I am participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). After completing my first NaNoWriMo last year, I found it was a great motivational tool. This year, my goal is to write 30 thousand words and, from October to December, I plan to finish my novel-in-progress Ragnarok Dreaming. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram or using the Social page on my website to stay updated on my progress. Wish me luck!
I have been working hard writing a large scene over several chapters in my novel-in-progress, Ragnarok Dreaming. The scene is based on a significant section in Norse mythology recorded in The Prose Edda, called the Skaldskaparmal, where Loki is portrayed for the first time as a more malicious being. The Skaldskaparmal describes Loki’s deliberate deception of the most innocent among the gods, Idunn who is also the guardian of immortality for the Aesir. In return for his own life, Loki promises Idunn to the mightiest of the frost giants, Thrazi. When Loki deceives Idunn into following him beyond the protective lands of the Aesir, she is kidnapped by Thrazi and held as his prisoner. Although Loki’s guilt is evident, his concern grows as the Aesir begin to age rapidly without Idunn tending the tree that provides the apples and their immortality. Odin has Loki beaten for his betrayal which has the desired effect to spur Loki’s conscience. He finally agrees to helps rescue Idunn from Thrazi‘s wintry mountain fortress. In truth, the Aesir are too weakened and aged to assault the mountain fortress, Thyrheim. Loki rescues Idunn and lures Thrazi back toward Asgard where Odin and Thor have built a bonfire. In the form of a hawk, Loki easily evades Thrazi’s eagle-form but Thrazi is caught by the flames and destroyed.Loki retains some of his humanity in the Skaldskaparmal but from now on, his considerations of the Aesir are complicated, alternating more swiftly from bitter dislike to a sense of familial belonging. Loki is neither Aesir nor truly of the jotnar but is caught somewhere in-between.
In my work-in-progress, Ragnarok Dreaming, I explore Loki’s conflict where he belongs to neither the giants nor the gods; a conscious and unconscious character motivation.
During the writing my latest Fantasy novel-in-progress, Ragnarok Dreaming, I created character collages for the central characters. These are useful visual aids representing important character aspects and themes. Ragnarok Dreaming is inspired by Norse myths and incorporates aspects of Australian legends.
Loki: The shape-shifting trickster from Norse mythology, Loki is a giant from Muspelheim but bound like a brother to the god Odin, leader of the Aesir. In Ragnarok Dreaming, Loki is rescued from Ginnungagap, a timeless void, waking in female form in an Australian dreamscape of legendary beings
Odin: The god Odin is well known in any mythological inspired Fantasy novel, but in Ragnarok Dreaming, Odin plays the role of the cautious leader, always trying to prevent catastrophe and maintain the balance of order above chaos.
The Norns: the Norns are three central female figures in Norse mythology but neither gods nor giants. The norns tend Yggdrasil and maintain balance in the nine realms. In Ragnarok Dreaming, Loki suspects the norns were responsible for exiling him in the Ginnungagap.
Wahn: Although not a continuing main character through the entire novel, Wahn is inspired by the indigenous Australian legends of the Crow, a Trickster god who acts to preserve those he favours but always through own motivations. In Ragnarok Dreaming, Loki encounters Wahn whole memory returns and self-identity, shaping how Loki will react to later events in the novel.
Freya: The Vanir goddess Freya is a Vanir goddess who dwells close to the lands of Odin and other Aesir gods. Unlike the Aesir, Freya is associated with natural elements but is also the leader of the Valkyries, claiming a portion of the dead who are not favoured by Odin to form her own host of warriors. In Ragnarok Dreaming, Freya is openly hostile toward Loki and controls much more magical power than she allows Odin or the Aesir to understand. In Ragnarok Dreaming, Loki suspects Freya of scheming to undermine the Aesir.
Anjea: Although appearing only in the beginning of Ragnarok Dreaming, Anjea is inspired by the figure from some indigenous Australian legends, a being who gives life and physical form crafted from the earth. In Ragnarok Dreaming, Anjea is the responsible for finding Loki’s lost spirit amid the void of Ginnungagap and fashioning a new physical form.
In re-working of my Amerindian inspired Fantasy novel, Bone Arrow, I’ve created character collages that visually represent aspects of the central characters and surrounding themes.
Sunktokeca: Protagonist and warrior-shaman, sent to defeat Ska-Sicanagi, destructive spirit released by the antagonist, Khangithanka.
Khangithanka: The raven god and bestower of power to shamans. Antagonist to Sunktokeca based on a prophecy declaring Sunkotkeca’s power is akin to the gods despite no pledges to Khangithanka.
Yalse: The Trickster and coyote god, opposing force to Khangithanka & Sunktokeca’s confidant. Important to the outcome of the quest but his motivation is unclear often forcing confrontations with Wazichan and Mastinca.
