Today marks the official kickoff of the Children Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and throughout the week we’ve got a great lineup helping us feature Bjørn Larssen’s newly published Norse-inspired Fantasy novel, Children! While I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the final polished version of this book, I was lucky enough get my grubby hands on an earlier one, and I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to hear what our hosts have to say in the coming days, so be sure to keep an eye out for some incredible content.
Bjørn was kind enough to stop by to chat about what led to the creation of his new book, his writing process, and what lies ahead for him, so keep scrolling for the tour schedule, more info about the book, and the interview!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Children. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews and more.
OCTOBER 4TH–THE WELCOMING
Whispers & Wonder
The Sword Smith
Out of This World SFF Reviews
Kats Reading Room
The Coycaterpillar Reads
The Writer’s Alley
Beneath A Thousand Skies
Woven From Words
Bookends & Bagends
The Bookwyrm’s Guide to the Galaxy
Betwixt The Sheets
Cover to Cover
OCTOBER 10TH–THE ENCORE
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
About The Book
Magni never wanted to be like his father, a murderous, absent, cheating alcoholic: Thor – the feared and beloved God of thunder. When Thor destroys everything and everyone his son knows and loves, Magni vows to stop the violence. His dream is to bring peace and prosperity to the Nine Worlds, then settle down with the man he loves. But is it possible to remain good in a place this bad? How do you escape cruelty in a universe built on it, or the shadow of your father when everyone calls you by his name?
Maya knows she’s a failure and a disappointment to her foster-parents. How could a child raised by Freya and Freyr – Goddess of love and God of sex – have no interest in the greatest of pleasures? Obviously, it couldn’t be the torture they subjected her to, or treating her as a tool that might someday be useful. Maya, her rage at their games more powerful than she knows, wants freedom to pursue her own destiny. But how do you forge your own life away from your God-parents when you’re nothing more than human?
A retelling of the Norse myths unlike any other, Children will answer all the questions you never knew you had about the heathen Nine Worlds… before leading you into the Tenth.
SERIES: The Ten Worlds (#1)
PUBLISHED: October 3, 2020 (Self-published)
GENRE: Fantasy, Norse
Meet The Author
Bjørn Larssen is a Norse heathen made in Poland, but mostly located in a Dutch suburb, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. Born in 1977, he self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one, following this achievement several decades later with his first book containing multiple sentences and winning awards he didn’t design himself. His writing is described as ‘dark’ and ‘literary’, but he remains incapable of taking anything seriously for more than 60 seconds.
Bjørn has a degree in mathematics and has worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time). His hobbies include sitting by open fires, dressing like an extra from Vikings, installing operating systems, and dreaming about living in a log cabin in the north of Iceland. He owns one (1) husband and is owned by one (1) neighbourhood cat.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Bjørn. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Probably not a Norse deity or child of one. Probably.
What’s a day of writing like in the shoes of Bjørn? Do you have any quirks, routines, or rituals?
I have absolutely no routine, as much as I wish I had one. I don’t have a word count for the day either, because I can tell when I’m writing gibberish and all I achieve by forcing myself to write is feeding my impostor syndrome. Sometimes I light a candle, assuming I remember that I decided to have this ritual.
I spend a lot of time pacing around the room and talking to myself out loud when I’m trying to get a character’s voice right. Sometimes I end up with their entire life story. There is a character called Herjólf in the book. I was pacing around, muttering to myself, like you do. Suddenly I sat down, started recording, and dictated his entire life story starting with his birth. I don’t think there is much I can do with it, but now I understand exactly why he became the person he is. Out of the sixteen months I’ve spent writing Children I must have spent at least six pacing around and mumbling to myself.
Give us an idea of how Children came to fruition.
The Norse myths are very much action based. There is no setting, timeline, coherence – suddenly things are happening, someone wants something for no discernible reason, another thing just disappears… The first one that made me pause and think was the story of Thor losing his hammer to a jötunn king, who demands to marry Freya in return. How would the king get his hands on the hammer, I wondered, did he have help? How does Loki – who is the intermediary – know to go straight to the king when there are nine worlds to be searched? When Freya refuses to marry the king, why and how is dressing Thor in a wedding gown and sending him to become the king’s bride the most logical solution?
Thor is known for killing the jötnar, yet one of them appears in front of the Gods with an offer – he will build a wall surrounding all of Ásgard, the Gods’ world. Why would he do that and why would the Gods agree? If they perceive the jötnar as the biggest danger, why was this one let in rather than beheaded on sight? How would surrounding a whole world with a wall work? Where did that jötunn smith find a magical horse? Finally, why does he also want Freya to be his reward?
