I’m participating another month-long writing event by the nonprofit organisation National Novel Writing Month. I began writing the draft of Ragnarok Dreaming during the November NaNoWriMo event. This April, I’m participating in CampNaNoWriMo, an virtual international writing retreat. I aim to write 10,000 words during April. You can follow my updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #CampNaNoWriMo
I am delighted to announce I’ve just finished writing Part 2 of my work-in-progress novel, Ragnarok Dreaming ! Now that the halfway point has been reached, I’m ready to continue the story of Norse Trickster Loki, enjoying the interacting themes between ancient Norse mythologies and Australian legends and folktales. Onwards to Part 3 !
I recently read Wolfskin, the first volume in the duology, The Saga of the Light Isles by Australian author Juliet Marillier.Wolfskin begins in Rogaland among the Norseman of the Viking Age, following a young protagonist Eyvind on his journey to become a wolfskin warrior, one of the most esteemed warrior class in Rogaland. Eyvind befriends Somerled, an outcast younger son of nobility, a highly intelligent but socially awkward boy. Eyvind and Somerled remain friends through to manhood, where both vow by a blood-bond to be as brothers to each other. As young men, Eyvind soon becomes a Wolfskin warrior famed for his prowess in battle while Somerled masters the intricate power games of court life. Sudden events overtake both young men and they begin a dark journey across unmapped oceans to the Light Isles, islands inhabited by the native people, the Folk. Once on the Light Isles, Somerled’s desire for power stretches beyond Eyvind’s control. Witness to Somerled’s ruthlessness, every code Eyvind has believed in is challenged. Although Eyvind is initially saved from desolation by Nessa, royal priestess of the Folk, the two soon form an alliance to save the Folk and the Norseman from Somerled’s destruction.Wolfskin was a satisfying novel, combining dark history and ancient folktales to explore conquest, victory and self-discovery.
Thrilled to provide an update on my current work-in-progress, Ragnarok Dreaming. The first draft for Part 1 is complete and now Part 2 underway! Weaving aspects of indigenous ancient Australian legends with Viking Age Norse myths has definitely been a challenge but with the first 1/4 of Ragnarok Dreaming now on paper, I am more motivated and keen to continue. Onward to the halfway point!
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first novel in an adult Fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas. Although listed as young adult Fantasy like previous novels by Maas, A Court of Thorns & Roses is unsuitable for younger readers and contains appropriate warnings despite the booksellers listing and conflicting publisher imprint from Bloomsbury YA. A Court of Thorns & Roses follows the protagonist Feyre, the youngest daughter of a once-wealthy merchant but now greatly impoverished. To keep her two older sisters and father from starving, Feyre learned to hunt in the forest south of the great wall dividing the mortal realm from Prythian, the faerie realm. While hunting, Feyre kills a large wolf she suspects is a disguised faerie but generations of mortal hatred toward the Fae justify her kill. Soon, Feyre’s fears manifest when Tamlin, High Lord of the Fae Spring Court punishes Feyre for her crime, taking her to Prythian as his vassal, forcing her to forsake her family.Once in Prythian, Feyre discovers the hatred borne by the mortal world is slightly misfounded, for Tamlin is neither cruel nor merciless. In the relative safety of Tamlin’s power in the Spring Court, Feyre soon learns the greatest danger to the mortal realm is also a threat to Prythian. Although bargaining with the Fae is dangerous, Feyre acknowledges her love for Tamlin, she is determined to break the curse binding him and the other Fae High Lords. So Feyre bargains at great cost to herself to save Tamlin and, in doing so, protect the fragile peace between Prythian and the mortal realm. A Court of Thorns and Roses has a familiar fable quality like the classic tales of Beauty and the Beast but the stronger themes from folktales and folklore of the Fae give depth to the world-building behind Prythian.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is a solid foundation to a series that can only expand and explore the complex history hinted at in this first book.
Much of the information about Norse mythology is gleaned from the historical texts called the Eddas. As recounted in the Eddas, two separate hosts of deities initially existed, the Vanir and Aesir . These two hosts waged several unsuccessful wars against each other until they united as a single host, combining their strength against the giants. The union of the Vanir and Aesir was then strengthened through marriage alliances. The deities of the Vanir are introduced in this first post, while a second post discusses the Aesir.
A host of Norse deities almost exclusively associated with the natural elements. These included affinities with the seasons, celestial bodies, and the sedir, a magic associated with women that included foretelling the future. The war between the Aesir and Vanir was settled with an exchange of hostages before several marriages permanently united them.
Njord was a prominent god among the Vanir and the father of sibling deities, Freya and Freyr. Njord was embodiment of the winds, especially those winds close to shore. Associated with fishing, Njord was symbolic of the bounties from the sea and often invoked by fishermen. Njord was also invoked by sailors returning from sea voyages hoping for the safety of the shore. Njord was often depicted as an older man, features marked by exposure to the harsh weather of the sea winds.
