I’m friends with Snorri on Facebook, and the man is absolutely hilarious. For example, he once sent me the best query letter in the history of the world (I get some truly amazing review request letters):
DeAR Mister Chorn.I am has write book. It is with Vikings about it, and I think it is the best Viking book. You have a blog on which you write reviews on which books are the best books. I think my book would look good with a review written on it on your blog because they are bot hthe best book and blog about books. I will write messages to my publisher whose name is Nathaniel Publisher. He is the going to send you the copy of the book. Do you have preferential emails for contacts for trading of addresses for US shipping and such?With great axe greetingsForeign Writer Snorri Kristjansson Viking Man.
Honestly, who can’t love that?
I asked him to grace my website with some details about his past. I think my basic words were, “I’d like to have you on Bookworm Blues. I have no idea what you should write about, but I don’t know anyone else from Iceland. I think that’s interesting. Care to elaborate?” Or something like that. Thankfully, he was kind enough to not tell me how stupid my request was, and he wrote this (rather hilarious) piece.
I sincerely hope you enjoy it.
About the Author
Snorri writes things. Sometimes they are books about Vikings, sometimes they are films (about other things) or silly stage plays (you probably don’t want to know, to be honest).
He spends his days working with words, eating cakes and occasionally teaching at an international school.
Just a small-town boy – an Icelander’s journey into Speculative Fiction
My name is Snorri Kristjansson. The correct pronunciation of that is roughly similar to the noise you get when you pull-start a lawnmower, but you may say it any old way you like. I’m from Iceland, which is an island with about a 9th of the population of Rhode Island stuck prohibitively far into the North Atlantic. I’m not saying it is small, necessarily, but you could pretty much fit the population of my country into Jay-Z’s house. And true to type – aggressive-sounding name, hailing from the cold, dark North – I write about Vikings.
A lot of people ask me ‘why Vikings?’ and I sometimes find it hard to explain. You people from the ‘world’ with your fancy ‘electricity’ and your ‘cars’ and ‘tinned food’ sometimes go hunting for cool stuff, find Norse mythology and Vikings, and go into a fan-spin of ‘ehrmagehrd merewders! Rehrp and Perlerg! Therr! Lokerr! Erdern!’, which is all well and good – but for an Icelander, Vikings are just always there, sort of. So when I got my idea about two dudes who were kind of opposites that complimented each other*, setting it in the Viking age just came naturally.
‘But of course,’ I hear you say. ‘The Icelandic publishing industry is all about their slightly-almost-historical-fiction-thriller-but-with-a-dash-of-fantasy-and-some sweary-bits stuff! They must have been all over your book like a cheap suit, launching oddly fish-decorated currency at you from a cannon!’ To which I’d say ‘..well, not quite.’ After being talent-spotted by a literary agent while on stage doing stand-up comedy in London’s West End, I started writing Swords of Good Men in November 2008 and finished it in November 2009. Then I finished it about 7 times more over two years, learning an awful lot about writing in the process, and then it got picked up in 2012 by the legendary Jo Fletcher of Jo Fletcher Books. This is very unusual for Icelandic authors**, whose path to market is usually through Icelandic publishers who then sell on the rights to publishers abroad. However, as the definition of ‘going Viking’ is pretty much ‘going abroad to do implausible things and seek your fortune’, I would say this is a completely logical chain of events.
Swords of Good Men is book 1 of the Valhalla Saga, which happens at the very peak of the Viking Age. It is historically accurate up to a point – King Olav Tryggvason did exist and bring Christianity to Norway through methods that were sometimes quite thoroughly non-Christian. Other characters and locations are temporally accurate but created with some poetic licence. The language is most certainly not historically accurate, and if my dear readers have problems with that I will quite happily direct them to the actual Sagas, which are made-up stories occasionally about King Olav Tryggvason, written 800 years ago by a guy named Snorri. Book 2, Blood Will Follow***, is out terrifyingly soon in the UK (Feb 15 in the US, I believe) and should be about to be reviewed here and there.
With Beard and Brimstone,
*and funnily enough, that had never been done before.
** or any author, I am given to think, by writers to whom I tell this story. They tend to go oddly quiet and ask for my home address while slowly and deliberately sharpening garden tools.
*** next time I’m going to google prospective titles and make sure they’re not accidentally part of Metallica lyrics before I choose them.