As I was trying to put the myths together, it occurred to me to write the book from the point of view of Thor’s son, Magni. There are countless myths and stories featuring Thor. Magni only gets to appear in the lore once, when he saves Thor from a troll named Hrungnir. How does it feel to be “the son of” when your father is the best known and most loved of the Gods – and you despise him?
Then Maya moved in… more about her in a moment.
Can you share with us something about Children that isn’t in any of the individual book blurbs?
I play fast and loose with the mythology. The versions you’re going to read aren’t exactly canonical. At the same time, I am a Norse heathen myself, so writing this book was an interesting exercise, like writing fan-fic about my faith. I’m not sure whether certain Gods are going to ever forgive me for how I presented them…
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for Children?
After I spent some time googling heroin effects, heroin withdrawals, and heroin overdose symptoms, my Google ads became more interesting than usual and that’s how I found out there was a clothing brand called “Rehab”. Since then I use the incognito mode for research…
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
This is a tricky one to answer. I thought I was writing a re-telling of the myths, just putting them together. The book was supposed to be quite light, actually. Then Maya, a character I created for a book I shelved, appeared and not only demanded to be in the book, but to have half of it for herself. As far as I know there is no Norse Goddess named Maya, so I had to figure out a way to weave her into the plot. She was assertive enough to tell me where she wanted to appear and what she’d be doing, and still it took 28 full rewrites before I found out why she was claustrophobic since the very first draft of the first chapter.
So I guess that the plot was supposed to come first, then the characters decided to fiddle with everything until they were satisfied. I was then permitted to write it all down.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
The part I called “the outlaw section” features a character called Ludo. This section wasn’t going well. Something was missing from it. At that point Ludo was a stick figure rather than a character, added just so that I’d have an “extra outlaw”. One day I saw a photo of Joel Kinneman in The Killing and suddenly Ludo came to life, ready to create mayhem. I knew what he talked like, how he moved, behaved, what he wanted. With Ludo’s help, the outlaw section pretty much wrote itself. He’s a fucking delight (in his own words). Coincidentally, I have never watched The Killing – I only saw this one photo.
What do you think makes a good story?
Conflicts. Who is this character? What do they want? Why can’t they have it? Why should I care? Add characters I’ll get invested in – this doesn’t necessarily mean “likeable” – and I’m hooked. Once I start yelling at my e-reader, a five-star review is coming.
Is there one particular book you hold dearest to your heart?
The Hours by Michael Cunningham. All the characters are multi-dimensional, I care for them, I sympathise with them, feel their pain, delight in their happiness. Not just each sentence, but every word is essential, there is nothing that could be removed. I re-read The Hours at least once a year and it still surprises me. I want to be Michael Cunningham when I grow up.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
When reading articles about what you absolutely must do to sell books, check whether the article’s author’s own books are selling well before following the advice.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea. I stopped drinking coffee altogether. *hands over the writer card*
Winter or Summer?
It used to be summer, but Iceland broke me. Cold, sunny, snowy days, please.
Physical books or Ebooks?
Ebooks. My Kobo e-reader is my favourite thing ever. I can hide 300 books in it and my husband won’t know how big my TBR pile really is.
Mountains or Oceans?
Hey, that’s unfair! I pick waterfalls.
Beer or Wine?
*looks at phantom quarantine pregnancy* uh, non-fat sugar-free water for me…
Books or Movies?
Cowboys or Aliens?
Cowboys, but for wrong reasons.
Pie or Cake?
Pie, please. I don’t really like sweets. (Please don’t ban me.)
Rural or Urban?
I used to be a city boy, now I wish I could have a farm with a forge far away from everyone and everything. The fact that Gunnar in Storytellers has a farm with a forge far away from everyone and everything is, obviously, purely coincidental.
Work hard or Play hard?
I’m too old to play hard. My idea of a decadent Saturday night is playing canasta with Husby while there are TWO candles lit at the same time. Ten years ago my answer would have been different, but also for some reason I haven’t written anything ten years ago.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Bjørn. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
I’m always working on fifty things at once, but right now the second book in The Ten Worlds series, Land, is my priority – the early reviewers of Children already want to know what happens next. And so do I.
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Children tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://www.storytellersontour.online/2020/08/31/tour-schedule-children-by-bjorn-larssen/) to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to say!