bjornlarssen

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.”)

Non-Starred Review, or Where Is My Integrity

 

A while ago I decided to stop giving star ratings to books I am reviewing, unless the book is fantastic, 100% worthy of a five-star score, and I had nothing to do with it.

Before I begin: the examples below are all composites, unless I name them.

*****

A few years ago I have read a book that was objectively bad. The heroine’s job, which was so important she met a Scottish farmer at a related conference – the reason why he attended it was unclear – disappeared once she moved into his farm. She didn’t quit the (freelance) job, it just never made an appearance again. The evil ex seemed to pop up when the author remembered she needed to exist, so that the book could be marketed at certain audience.

I loved that book. I thought I wanted to read a Scotsman rom-com. It turned out that I wanted to read exactly what the author has written: a love letter to farming, and not a romanticised one either. It would have been much better, had it not been billed as a rom-com to make marketing department’s job easier.

The writing/editing would earn it two stars if I were in generous mood. And I was! I five-starred it because of how happy it made me. It took me a while to realise that was the same score I have given to the best book I have read in my life, The Hours by Michael Cunningham.

Why Bjørn Writes

My upcoming book, Why Odin Drinks – a collection of four novellas, including Creation – is what would happen if Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and Hobbes – of the Calvin and Hobbes fame – decided to tackle Norse mythology. It’s sometimes bittersweet, because Pratchett; absurd, because Adams; and thoughtful, because Calvin and Hobbes. I aimed at writing a book that could be read on various levels – from cackling at peeing dispensers and Odin’s masculine wiles to contemplating various facets of the human condition.

Then reality went and up-ended my proportions somewhat.

Out of the four novellas, Creation is about life; Loki Runes Everything – about control; Fashionteller – about consequences of knowing too much about the future. The last story, The Well of Wise Dom takes a look at greed. What happens when you understand too much, know too much, predict too much, try to control the outcome, change the inevitable? This is what happens, apparently:

“All-Father…”
Odin smirked, the wrinkles around his lips deepening. “I was too stupid to know that I was right. You need to start wars to end them. Sacrifice lives to save them.”
“This isn’t…”
“Frigg will tell me what I need to know,” Odin said coldly. The knuckles of his bony hand, gripping the staff firmly, whitened. “The only way to stop a great army is to have an even greater army. I will know what and when to expect. I will be there.”
[…] “That can’t happen!” Mímir erupted. “When you stir wars, they’ll lead to bigger wars. The more deadly weapons one side uses, the worse the other will invent.”
“Exactly,” Odin nodded. “I’ll lead the leaders. I’ll outwit the wittiest. And I’ll always have the best, the strongest, the hardest.”

Three days after I sent the final version of the book for proofreading, Russia invaded Ukraine.

Blog Tag: Indie Author

 

A blog tag means multiple bloggers writing about the same subject, tagging others to continue. I’m months late (see the previous post for the reason) and never take part in blog tags (because I am always months late even without burnouts). This is a topic dear to me, though: why I decided to go the indie route. I was tagged by Raina Nightingale and the original idea came from Indie Author Blog Tag by R.M Archer.

 

Why do you publish Indie?

I’ve spent 26 months writing what eventually became Storytellers. In the first year or so it didn’t occur to me to even think of any option other than the agent-editor-publisher system; I wasn’t aware that self-publishing progressed past dinosaur erotica, to be honest.

I’ve spent most of 2018 researching the legacy (“traditional”) publishing vs indie, and the more I learned, the less excited I was about it. Like many aspiring authors, I thought that I’d get a marketing team to sell my books while I sat in my cabin in the woods, Creating Art. Unfortunately, this is not how reality works. First, debuts don’t get marketing budgets – the publisher will pick 1-2 books per season to give them that push. Those will be the stellar (or not) debuts you read about in the papers. But the same publisher actually puts out 400 new books (random number, not far from the truth, though) during those few months. Those authors rarely see money other than the advance – and in 2020 “zero advances” became a thing that means exactly what it says.

