Children of the Gods

Children: The title and the warnings

The reaction to the teasers and posts about Children – the first book in my new Ten Worlds series – has been great so far. The readers of Storytellers in particular have made it clear that they can’t wait. It’s the most wonderful compliment I could dream of. It also makes me somewhat uncomfortable, because this book is… different.

I have rewritten Children 28 times, compared to Storytellers’ 21. The plot never really changed. I gradually pushed the book further and further onto the dark side without even realising I was doing it. Only when I saw it through a reader’s eyes again I realised what I’ve done. She read the book twice – a much earlier version a few months ago, then the 28th draft last week. Faced with the (hopefully) final version she first told me that she needed a Scotch and some rest, then quoted a bit and said, “I literally had to get up and walk away from the screen for a while.” Neither of those passages were disgusting. I just worked and worked until I felt I’ve found the right words to describe the characters’ feelings. It seems to have worked. It’s just that those characters are not happy.

Once I was finished with the last rewrite and sent it to my editor, I jumped at Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series and devoured six books in… four days? I’m the one who wrote Children and I still needed an escape from the place that I discovered existed somewhere deep inside me.

The second to last section of this post contains a list of trigger/content warnings, some of which are spoilers.

My Norse Gods: Frigg

The Ten Worlds will be less of a series and more of a universe I am building based on the Norse lore and surviving resources, which I then alter to fit my needs. Today I’d like to introduce you to Frigg, the wife of Odin – if I were in charge of casting the inevitable TV adaptation, I’d choose Tilda Swinton.


Frigg is – to quote Our Troth:

the most motherly […] she is the closest thing to an All-Mother the Northern folk know.

Frigg does not get a lot of space in the Norse lore, sometimes even being seen as an aspect of Freya (I disagree with this). Baldr is the only child of hers that is actually named. The long-haired, peace-loving, gleaming Shining One, dies in rather awkward circumstances. After Ragnarök, when the worlds of the Gods come to an end, some of them survive – and so do a man and a woman – led by Baldr, the long-haired, bearded, peace-loving embodiment of goodness, one who returns from the dead, the son of God (and Goddess). Those stories have been written down by Christians after the Viking era was long over. Some scholars believe that Baldr is a kenning for Jesus, added to the Sagas/myths by Christians to symbolise the fall of the Norse Gods and the rise of… well, Jesus. I agree.

I removed Baldr completely from my version of the pantheon. Frigg’s description of ‘the most motherly’ coming with lack of clarity as to whose mother she is exactly made me wonder: what if the answer was ‘nobody’s’? What if the one who craves motherhood the most, becoming its embodiment, the Goddess mothers and pregnant women call upon, were unable to have children of her own?

Children of the Gods: Jötunheim, jötnar, and Lay of Thrymr

The Norse lore and cosmology are incredibly complex. While we don’t have a holy book of any sort, heathenry is called “the religion of research” for a reason. There is much more to it than the few myths Neil Gaiman retold in his Norse Mythology, and Snorri’s Poetic Edda and Prose Edda. Those writings, both academic and not quite so, ranging between analysis of each line of Völuspa and summaries of Norse shamanist techniques, need to be read through two filters. The first is that there are no written resources from the actual Viking period – it’s taken centuries before the sagas have been written down by Christians. The second – everyone who took it upon themselves to interpret them had an agenda of their own (disclaimer: so do I, only I’m not pretending that I’ve written an academic book). So I read perhaps 1% of what is available, tried to strip it from modern additions, reminded myself that a lot of the Viking-era resources are items the archeologists labelled “religious artifacts” (which translates to “no clue, really”)… then altered what needed to be altered in order to turn that sliver of knowledge into what is hopefully an entertaining, if dark, novel.

When the first round of beta-readers provided me with feedback, they pointed out that they often got lost among all the Gods and worlds and races. I was surprised to hear that despite Chris Hemsworth’s chest there were still people who didn’t even know who Thor was. I have added an index at the beginning of the book, or rather Loki did, where the Gods and the worlds get brief introductions. Finding the right balance between “I don’t understand a thing” and “here’s 50 pages describing the roofs of Heimdall’s hall” has been difficult and I have no clue whether I’ve managed. Here on the blog I’ve been writing a bit more about the Gods – this time I’m going to try and tackle a whole world…



Jötunheim – the home of the jötnar, one of the heathen Nine Worlds, is where the book begins. The popular mistranslation of the word “jötunn” (singular for “jötnar”) as “ice giant” is something I blame Marvel for. In my book it’s also something of a racist slur when used by other peoples. The most accurate/literal translation of “jötnar” would be “the Eaters”.

In my book Jötunheim consists of two parts, the East and West. The Easterners, traders and sailors, are the ones the elves and humans tend to know. That part of Jötunheim is also the coldest, covered in snow and ice through most of the year. The mocking phrase “ice giants” was coined when the elves and human failed to understand the jötnar’s refusal to leave their home land for warmer pastures. Surely, they mocked, that meant that the ice giants loved the cold just as much as the dwarves of Svartálfheim adored spending their lives in their underground forges?

Children of the Gods: Consent

The book is nearly ready. “Nearly” means at least two more months, as I am still finishing the second half while my editor is working on the first, then once we’re both satisfied the text will be sent to the proofreader, and only then I will really be able to announce the book’s completion. It’s been over a year so far, because I started in April 2019. (What a world we used to live in. You could shake hands and stuff.)

It is not a light, relaxing read. I’d describe it as similar to Storytellers, only darker, and with Gods and magic in it. Genre-wise I’d go with literary queer Nordic mythic sometimes-grimdark-but-mostly-not psychological a-bit-coming-of-age-but-really-not-YA sort-of-fantasy, which doesn’t appear to be an Amazon category for some reason. The tagline “it’s hard to be this good in a place this bad” is not an understatement.

There is a scene in the book that I have rewritten at least forty times by now and I’m still not 100% certain that I got it where I want it to be. I’ve had it looked at by more beta-readers than anything else I have ever written. I can see it being triggering enough that it might require a mention in the book’s description, which is why I will tell you what it is now, and continue after the skip – so, TW: it’s a sex (NOT “erotic”!) scene between a grown man and a naive fourteen year old. It’s the opposite of graphic, but very suggestive. Is it consensual? The point of the scene is to show why the boy can’t give consent, as he doesn’t even know what that is and that he is allowed to refuse it.

Click “continue reading” to continue reading…

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