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Guest Blog by Alis Franklin - What would the Norse Gods think of all the modern stories about them? - November 4, 2014


Please welcome Alis Franklin to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Liesmith was published on October 7th by Hydra.



Guest Blog by Alis Franklin - What would the Norse Gods think of all the modern stories about them? - November 4, 2014




What would the Norse Gods think of all the modern stories about them?

Here’s a weird thing to think about: in the age of the Vikings, between around 800 CE and 1000 CE, the population of the whole of Europe is estimated to’ve been in the vicinity of 30 to 50 million people. In comparison, a little over a thousand years later, in 2012 CE, an estimated 76 million people in the US took themselves off to a cinema to watch the old Viking gods Thor and Loki battle it out in Marvel’s The Avengers.

Or, to put it another way: today, something like twice the entire population of medieval Eu-rope knows who “Thor” and “Loki” are, in one country alone.

Another data point: in 1999, a Japanese woman by the name of Sakura Kinoshita wrote a manga about Loki. Known in English as Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, it was later made into a TV show. Japan, for the record, is about five thousand miles (by plane), give or take, away from the ancestral home of the Vikings. There’s no evidence the Vikings ever got so far east during their era.

One more: in 1983, approximately one thousand years and ten thousand miles away from Viking lands, yours truly was born in an Australian hospital named after the Norse god of death and wisdom, Odin.

Thirty years later, and these are the things I think of whenever I hear anyone wax poetic on the notion that the old gods are dying. Sure, some of the details of their stories have… evolved over the centuries. But, changes or no, these stories are now told and retold in more ways and more places than ever before in history; in movies, TV shows, novels, video games, and song.

Sometimes, I wonder what Thor and Odin and Loki would think of what we’ve made of them.

Or maybe that’s the wrong question. Because the thing about the Old Norse religion is that it never actually died out. The Vikings officially converted to Christianity over a period of a few hundred years around 1000 CE, but the gods hung around. In modern days, their worship has been revived and has practitioners both in Scandinavia and elsewhere, including places like the United States and Australia. It’s probably a bit of stretch to say there are numerically more people now who believe in Thor and Odin than did a thousand years ago (Loki, on the other hand, who wasn’t actively worshipped in the Viking age now most certainly is), but they definitely do exist and that means that writing about the Norse deities is “borrowing” entities considered sacred in a living religious tradition.

This is something I thought of when I was doing my own modern adaptation as part of Liesmith. The Odin and (in particular) the Loki who appear in that story are very definitely fictionalized versions of their mythological selves. They’re both based on the Old Norse sa-gas, sure. Based on, but… different. And if maybe Odin is a little darker, and if maybe Loki is a little lighter… well. Maybe there are some spoilers there for the book I won’t get into. But, needless to say, I took some artistic license at points, if for no other reason than the sagas saying nothing about giant anthropomorphized archaeopteryxes.

But fictionalized mythology—that is, using sacred figures in secular entertainment—isn’t exactly new. Milton did it with Satan in Paradise Lost. On the other end of the scale, Morgan Freeman played God, literally, in Bruce Almighty, following on from Alanis Morissette who’d done the same in Dogma. Nor is this a trend constrained to Western literary traditions: about 75 years before Milton, in 16th century China, Wú Chéng'ēn wrote the novel Xī Yóu Jì—better known as Journey to the West in, er, the West—featuring versions of Buddhist re-ligious figures like the bodhisattva of compassion, Guanyin.

For the record, Xī Yóu Jì is one of my favorite tales, mostly care of my childhood exposure to it via a Japanese adaptation that used to run, dubbed (badly), on Australian TV under the name of Monkey. I’m hardly alone in my fangirling, and the story remains hugely popular in Asia; walk into just about any shop selling Chinese-language films and I’d bet money there’s at least one poster up depicting a recent adaptation.

There’s just something about retelling myths that humans seem incapable of letting go of.

So this is what we did with the old gods, Vikings and demons and buddhas alike; we turned them into pop culture sensations. And maybe the worship looks a little different—where once people sacrificed animals in Thor’s name, now they sacrifice time and the price of a movie ticket—but… maybe that doesn’t matter.

The old gods live on, bigger and brighter and more loved than ever.