Ska-Sicanagi: A malevolent spirit released from its binding by Khangithanka and sent to challenge Sunktokeca. If Sunktokeca is defeated, Khangithanka will defeat Yalse and maintain dominance over the shamans.
Mastinca: Sunktokeca’s oldest & most loyal companion. Pivotal to the success of the quest.
Wazichan: An exiled warrior, highly skilled & fated to join Sunktokeca’s quest. Wazichan openly opposes the manipulation of Sunktokeca’s life by Khangithanka and Yalse.
Hinhan: A powerful, dark shaman from the southern islands and creator of the bone arrow Sunktokeca requires to destroy Ska-Sicanagi.
Wakinyela: The love of Sunktokeca’s life he must abandon to defeat Ska-Sicanagi.
Iyaka: Sunktokeca’s jealous step-brother, determined to ruin Sunktokeca’s honour & opposition for Wakinyela’s affections.
From April 10 2019, paperback copies of Bone Arrow will no longer be available for purchase while I prepare a new release. I have learned much about the writing craft since Bone Arrow was released in October 2018. You can follow my writing journey over the next few months while I develop Bone Arrow further, sharing the Amerindian folktales & legends that inspired the story.
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!
Bone Arrow does not attempt to retell indigenous North American folktales or legends, but many names for individual characters were carefully chosen to reflect the personality or motivations.
These names in Bone Arrow are adapted from the Lakota languages, part of the Siouan language family. The Sioux form a group of indigenous Native American tribes sharing many connections of tradition, language and history. That said, the Siouan language family includes tribes from the Great Plains, stretching into southern Canada.
None of the languages in the Siouan language family are exactly the same. The Dakota and Lakota languages are closely related and speakers can understand each other fairly easily. The same is not true for the Nakota language group who are the next most-related language group to the Dakota-Lakota. The Nakota language group includes speakers from the Assiniboine and Stoney languages. Nakota speakers cannot easily understand the speakers of Lakota or Dakota despite being closely-related languages. This alone, emphasises the complexity and advanced networks between Amerindian tribes of the Great Plains.
I do not speak any of the Lakota languages nor have any training in linguistics. I thank the linguistic anthropologists for allowing insight to the Lakota languages so I might use a few words in Bone Arrow. My own research was basic but appreciate the fabulous bilingual resource from the Lakota Language Consortium and their efforts to share Lakhota with the next generations and anyone willing to learn. I also owe thanks to Native American Languages Net for sharing select words, phrases, folktales and resources from many indigenous tribes of the Americas.
Here are some of the names for important characters in Bone Arrow with their pictorial meaning in Lakota:
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.
I am often asked what motivated me to write Bone Arrow, a Fantasy novel inspired by indigenous North American folktales and legends. My inspiration behind Bone Arrow is discussed in a first post, this second post explains the cultural inspiration and a final post details folklore inspiration.
Bone Arrow includes many historic cultural elements from indigenous North America. The collections of artifacts maintained within the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian provide a glimpse into the cultural heritage of indigenous North Americans.
Northwestern University maintains a historic collection of portfolios, in the range of 20 volumes of photographs taken by Edward S. Curtis in the early 1900s. This photographic collection shows some of the varied cultures and people of the past North America. Edward Curtis documented many cultural practices in different tribes throughout his travels but countless more was lost before and after. These portfolios provide a glimpse at the past.
The series of photographs below are a very small fraction of the collection of images taken by Edward S. Curtis during the early 1900s and are maintained as part of the collections at Northwestern University in the United States.
I am often asked what motivated me to write Bone Arrow, a Fantasy novel inspired by indigenous North American folktales and legends. My inspiration behind Bone Arrow is discussed in this first post, a second post explains the historic cultural inspiration and a final post details folklore inspiration.
Bone Arrow draws on what I have always felt a firm connection to the natural world. From adolescence to when I wrote Bone Arrow in my mid-twenties, the impact of human-induced climate change and environmental damage was becoming apparent in Australia during the “Millennium drought” as the decade-long drought in the 2000s became known. In this context, I crafted a story where conflicting personalities battled for dominance and where the survival of the the natural world was paramount. This became the basic outline for Bone Arrow.
One of the earliest and most influential books I read in my adolescence was by American author Dee Brown Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee. The honest and often incredibly harrowing description of the American-Indian Wars, from the institutions of Reservations to the final surrender of Amerindian leaders in order to save their people had a profound impact on me. The historic fight begun by indigenous Amerindian leaders to preserve their culture and histories, their attempts to make American leaders understand the philosophies of their culture is a story that sadly continues today.
The influential historic indigenous writings by Amerindian leaders included Geronimo, Black Elk, Chief Joseph, Sitting Bull, Chief Seattle and Red Cloud and among many others, led me to write Bone Arrow, to incorporate the past history and present issues into a story that might inspire a present world to listen to the wisdom of the past and not repeat it.