagree, because yes, I am “aware” of autism. I am also aware of rabid dogs, my allergy to orange peel, and of the slugs in our garden. I’d argue, however, that “autism,” as in the word itself, is already widely accepted. Autistic people, not so much.

Among many other fun things, about which I’ll write some other time, autism is a communication disorder.

#ActuallyAutistic people are only acceptable to most neurotypicals (NTs) when our lives are either a motivational “success” story or a tragedy.

 

Autism is accepted when it’s either undetectable or crippling

We don’t understand and we don’t know what we’ve done or what you mean. When we ask questions, we do so to learn how to make you more comfortable. We adapt our behaviour and reshape ourselves based on this feedback. This costs us a lot of energy and destroys our sense of self. If you don’t tell us what you want us to be, we won’t know. We won’t earn the “you don’t look autistic” prize. (I told Husby that the next time we hear this he should say “Bjørn, please perform An Autism for the lady.”)

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