Son of the Vanir god Njord and sibling to goddess Freya. As with the deities of the Vanir, Freyr was associated with natural elements and was the personification of summer. Freyr was the embodiment of abundance and wealth, associated with harvests, hunts and forests. Freyr was also associated with some aspects of warfare and was often depicted with a golden sword, radiant like the summer sun. More commonly, Freyr was associated the wealth and abundance of good harvests and the bountiful summer forests.
Daughter of Vanir god, Njord and sister of the god Freyr. Similar to her sibling, Freya was the personification of Spring. Freya was associated with lovers and with the association of spring, she embodied fertility. Commonly, Freya was depicted as a beautiful maiden and often wreathed in garlands of flowers. There was a darker aspect to Freya that associated her with battle and death. Freya is the leader of the Valkyries, the female warrior spirits who take the souls of honoured warriors slain in battle. Freya was also the archetypal völva, a practitioner of the ancient Norse magic, the sedir, which had many shamanistic qualities and was both revered and feared for the gift it offered of foresight. Freya first taught the sedir to the Norse gods and, by extension, to the mortal realm of Midgard.
Much of the information about Norse mythology is gleaned from the historical texts called the Eddas. As recounted in the Eddas, two separate hosts of deities initially existed, the Vanir and Aesir. These two hosts waged several unsuccessful wars against each other until they united as a single host, combining their strength against the giants. The union of the Vanir and Aesir was then strengthened through marriage alliances. The deities of the Vanir were introduced in an earlier post, while this post discusses the Aesir.
A host of Norse deities that are very different to the Vanir and, considered by many scholars, to be the more recent in Norse mythology. The primary deities in the Aesir are almost exclusively male and associated with warfare and aspects of community and family life. Lesser gods in the Aesir are associated with craftsmanship but all have specific personality traits that would be invoked during prayer.
The principal leader of the Aesir. Odin was also the eldest of the gods and the father of many lesser deities. Odin was the embodiment of a leader protecting his dependants through wisdom and seeking knowledge. Odin was also often invoked by leaders before battle as Odin was associated with victory in battle. Odin’s quest for further wisdom to improve his leadership and maintain it, led to many sacrifices including the offering of his eye to gain the foresight he required. Odin was the real leader of the Norse deities and was an exemplar of how rulers should sacrifice themselves for the furthering of their dependant community and family.
Goddess among the Aesir and wife to Odin, who in Odin’s absence from Asgard, became the leader of the Aesir. As the only principal goddess among the Aesir, there is curiously little written specifically about Frigg in the Eddas. Frigg was the embodiment of a virtuous Nordic wife, associated with the household and invoked by married couples for her embodiment of love and marriage. Frigg was commonly depicted as wife, mother and leader but her elaborate clothing revealed a darker aspect to her. Frigg’s powers were like those of Odin, associated with the air. Frigg was responsible for the discovery of flax and her spinning distaff was capable of enacting her fickle mood where she would spin the clouds into her clothing, all as changeable as the weather.
A god among the Aesir, the embodiment of thunderstorms and the personification of physical strength. Thor was the son of Odin and often associated with warfare and, like Odin and the god Tyr, these three gods formed a triad of gods often invoked during battle. Where Odin’s powers in warfare are related to qualities aspired for strong leadership, Tyr was invoked for strategic planning and swordsmanship. Thor, on the other hand, was admired for the brute strength and fury he possessed, a battle-rage and lust that could sustain armies and inspire victory. Thor is rarely described or praised for intelligence but his powerful strength and warhammer were often used to save the Aesir and Vanir from attacks by the giants, their common enemy.
I recently finished reading The Girl in the Tower, the second novel in the Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden. After the conclusion of The Bear and the Nightingale, Vasilisa’s life has changed forever. Unable to return to the simple life in her father’s holding, Vasilisa decides to travel. Although Medvedev, the Bear is bound again, Morozko, the Winter King, warns Vasilisa not to leave the safety of the northern forests. Determined as always, Vasilisa takes her stallion Solovey, and travels through the vast Russian forests. Vasilisa happens upon a bandit campsite and rescues several kidnapped girls. When Vasilisa seeks refuge for herself and the kidnapped girls, she finds the nearby monastery and her brother, Sasha, the warrior-monk. Since travelling on the road alone, Vasilisa has disguised herself as a boy. Relieved that Vasilisa is not dead as he had feared, Sasha agrees for Vasilisa to continue her disguise. For Sasha does not travel alone, but in the company of the Grand Prince of Moscow. Conscious of Vasilisa’s safety and reputation, Sasha takes Vasilisa directly to their sister Olga’s household in Moscow where Olga is now the Princess of Septecov. Vasilisa is reunited with Olga but delight quickly becomes restlessness as the claustrophobic lifestyle led by the noble women of Moscow begins to strangle her. For the noble, virtuous women of Moscow, their lives are spent within the seclusion of their households and tower rooms. The Girl in the Tower continues the story of Vasilisa and Morozko. Behind the main events, the scene in Moscow is one of political intrigue and the very real dangers of the Grand Prince’s court at Moscow. When Vasilisa becomes embroiled in a danger far more explosive than hiding her true identity from the Grand Prince, Vasilisa must risk her own life to save her family. Against the fading powers of the pagan magic, Vasilisa discovers a dark, sorcerous magic that holds a generational family truth.
