Why Odin Drinks

#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.



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.

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:

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.

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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