Storytellers was officially released on March 28, 2019. Today it’s exactly one month old. Once I’m on my tenth novel I probably won’t even notice this sort of thing, too busy signing contracts with Hollywood and buying mansions. But this is my first book-baby and every morning I wake up excited to see what’s going to happen.

Here’s what happened so far…

 

Writing

I’ve rewritten the entire book twenty-one times.

In September 2017 I believed the book to be finished and ready to go. I asked an editor to go through the text and correct my grammar and spelling – I am painfully aware that I’m not a native speaker. She returned the book just in time for my 40th birthday (poetic, right?), mentioning in passing that perhaps a few things could do with another look, not too much, just a lick of polish. The most shocking thing she said to me was that she felt that the female characters seemed slightly flat.

Those who know me are aware that I’m an avid feminist. Almost all of my favourite books feature amazing female characters so full of life that I feel like we are BFFs. I could have dismissed Megan’s remarks, and almost have, but two of them overlapped with my beta readers’ remarks. When one person doesn’t like a detail, it’s generally not a problem. Two, though – one of them a professional – should make you think. So I did a bit of rewriting here and there. Eighteen times. Seventeen months. The total: twenty-one times over twenty-six months. Lads and ladies, here’s my book-baby, a result of an extremely overdrawn pregnancy.

 

 

The #PubDay

Also known as the day when you can actually purchase the book.

GOOD GODS. First of all, I didn’t realise that Amazon paperbacks did not feature the preorder option, accidentally publishing an unfinished version on February 27, giving scammers a chance to “offer” the book that didn’t exist yet, meaning you could “buy” it from the scammer – but not from me. The hardcovers came with two dates: publication date and on-sale date, which technically is a preorder, but in practice the book showed up on Amazon on March 28th, declaring that it was released on March 7th. At least the e-book did come out on the day it was supposed to be released. There were, excitingly, some preorders. The super deluxe boxed sets sold out within less than three days since I announced them, way before I even put one paragraph online.

This was the simple bit.

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It turns out that it is possible to be so busy launching your novel to forget to tell people you’re launching your novel… so… guess what!

 

Storytellers is out now.

Available formats: MOBI/Kindle Unlimited (Amazon exclusive until July 1), paperback, hardcover, and large print/dyslexia-friendly paperback. The regular paperback is also available on non-Amazon stores – here’s the full list of links (including country-specific links).

The super deluxe boxed set sold out before I even really announced it, which was a RIDE, let me tell ye. Now the ride is being very slow in the hands of DHL, but that’s another story… The deluxe and signed editions are available here on Etsy. So are the postcards, bookmarks, and some more cute swag will be added in the coming days. I’ve got posters as well, but sending them would cost 5x more than the poster itself, unless I fold it and post as letter – what do you think – would you want to buy a folded poster instead of a rolled one?

The audiobook is coming soon – this is as precise as I can be right now. I’ve got the voice training, I’m also training switching between accents (it’s going to be a total mish-mash), I’ve got studio equipment and software. The one thing I don’t have is silence – this is also why the video newsletter had to be postponed, as I’ve spent 12 hours today listening to walls being torn down next door. This is also a convenient excuse the reason why the soundtrack is “coming soon”.

Speaking of the audiobook, subscribe to my newsletter now to hear me speak a bit of Icelandic and help you pronounce the characters’ names – either tomorrow or on Saturday, depending on the amount of walls that still need to be torn down next door. As always, if you miss the newsletter the video part will become available two weeks later on my YouTube channel, so you can subscribe to that one as well (but remember the newsletter subscription comes with a free Vikings: from history to History e-book, and I don’t mind you unsubbing right after downloading the book, it’s all good).

I’ve created a special website for Storytellers, featuring a lengthy excerpt from the first chapter, behind the scenes information on the history of prohibition in Iceland, the meaning of the phrase “þetta reddast”, and more. The second, full trailer is coming next week. I’ll be updating the website further with more behind the scenes articles and my chosen cast for the inevitable Hollywood adaptation!

 

Reviews (excerpts and links)

Alright kids, this one is FOR SURE, a keeper. Bjørn has a knack for writing witty, enjoyable characters. Bjørn seamlessly brings the two [stories] together in a fast paced, action packed ending that definitely left me reading way past my bedtime (a bookworms famous last words amiright?) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Read Explore Repeat blog

Storytellers is historical fiction written in the style of an Icelandic saga. […] When the story reached its denouement it was worth the wait. – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Rosie Amber

The book was reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, in both theme and mood. Both books deal with the unreliability of memory; both are largely melancholy books. And perhaps there is allegory in them both, too. Storytellers is a book to be read when there is time for contemplation, maybe of an evening with a glass of wine. It isn’t always the easiest read, but it’s not a book I’m going to forget easily, either. – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Marian L. Thorpe (author of the Empire’s Legacy series)

What an amazing book! […] I pride myself on figuring out mysteries and plots as I go, and I have to say, I was not only on the edge of my seat, I never saw the ending coming! – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Penni Ellington (Goodreads)

This book blew me away. It’s a terrific story within a story, both of wich have rich characters and are very compelling. There are characters you hate to love, and love to hate. There’s action and adventure. The twists and turns made this book one I couldn’t put down. I can’t wait to see what comes next from Bjorn Larssen because I need MORE! – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Kelly (Goodreads)

 

One more thing…

I am changing the description of this website – very slightly. I’m replacing the word “writer” with “author”.