The Girl in the Tower was just as enchanting as The Bear and the Nightingale, drawing on the wonderful Russian folktales and imbued with the same fable-like qualities. Here you can read my review of The Bear and the Nightingale
The last 6 months have been a whirlwind of activity and excitement for me. This inaugural but semi-regular post serves as part-reflection on recent events and part-update on current, unfolding projects. Curious to know more?
Storytelling & More: The launch of this website coincided with the publication of my debut Fantasy novel Bone Arrow and my regular posts here on this blog include summaries of Amerindian, indigenous Australian and Norse folktales, legends and myths I’ve found interesting during my research. I also post regular reviews of recently read novels I’ve found stimulating.
Bone Arrow Released: In August 2018, I released the ebook version of my debut Fantasy novel, Bone Arrowwhich was inspired by Amerindian folktales and legends. On October 1, the first paperback copies of Bone Arrow were available in major online bookstores from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepository in the UK and Booktopia in Australia. The end of December 2018, marks the 3 months anniversary of the release of Bone Arrow. To coincide with this, I have written a series of 3 short posts sharing my reflections on the journey and my motivations behind Bone Arrow.
Work-in-Progress: In early 2018, I started researching a new project based on Norse myths. Under the working title, Ragnarok Dreaming,is a contemporary Fantasy retelling aspects of Norse mythology and incorporating the landscape and legends of ancient Australia. At the end of 2018, Ragnarok Dreaming was nearly 1/4 complete.
Museum Research Visit: In June 2018, I took a brief research trip to Melbourne Museum in Australia to see an amazing exhibition on-loan from the Swedish History Museum of Viking Age artefacts. The exhibition included a reconstructed Viking Age ship, silver and gold jewellery and ornaments, swords from Viking burials, reconstructed swords using ancient Nordic forging technologies, trade items including measurement scales for transactions, Norse currencies and slave collars.
NaNoWriMo 2018: In October 2018, I combined starting the first draft for Ragnarok Dreamingwith National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) using the extra motivation to put months of planning and research into action. Aside from increasing support and awareness of creative writing, NaNoWriMo was perfect to help me overcome any uncertainties in beginning a new project.
The New Year: In 2019, I’m planning a short research pilgrimage to Sweden, Norway and Iceland to experience first-hand, the landscape and history where the Norse myths and Viking Age culture were born. I also hope to complete the first draft of my current work-in-progress, Ragnarok Dreaming.
Heart’s Blood is a Historical Fantasy by Australian-New Zealand author Juliet Marillier, following the young female scribe Caitrin, who after fleeing her own dark past, takes a commission at the derelict ruins of Whistling Tor in the household of the mysterious Chieftain, Anluan.Caitrin soon earns Anluan’s trust and that of his odd household retainers, a mixture of loyal but bound ghosts. While Caitrin translates records from Anluan’s ancestors, she learns the history behind the dark stories of Whistling Tor and the challenges facing the physically weakened Anluan. Yet the darkest but most important horrific secret resides in one of Anluan’s ancestors and past Chieftan of Whistling Tor, a sorcerer who bound the Host – the capricious army ghosts to Whistling Tor and to the will of its Chieftain. Despite the Host being an unbeatable army, the Chieftain must always reside at Whistling Tor to control the Host. For past attempts to lead the Host to battle away from the control of Whistling Tor led to calamitous and fatal consequences for the Chieftain. While committed to her translations for Anluan, Caitrin is soon determined and consumed by the mystery and plight of the Host. Caitrin promises to release the Host by finding a counter-spell to the one Anluan’s ancestor had used to bind the restless ghosts into an army. The promise Caitrin makes to the Host embodies her own love for Anluan. Parallel to the plight of the Host is the personal battles within Caitrin and Anluan to heal the injuries of their own past and confront the fears that have always constrained them.
Heart’s Blood is a beautiful story, emphasising hope and courage and creating genuine characters. Infused in every facet of the story, the half-seen eldritch world continues as a signature theme for Juliet Marillier.