What I’m writing about this week, #13: fjords

Some of the action in my next Fire Born novel (No.4), the continuing adventures of Bjarki and Tor, takes place in Norway. Up till now the two heroes have been in north Germany for The Last Berserker and The Saxon Wolf, and deep in Mittel Europe for The Loki Sword but, until recently, I hadn’t grasped how radically different the various Scandinavian landscapes were. Here’s a fjord in southwest Norway, for example:

Zigzag road leading down to Lysebodn, at the end of Lystrefjord, Norway

I have spent this morning trying to work out how Bjarki and a tiny band of warriors could attack a fictional settlement at the end of this real fjord, and I concluded that it would be extremely difficult. They’d have to come overland – but look at those cliffs! And here, below, is an image of the dank, forested north of Sweden, where Tor’s home Bearstead is located, near the city of Gavle. This is where some more action takes place in Fire Born 4. It’s quite a contrast – from wild and windswept to claustrophobic and spooky.

And below is the modern-day site of where the Irminsul, the World Tree of the pagan North, is claimed to have once stood. The holy tree grew on the little plateau (in my books the Groves of Eresberg) which is now the sleepy German commuter town of Obermarsburg. This is where such a lot of spiritual anguish, physical ordeal and all manner of mad, bloody berserker-ish stuff happens in The Last Berserker.

I’ve never been to any of the places pictured above. Constraints of both time and money forbid it. But one day, perhaps, I will visit them all. It’s weird writing about places you have never been to, and difficult; and it is easy to get things horribly wrong. Thank God for the internet! I’d not be able to work without it.

In other news . . .

A lot of people have been complaining that I did not include a map in The Loki Sword. This was the publisher’s decision, not mine. But in compensation, here is a very rough (and a bit childlike) hand-drawn map of where Bjarki and Tor went in The Loki Sword. I did most of my research with Google Maps online and didn’t print them out. This was an early private doodle, a cartoonish guide to the where and what.

Here is a proper map of 8th-century Saxony, drawn up for free by my brilliant and generous brother John, which I published in The Saxon Wolf. Quite the contrast to the doodle above, I think you will agree.

One day, when I am fabulously rich, I shall commission beautiful maps for all my books and hopefully be able to actually go to visit all the places in my novels before I sit down to write about them – walk the ground, as I call it. Both those prospects looks pretty remote at the moment. However, if you wanted to help me get there faster, maybe produce better books, you could make a contribution to my Ko-fi page.

Or, better still, buy one of my novels: The Last Berserker, The Saxon Wolf and The Loki Sword are all available as eBooks and Paperback from Amazon. Fire Born 4 (no title yet) will be out next summer.

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