Many people have their own definition of what those two words mean. Way too many wonderful people I know – creative, interesting, curious, exciting people whose words enlighten my days – don’t feel like they’re good/accomplished/etc. enough to call themselves “writers”. The way I see it, a writer is a person who writes. I didn’t say professional writer, right? A ghostwriter is a writer. A person who writes fanfics is a writer. A person who says “ugh, this book is awful, I could write a better one in my sleep, I just didn’t get to it yet” – not a writer. I was that person for 39 years, so I have a lot of experience with being a not-writer…

An author – again, to me personally – is someone who authored something. You could say I was an author the day I received the final draft from my wonderful editor, Megan Dickman. Or when I got the text back from the equally fantastic proofreader, Abbie of Pilcrow Proofreading. Or when I got the first proof copy in my sweaty hands. But I’m making that little change today. And celebrating the #PubDay with tea and delightful Indian food, together with Husby, who’s been supporting me from day one (January 1, 2017), holding my hand, patiently reading multiple drafts, cheering me on, not getting too angry when he’d say “the house is on fire” and I’d answer “yeah right, sorry, got to finish this scene”.

Onwards, Buttercup, there’s more bookery to write!

My first forge welding class with Casper Prager.

 

Part 1Part 2Part 3

Karl stopped travelling. He also stopped paying much attention to Gunnar, focusing entirely on Sóley. Gunnar was now free to work at the forge whenever he felt like it, unnoticed, alone, happy. He found a machine grinder operated with a pedal and figured out how to sharpen his knife with it – his third knife, and the first that was almost completely straight. Once he was done, he threw it into a corner, ready to start on the next one, determined to get it right, before realising he hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast many hours ago.

They took turns on the “bed” downstairs. Gunnar couldn’t decide which one he preferred. He felt oddly uncomfortable when sleeping upstairs with his mother, filled with a dreadful feeling that even her snoring expressed anger about something he had either done or not done. The night after, though, he would change his mind and decide that it was nothing compared to the physical discomfort of the new “bed”, which was a mostly flat pile of turf covered with a sheepskin. Also, when he stayed downstairs, his parents fought incessantly, quieter than before, but loud enough to be heard through the wooden ceiling.

“Your nerves,” Karl would say again and again. “Have you been drinking the herbs?”

“Like I’m a fool! I know they are poison! You want to get rid of me, so nothing stops you from seeing the others!”

“There are no others. How am I supposed to prove it to you? I don’t go anywhere anymore, except when I have to go to town…”

“Do you think I don’t know what happens in town?!”

“Nothing, I buy food, other necessities, then come back home as fast as I can.” Karl’s voice was becoming lower and quieter. Gunnar knew what that meant and shivered in his cold bed.

“I don’t believe you! She, they buy it all, then give it to you so you have an excuse!”

“Sóley, you’re being unreasonable. Please try the herbs. Your nerves…”

Gunnar finally dozed off, only to wake up with pain in his neck, his whole body stiff, cold. His left hand, which he slept on, was asleep and the pricks of pain started a moment later when blood found its way back. It was May, but the walls would only become warm for about two days at the end of August. They seemed to always be covered with a thin layer of frozen mold. Tonight he would be sleeping upstairs, where the wooden walls, cold as they were, didn’t feel so… slippery. But that meant he would be sleeping next to his mother…

*

In the morning, Gunnar grabbed a piece of bread and a mug of coffee, then retreated into the forge as quickly as possible. It was becoming his favourite place on Earth. Here nobody ever interrup–

Someone knocked on the front door and the boy nearly jumped out of his skin.

“Is Karl there? I need that axe.”

“Ah, it’s… it’s almost ready, I…”

“He didn’t do it,” said the man flatly. “Tell him I’ll be back tomorrow and it better be ready.” He departed, shaking his head, and Gunnar stared behind him before returning inside and picking up the axe. Its blade was cracked, and when Gunnar squinted he could see the crack was deeper than it looked, becoming thin as a hairline, but still present. Maybe it would be possible to simply remove some of the metal using the grinder…? It would be a bit smaller, but perfectly good…

A few minutes later he had to interrupt his parents.

“Good God!” exclaimed Karl. “You could have lost an eye! What have you done?”

“I was just trying– this man came, and he was asking–“

“Of course he was,” interrupted Sóley. “Your father makes a lot of promises, but never delivers on them. Come here. You’ve got a piece of metal in your forehead, how did you even do that, fool?”

“You can’t sharpen a broken axe,” said Karl, as Sóley huffed, puffed, and put iodine on the wound. Gunnar tried and failed not to hiss in pain. “The edge is made of hardened steel. It’s much harder, hence the name, but it breaks. As you can see.”

“It’s a miracle he can see at all! A bit lower, and he would never see anything again. Because someone doesn’t even–”

“We’re going to do it now,” announced Karl. “Sóley… please try the herbs, at least one time, just to see whether they help a bit. Gunnar and I are going to fix that axe right now.”

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