Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On the Subject of Myths

Today I am going to take a few moments to talk about my journey researching for my upcoming novella, When Ravens Fall. As I have mentioned before, I conceptualized and wrote this story in six weeks. This is quite the feat for someone who works full time and likes to project hop as I do. (Seriously, I'd make a good Easter Bunny.) But since this story was so heavily influenced by Norse legends, it required a shockingly large number of hours devoted solely to research, which only partially took place during the six weeks it took me to actually brainstorm and write the story. After I finished the first draft, I had to go back and spend many, many more days researching the culture and myths of the ancient Norsemen to make sure my story, although pure fantasy, was both respectful to the old legends and believable. I also wanted to make sure that I chose to use only the legends that would tie the story together. I was concerned that by drawing upon such a huge selection of characters and legends that the heart of the story would become quagmired.

Yes, I made up that variation of the word. But it suits this situation so nicely.

I learned so many fascinating tidbits about Norse mythology. This was the first time I had ever written a story based off of these legends. I've dabbled in many of the fairy tales, in Robin Hood and Arthurian legends, in American and British History and even the fathomless mysteries of outer space. But I'd never done any research into the Norsemen. Nearly all of the characters in When Ravens Fall are inspired either directly from actual characters in Norse legend or as imaginary companion characters to actual legends. This led me into another problem: nearly all the legends had multiple variations that I had to sift through to determine which variation of that particular legend I liked the most and which ones would be compatible with a fairy tale mash-up. 

Oh my giddy aunt, WHAT a treasure trove of wealth. Think "Lonely Mountain" quality. I am going to be devoting several posts to this topic because I simply cannot fit it into one. Today I'm going to focus on the physical setting and next week I will dive into the individual character legends. 

To begin with, Norse mythology revolves around a nine world system. NINE WORLDS. For the purpose of my tale, I had to choose only one. I narrowed it down to three potential options before I finally settled on the Niflheim, the land of ice and cold, also known as the "Mist World" by some texts. I chose this one because I wanted a setting that reflected the harshness of the society and also blended well with the direction I intended to take the "magical system" of my world. I am referring to the Mist World here. The Mists play a very large role in my story world's mythology, back story and resolution. This is a subject I intend to come back to in another post.

I took great liberties with the setting. While Midgard or Middle Earth is supposed to be the land of humans, I chose to place humanity directly in the Niflheim because the setting fit perfectly with the plot and played so well off my character pool. It is a brutal and cold world with brutal and cold customs. Take into consideration that the Norsemen revered courage and feats in battle so much they were a requirement for getting in the the Norse afterlife. The Valkyrie would only spirit away the most noble and victorious of warriors to Valhalla, where they would feast and battle for all eternity. Grim, I know, but that's what they believed. Of course, in such a terrible world there will be terrible villains as well. I knew immediately that I would be centering this story around a dragon, although I was very intrigued by the stories about the Frost Giants. Sadly, I only mention them in passing in this tale. I hope to return to them someday and imagine what they could be like. (Yes, I am already working on a sequel). 

And this is where I must end for the day, on the subject of dragons, because once I get into that kettle of fire, I will surely smolder for hours. Oh how I love dragons! I cannot wait to tell you about the wicked dragon who causes so much mischief in this little tale. Do be patient, however, for there are several other characters I must introduce before we get to the dragon.

"The roses are dying and the sky burns red like fire. The times tell the tale of the end.

And the end is always the Dragon."

Since it always comes back to the Dragon, he can wait for his turn at center stage.


  1. This. Is. So. COOL! I have always been fascinated by Norse mythology, but I have never delved into it too deeply. I can't wait to read your next post, and I can't wait to read 'When Ravens Fall'!

    1. I can't even tell you how many hours I have spent reading over the past six months. The Norse legends are amazing. They're complicated and intricate and there is something so beautiful about the poetic translations. I want to get hard copies of some of the poems so I can read trough them at my leisure. I've never been a huge fan of Greek myths, although my husbands fervor for them is growing on me, but I LOVE the Norse myths. So much material to be inspired by.

    2. That is so funny because I have always been OBSESSED with Greek mythology! My love for it comes out in nearly everything I write. Esprit has some themes from it, but I doubt anyone but me noticed. XD I admit, my curiosity for Norse mythology started because of Marvel's Loki *insert fangirl squeal*, but it grew exponentially when I started thoroughly researching how Tolkien utilized Nordic culture into Middle Earth. He even used the name for his world. Anyway, I am so So SO very excited to learn more through your blog posts! ^_^