Yes, the “real” books are the ones that will make it to “Guardian’s Top 20 Most Anticipated Novels of 2022” – which won’t list a single indie. (My bet is that this will change within five years.) But top 20 only fits 20 books and most publications tend to list the same 20 books, just in different order. Those are the books that have enough of marketing budgets for the interns to send review copies around. (Did you know that when an author gets a traditional deal the interns might send review copies?)

I don’t have this sort of validation, but I have control.

How to earn a burnout

So I went and gave myself a burnout, because I don’t learn.

I’ve sent the next Why Odin Drinks story to my editor and decided to tackle the genre that I’ve always found the most difficult: romance. I’ve done a lot of reading first, both of craft books and various sorts of other authors’ romances, noting what I did or didn’t like. I settled on sweet (nothing sexual happens on the page) m/m (it didn’t work, gay men have too many cocks to spend the night cuddling without at least one’s interest getting aroused, so it’s sweet-with-heat now). I started writing the first draft and here’s where I made the same mistake I always make: I stopped watching what I was doing.

I can, as in I am able to, work approximately three hours a day. Unfortunately, tasks that for most people are either unnoticeable or, at worst, irritating chores constitute work for me. Folding the laundry; cleaning the bathroom; cooking something more complicated than an egg; taking a shower; often simply reading. Therapy, obviously. Unfortunately writing is also on that list.

It’s escapism, I love doing it, and it exhausts my energy without me noticing, because I don’t want to notice. If you love your work, it isn’t work anymore, we all know that. So I’ve spent two weeks drafting my romance, navigating the complications and changing the plot as I went, and accidentally completing NaNoWriMo (fifty thousand words – an average romance novel clocks at 60-80 thousand) within two weeks. I wrote every day, of course – “you’re only a real writer if you write every day!” Then, to nobody’s surprise but mine, I crashed. Badly.

Guest post: Norse Influences by Tim Hardie

Today I’m delighted to host Tim Hardie, the author of Hall of Bones (SPFBO7 finalist), Sundered Souls, and soon more – so that he can tell us how Hall of Bones came to be and (gasp) how he did NOT read the myths for inspiration!

The floor blog is yours, Tim.

 

 

When Bjørn Larssen asked if I’d like to contribute to his blog, I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated.  Mr Larssen is a scholar [he really isn’t at all – B] when it comes to all things Viking and Norse and for a while I debated whether I should back out.  My reason for thinking this, which I’ll expand on in this post, is my book isn’t really Viking or Norse at all.

This is, of course, a form of imposter syndrome.  I particularly dislike that whole ‘You’re not a fantasy writer until you’ve read A, B, C … X, Y, Z, the short story collection for D, E, F … and the prequels for blah, blah, blah’.  You get the point.  By all means shout from the rooftops about the books you love.  Authors need the support of their readers and fans.  Seriously, though, if everyone had to read all everyone else’s favourites before they were allowed to put pen to paper the literary world would be dead.  It’s a form of elitism which, taken to extreme, stifles creativity.  If you want to write – just write.

As an aside, I’ve not read Malazan, will never pick up The Wheel of Time and I’ve DNF’d The Way of Kings, the first book of The Stormlight Archive.  Bite me.

So, having gotten that out of the way, Bjørn asked me to write about the Norse influences of my book.  I found myself thinking about this for some time, because I tend to describe my series (The Brotherhood of the Eagle) as Viking-inspired fantasy, with an emphasis on the word fantasy.  You won’t find the Norse gods in my writing because my fantasy world has its own mythology and pantheon of flawed deities. It’s interesting how Norse fantasy has become a ‘thing’ in recent years and is now incredibly popular. 

When I set out to write Hall of Bones, way back in 2011, I wanted to use a Viking culture as it provided something a little different to the standard/generic medieval fantasy setting.  I couldn’t think of a comparable title back then.  By the time the novel was finished at the end of 2015 the genre had caught up and that trend has continued apace.