Liesmith
Wyrd 1
Hydra, October 7, 2014
eBook, 308 pages

Guest Blog by Alis Franklin - What would the Norse Gods think of all the modern stories about them? - November 4, 2014
At the intersection of the magical and the mundane, Alis Franklin’s thrilling debut novel reimagines mythology for a modern world—where gods and mortals walk side by side.

Working in low-level IT support for a company that’s the toast of the tech world, Sigmund Sussman finds himself content, if not particularly inspired. As compensation for telling people to restart their computer a few times a day, Sigmund earns enough disposable income to gorge on comics and has plenty of free time to devote to his gaming group.

Then in walks the new guy with the unpronounceable last name who immediately becomes IT’s most popular team member. Lain Laufeyjarson is charming and good-looking, with a story for any occasion; shy, awkward Sigmund is none of those things, which is why he finds it odd when Lain flirts with him. But Lain seems cool, even if he’s a little different—though Sigmund never suspects just how different he could be. After all, who would expect a Norse god to be doing server reboots?

As Sigmund gets to know his mysterious new boyfriend, fate—in the form of an ancient force known as the Wyrd—begins to reveal the threads that weave their lives together. Sigmund doesn’t have the first clue where this adventure will take him, but as Lain says, only fools mess with the Wyrd. Why? Because the Wyrd messes back.





About Alis

Guest Blog by Alis Franklin - What would the Norse Gods think of all the modern stories about them? - November 4, 2014
Alis Franklin is a thirtysomething Australian author of queer urban fantasy. She likes cooking, video games, Norse mythology, and feathered dinosaurs. She’s never seen a live drop bear, but stays away from tall trees, just in case.











Website  ~ Twitter @lokabrenna  ~  Google+
Instagram  ~  Pinterest  ~  Tumblr


Interview with Alis Franklin, author of Liesmith - October 11, 2014


Please welcome Alis Franklin to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Liesmith was published on October 7th by Hydra.



Interview with Alis Franklin, author of Liesmith - October 11, 2014




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Alis:  Thank you so much for having me, it's great to be here! As to when I started writing... honestly, I can't ever remember not writing. Story exercises were some of my favourite things in kindergarten, and somewhere around then I got my first "publication credit"; an acrostic poem I wrote about a local river. It was collected in an anthology of work from local school children. I still remember most of the words to the poem (it started "Murmuring waters wash / Under, over and / 'Round") because I had to recite it at the book launch. Scary stuff!



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Alis:  Both, I guess. I'll tend to get an idea, let it churn around for a while, write it down as a rough outline, start writing the first draft, then go back to refine the outline if I run into plot walls. It depends on the story.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alis:  Finding time to do it. Like most noob authors I have a day job, and also a husband, both of which take up good chunks of attention. So I have to grab writing time when it comes. Most of Liesmith was written on my iPhone, for example, when standing in queues at the grocery store or, well, sitting on the toilet. (No comments on that one, eh?)



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Alis:  Terry Pratchett blew my mind when I was a teenager. There's a real highwire balancing act between writing books that are "clever" and writing books that are "self-indulgent". Pratchett is extremely good at keeping on the "clever" side of that equation; his books are full of references and in-jokes, but I never feel like he's talking down to me if I don't "get" them. Plus he deconstructed fantasy for me so effectively I basically stopped being able to read anything else in the genre for years.

A bit later, Michael Marshall Smith (Spares, Only Forward) made me fall in love with unreliable narrators, first-person POV, and deft foreshadowing. Stephen King taught me the importance of character, and Poppy Z. Brite was the first time I'd ever seen queer sexuality depicted in a genre novel which was, again, mind-blowing, since I'd never seen anything before that allowed for gay characters in fiction that wasn't specifically about being gay.



TQ:  Describe Liesmith in 140 characters or less.

Alis:  "Reincarnated Goddesses, Anthropomorphic Archaeopteryxes, and the End of the World (Again), or, What I Did Over Summer" by Sigmund Sussman.



TQ:  Tell us something about Liesmith that is not in the book description.

AlisLiesmith is on third sweet romance, one third urban fantasy action-adventure, and one third wall-oozing horror.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Liesmith?

Alis:  I got really interested in Norse mythology as a teenager, partly due to growing up in a place called the Woden Valley. It was kind of a weird feeling to realise that the bus interchange I sat in every afternoon on my way home from school was named after the Viking god of death and wisdom, and it got me thinking about a place where gods really did name shopping malls after themselves.

