Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Lars-Henrik Olsen.
About the author:
Lars-Henrik Olsen is a Danish author. His oeuvre spans both children's and youth and adult books. He has written books about animals and nature, Nordic mythology and several historical novels. Among his more notable books are the Erik series. His books have been translated into a total of 13 different languages. In 1976 he published several nature books including Life in the sea: a food chain and Life in the forest: a circuit. His debut fiction novel was Wolves and then followed a series of books with animals and nature as a theme. In 1986 he was awarded The Danish Bookstores Auxiliary Society of Children's Book Prize for Erik Menneskeson. In 1988 this was followed by The dwarf from Normandy which won Denmark's school librarian Society of Children's Book Prize. Since then he has written a wealth of children’s and youth books, many of which are inspired by the Vikings, Norse mythology and medieval times.
A film is now being made of the Erik and the Gods in Denmark.
About Erik and the Gods: Journey to Valhalla:
The Gods have been fighting an endless war with the Giants and they’re slowly losing their powers.
During a terrible storm, Thor appears to Erik, an ordinary 13-year-old boy.
He sends Erik and his daughter on a mission to the Land of the Giants where they must find a Goddess with magic apples.
BUT TIME IS RUNNING OUT.
Can Erik rescue the Goddess from the Giants and prevent the End of the World?
GUEST POST BY LARS-HENRIK OLSEN
I am 71 years old, Zoologist from University of Copenhagen. Married to a wonderful woman, born in Florida. We live in the old part of Copenhagen, but move to our farmhouse in Sweden in the summertime. There, I spend a lot of time in the woods looking for animals, tracks and signs, growing vegetables in our big garden and looking after my three families of honeybees. Up there, I have my veteran-motorbike, a Danish made Nimbus from 1952.
When I was young I didn’t know much about the Norse Mythology, we didn’t learn about it at school. But I once lived in a very desolate part of Sweden where I studied beavers for a book I was writing. One autumn day I experienced an immense thunderstorm, and I saw a lightning close-by hitting a big pine. I was shocked, and suddenly I understood why people in old days believed that a thunderstorm like that was some sort of frightening magic. They believed there was a God named Thor that made the lightening. When it was dark outside in the evenings I had nothing else to do than to sit and read the Sagas in front of my fireplace. And I started reading all the books I could get hold on about the Nordic Gods. Then I realized that there were a lot of wonderful stories not known to me, and to most people too. Strange as it may seem now, but in 1986 there was not much written about the Mythology. So I decided that I had to write the book.
But I didn’t just want to retell all the good stories. I wanted to get as close to the Gods as possible. And I thought, why not let the Gods themselves tell me all about their lives, just as the beavers showed me theirs? If I let an ignorant young man travel to Asgaard, the home of the Gods, and experience the Mythological world and let the Gods tell him all their adventures, it would be a person that the readers could identify with, and it would be just as exciting to read about the Mythology, as it was to me to see the wildlife of the animals around me. Therefore I invented Erik.
To fulfill my project I had to read all the old Sagas very thoroughly and try to find a succession of the stories, starting with the creation of the world as the Vikings believed it. And try to find a plot, a story that could lead Erik to travel through the dangerous world of the Giants, the jætter, as we call them in Danish. Erik could not do it alone, and to help him I used Trud. As little is known about her, I could get her to do anything I wanted in the book. We just know that she was the daughter of Thor. And then, the book wrote itself. Well, I had to read a lot about housing, clothes, weapons food and so on of the Vikings, too, to make the story as credible as possible. It took a couple of years. But it was worthwhile.
I could not imagine the success of the book. It got immediately the biggest prize for children books in Denmark from the Cultural Ministry, and it is translated to all the Nordic countries, Island, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia, Latvia, Russia - and now in England. To read it, is a must for all children in Denmark. It is read too by many young people and grownups. It is the best comprehensive story in Danish about the Nordic Mythology.
One of the reasons of its success is, that the old stories are so good, and perhaps that the Gods are like humans, they do mistakes just as we humans do. I hope I have not made mistakes in the book. It doesn’t seem so, but if I have, I apologize.