I am currently working on a series called The Ten Worlds, which is based on the Norse cosmology and mythology. The first two books will be a duology Children and Land. In the “My Norse Gods” series I am going to introduce the Gods the way they are described in The Ten Worlds which might or might not be in agreement with either the academic resources or what other heathens might believe.

If I were in charge of casting the upcoming Netflix series based on my books, Loki would be played by Jared Leto.

 

Loki

The Marvel universe, which I will unfortunately have to mention quite often, created the Father (Odin), Son (Thor), and the Devil (Loki) to explain the Norse Gods to those who either follow, or at least have basic understanding of Christianity. None of those three job descriptions are correct, with the exception of Thor being Odin’s son. The dichotomy of the Good All-Father God vs Evil Trickster Devil is false, if only because the Norse faith doesn’t contain universal concepts of “good” and “evil”. (As an aside, we don’t have a concept of “sin” either.) When the Vikings fought the Christians, the Christians told themselves they were the side of the good. Vikings were the side that wanted to win. Odin is not the “God”, more about which later, and Loki is not “Devil”. Loki is chaos, curiosity, and fun – as he defines it. He takes things away, gets caught, brings back something better – if you can force him or convince him otherwise.

It is so difficult to explain Loki that entire books have been devoted to him – such as The Problem of Loki by Jan de Vries, which gave me a headache. Some Ásatrúar (the organised heathen religions) refuse to have anything to do with Loki, even forbidding any form of worship of Loki during their gatherings. Yet Loki is also Thor’s best friend and it is thanks to Loki that Thor received his hammer Mjölnir. Would you really dare to tell Thor “you’re welcome here, but only if your buddy stays away”. Is it better to celebrate the bringer of chaos, potentially attracting his attention, or to push him away, potentially attracting his attention?

Loki’s catchphrase is “what’s the worst that can happen?”.

 

Family tree

While the resources name Loki’s parents, I found it more interesting to just have him appear from nowhere, unbound by any loyalties, family relations, on nobody’s side but his own. He marries a poor woman named Angrboða, who bears him three children – Hel, who is the loveliest Goddess of death you’ll ever meet, especially if you manage to ignore the fact that half of her is decomposed; the Serpent of Midgard, who is, well, a serpent encircling Midgard; and Fenrir, the wolf that never stops growing, becoming a source of great concern for the Gods. Another of his children is Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged stallion, and according to the myths, Loki is the horse’s mother. Later on Loki marries Sigyn, who remains faithful to him until the Universe ends. With Sigyn Loki has more children, ones that are neither serpents, horses, nor decomposed. They are not mentioned in Children and/or Land, so I’m going to talk about them some other time.

Quite a few Gods are (shape-)shifters, but Loki is the most talented of all of them, as he is the only one who can change gender in addition to everything else, limited only by his imagination. (For once, when he’s bragging about something he’s telling the truth.) During Loki’s brief career as a bridesmaid she is not a man in a dress – Loki is a woman at that point. Like all shifters, though, Loki has his favourite form, pictured above – Jared Leto at his most cult-leader-like. When appearing in this form, Loki prefers the pronouns he/him.

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In the last days of December I sent the current revision of Children, my upcoming second book, to beta readers and my editor. I’ve spent nine months doing little else but working on the book, got myself on the verge of burnout, and I’m honestly grateful for the break. Still, I think it’s time to start talking about it a bit more.

When I was trying to figure out what genre I was writing – I went from “literary Nordic mythic fantasy” through “this is really quite grim and dark” to “oh… there is a genre called ‘grimdark’, I wonder what that is?” – it occurred to me that there was something unusual about Children. There are many books that, on the surface, seem not quite unlike this one, there are the Marvel comics and movies, but I don’t know how many actual religious people would purposefully alter their God(s) to write more compelling fiction. All I could think of was Good Omens, which would be a good fit if Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman actually were/are Christians. From what 0.854 minutes of Googling told me, Gaiman is a lapsed Scientologist and Sir Terry was a devout atheist.

I didn’t need a search engine to realise I was writing fanfic about my own Gods. I believe that in most religions this would be seen as…awkward.

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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.

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