The second element in Liesmith came from growing up geeky and studying computer science at university, and realising how much of tech culture is a mythology in its own right. I mean, in oldskool hacker circles, arguments over things like operating systems were called "religious issues" and "holy wars", and we still refer to things like the "Cult of Mac" nowadays. Plus I just kind like the idea that kids who grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons and watching Star Trek wouldn't be particularly phased by encountering things like magic and sentient non-humans. It's kind of what they've been prepping for their entire lives, after all!

Finally, the third element... well. Early on, I latched onto Loki as a favourite of all the Norse gods; he's an outsider, who doesn't always make great decisions, but is loyal in his own way and generally tries to help the gods up until the point he kinda... gets sick of it. But the character I was really fascinated by was his wife, Sigyn. We basically know nothing about her, other than the fact she stayed--at great cost to herself--with her husband after his exile from Asgard. I mean, Loki might spend an eternity being tortured in prison but at least he gets to have his revenge when he gets out. But what about Sigyn? She cares for her husband through all that time, so she must feel something for him, but we never know what it is. Is she resigned to his punishment? Does she think he deserved it? Is she with him out of fear or obligation... or is it love? And if it is love, how pissed off must she be over what happened...

... and what price would she pay to fix it?



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Liesmith?

Alis:  I read a lot of books on Norse mythology and played a bunch of video games. It was torture, honest.



TQ:  In Liesmith who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Alis:  Lain is the easiest to write. Partly because I've been writing in his POV for years, so I'm used to it, and also because I just find present-tense first person flows really easily. The hardest are probably the gods--Baldr, Sigyn, Loki and so on--because the florid Ye Olde Speake, while fun to indulge in, is way too easy to over over-write. It's also easier to do in present tense, so swapping between the present tense first-person (for Loki) and past tense third person (for Sigyn and Baldr) can be a little tricky.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Liesmith.

Alis:  There's a scene later on in the book where Lain quotes Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings ("fly you fools!"). It's not the line itself so much as the fact I got to have him say it while... well. When people read that scene, just remember Tolkien based Gandalf on the god Odin.

So basically yeah. I'm a huge dork, it's true.



TQ:  What's next?

Alis:  Next is a holiday! We're off round the world later this year. The Hubby is taking me to New York, I'm taking him to Iceland, and it's basically going to be awesome (albeit extremely cold). Plus a bunch of plane flights should (hopefully) give me some decent blocks of writing time; I owe my publisher some sequels for Liesmith in 2015, so... iPhones out and get typing!



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alis:  And thank you so much for having me!





Liesmith
Wyrd 1
Hydra, October 7, 2014
eBook, 308 pages

Interview with Alis Franklin, author of Liesmith - October 11, 2014
At the intersection of the magical and the mundane, Alis Franklin’s thrilling debut novel reimagines mythology for a modern world—where gods and mortals walk side by side.

Working in low-level IT support for a company that’s the toast of the tech world, Sigmund Sussman finds himself content, if not particularly inspired. As compensation for telling people to restart their computer a few times a day, Sigmund earns enough disposable income to gorge on comics and has plenty of free time to devote to his gaming group.

Then in walks the new guy with the unpronounceable last name who immediately becomes IT’s most popular team member. Lain Laufeyjarson is charming and good-looking, with a story for any occasion; shy, awkward Sigmund is none of those things, which is why he finds it odd when Lain flirts with him. But Lain seems cool, even if he’s a little different—though Sigmund never suspects just how different he could be. After all, who would expect a Norse god to be doing server reboots?

As Sigmund gets to know his mysterious new boyfriend, fate—in the form of an ancient force known as the Wyrd—begins to reveal the threads that weave their lives together. Sigmund doesn’t have the first clue where this adventure will take him, but as Lain says, only fools mess with the Wyrd. Why? Because the Wyrd messes back.





About Alis

Interview with Alis Franklin, author of Liesmith - October 11, 2014
Alis Franklin is a thirtysomething Australian author of queer urban fantasy. She likes cooking, video games, Norse mythology, and feathered dinosaurs. She’s never seen a live drop bear, but stays away from tall trees, just in case.











Website  ~ Twitter @lokabrenna  ~  Google+
Instagram  ~  Pinterest  ~  Tumblr


Guest Blog by Alis Franklin - What would the Norse Gods think of all the modern stories about them? - November 4, 2014Interview with Alis Franklin, author of Liesmith - October 11, 2014

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