Guest post: Chaos, Fidelity, and Salt

Today I am delighted to host Lyra Wolf, the author of Truth and Other Lies, The Order of Chaos, and That Good Mischief – books, in which Loki… you tell’em, Lyra!

Chaos, Fidelity, and Salt

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of ‘opposites attract,’ and I think you would be hard pressed to find a more opposite couple than Loki and Sigyn. When I started writing my The Nine Worlds Rising series, I knew from the beginning that their relationship was one I wanted to explore, and I cracked open as many books and articles on Norse lore as I could get my hands on.

What I found was that no one really knows who they are as a couple, what their function is, or why they got paired together at all. To make matters even more tricky, we know even less about Sigyn, other than she is very good at holding bowls over people’s heads for long periods of time.

Fantastic for me. Super awesome.

How was I supposed to write a series about a relationship that seemed to hold a lot of weight and power behind it, when all that remains of the lore is essentially a slice of Swiss cheese?

Thor: NOT God of war (and not a Hemsworth)

This post is inspired by the following Twitter thread:

I respectfully disagree with parts of the thread (not just the original tweet above).

  1. I have never seen Thor being referred to as a war God. Not even by the “white suprëmacists” (or inbreds for short, a side effect of insisting that they’re Racially Pure in a world where hardly anybody is). The only exception seems to be the National Museum of Denmark, which I’ll get to later, settling for a facepalm for the time being.
  2. Calling Thor a God of fertility, while not incorrect, feels misleading to me. (Some argue that laying of the hammer in the bride’s lap makes the hammer a phallic object, but I think it’s…reaching a bit. In the same way you could say a fork is a phallic object.) I feel that “God of farming” or “God of plenty” would be a better choice of words, as Thor connects the sky and the Earth, bringing rain to the crops. If you’re looking for the God of fertility, I’d send you towards Freyr and his giant erection, or Frigg, the Mother.
  3. Thor is the God of the common folk, especially farmers; he brings thunder, lightning, and rain; he’s the God of blacksmiths (insider info); he’s straightforward, violent only when pissed off, and the only war he participates in throughout the entire lore is Ragnarök – if you can call the Norse version of the apocalypse a war. He doesn’t bring death – he brings food to the table. Yes, his own table tends to be the first 😉 but he’s not above killing his own goats (spoiler alert: they get resurrected) to feed others.

 

War Gods

There are at least three heathen Gods and Goddesses associated with war.

Creation is out there!

Creation has now been created and distributed all over the worlds.

The inspiration, again, was Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, because I expected it to be like this. Since he failed to deliver the absurd and slapstick, I had to do it all on my own – there is a saying, “write the book you want to read,” and that’s what I’ve done.

Odin and his brothers, Vili and Vé, are not so great at their jobs – you wouldn’t either, if you suddenly discovered you’re in charge of everything now, but got no training, or at least a leaflet. (Not that it would help, since you also can’t read or write.) They stumble around, creating random cows and forest fires and celery, until… the ultimate weapon comes around. Can you even begin to imagine what it is? Why, yes, of course it’s people. Duh. Even celery is less threatening than THOSE.

Find the book here: www.books2read.com/creation – it’s the first in a series and there will be more. Quite a few more. I am carefully saying “2022,” but unlike Land there might be a second instalment coming before the end of the year… because after 2020 and 2021 we all deserve a laugh, right?

Why Odin Drinks

A new book, sort of, is coming this summer.

Originally called How to Be a God, Why Odin Drinks explains that when the Gods first found themselves in the Nine Worlds, they didn’t know how to God properly. Similarly to Maya in The Ten Worlds, they have to discover what it is they apparently do, and that can only be done by trial and error. Maya’s task is easier.

Why Odin Drinks is going to be a series of novellas, released as e-books as I finish each one. Initially it looked like Thor and Two Ladies would be ready first. But… before Thor could start admiring the female beauty, he had to be created. But not before the cow Audhumla. And many other things, such as celery…

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