I’m so excited to present to you today my interview with ST Bende about her book ELSKER!
Thanks so much for letting me visit today, Lindsay. As a debut author, it’s been fantastic to be embraced by such a lovely group of bloggers. Y’all have been so gracious!
ELSKER, Book One in THE ELSKER SAGA, follows twenty-year-old Kristia Tostenson as she leaves her small town to find adventure at Cardiff University in Wales. Kristia gets a lot more than she bargained for when she falls in love with Ull Myhr. He’s not just a graduate student – he’s an Asgardian Assassin and the Norse God of Winter. Kristia’s orderly life is about to get seriously complicated.
Being a Finn, I love Scandinavian mythology. What part of your research was the most fun?
Hei hei! The mythology is fantastic, isn’t it? It’s so complex, with nine realms and scores of creatures, and it’s so, so dark. There’s just so much to work with. Researching the myths might have been my favorite part of writing Elsker. I read every book I could find at our little library, including the kids books. (Note to whoever’s in charge of marketing Scandinavian mythology to kids: you might want to scale back on some of the gruesome illustrations. Just sayin’. Who knew trolls were so scary?)
It was important to me to develop a male lead most people hadn’t heard of, so I didn’t do much reading on Thor, Odin and the lot. And although the God of Winter is pretty popular with skiers (did you know there’s an Ull Festival in Colorado? I’d love to go one day!), most people aren’t familiar with him. I knew Ull was my guy when my library got a textbook written by a Scandinavian Studies professor. It was over three hundred pages long, with only a paragraph-long mention of Ull. He was pretty much a scholarly blank page, and I couldn’t wait to create his back-story.
How does Elsker push the envelope for fantasy?
Although there are plenty of stories about Greek gods interacting with mortals, there aren’t a ton of YA/NA books that focus on Scandinavian mythology. Asgard is a radically different world from Mt. Olympus, and the existence of the nine realms opens up a slew of potential bad guys and allies. The Greeks have their Hydra and Titans, but we’ve got Jotuns, Dark Elves, Trolls, and these visionary Norns. And bringing it all to Midgard (Earth), and seeing it through the eyes of a girl whose frame of reference is a 300 person town with one stoplight… well, in that context, the mythological Norse world just seems even crazier. As a writer, it was a dream to have so many types of characters to play with. And as a reader, hopefully it’s a journey that’s different than anything you’ve seen before.
If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?
It’s Time, by Imagine Dragons. My small town girl and my Norse god are literally from two different worlds. Kristia’s future is unwritten, and she moves to Wales for a fresh start. Ull comes from a world where his destiny was set at birth, and he feels powerless over his fate. “I get a little bit bigger but then I admit, I’m just the same as I was. Now don’t you understand? I’m never changing who I am.” Ull would love to feel like he could change the future, but he believes he’s on a predestined course he has to follow. And Kristia’s going to do everything she can to show him he’s wrong.
If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?
If I met Ull in real life I would giggle uncontrollably, turn bright red, ask to take a picture with him, blurt out “I love you” like the grown-up that I am, then run the other way.
If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?
I’d enroll at Hogwarts and hang out with Ron, Hermione and Harry. I would totally be a Gryffindor, and Hermione and I could share our obsessively detailed class notes. On weekends we’d stuff our faces at Honeydukes, though I would never, ever try a Bertie Botts Every Flavored Bean. Ever.
I got to meet Gary Oldman when he was promoting Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and while all the other adults asked him savvy questions about his illustrious acting career, I shoved my Harry Potter book at him and begged for an autograph. He signed it “Gary Oldman/Sirius B.” It’s one of my most prized possessions.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A pantser. Since I wrote Elsker for myself, I didn’t really think much about where it was going or how it would flow. I just sat at the keyboard and waited to see what would happen. I wrote the scenes I wanted to as I thought of them, then went back and pieced them together. It made for some crazy storylines, not all of which made the final cut, but it was really fun.
How has writing changed your life?
Writing lets me purge my creative energy. It’s something I can do on my own, whenever I have the time, and there aren’t any rules. It’s a fantastic release. Getting to share Elsker with the world is really scary, but it’s also the first time I’ve gotten to introduce my imaginary friends to anyone else. And that’s exciting.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I’ll be honest, I’ve never really thought of myself as a writer. It’s just something I love doing, for me. And if you love something, you shouldn’t let anything stop you from doing it. Don’t worry about whether what you’re doing is marketable, or whether you’ll ever get an agent or a publishing deal. Just do what you love, and take pride in knowing that you are pursuing your passion.
That said, if publication is your goal, a good critique partner is invaluable. I’m such a huge fan of mine, we recently wrote a YA project together. We had a blast. *Waves* Hi, Jacque!
THE ELSKER SAGA is available now from Entranced Publishing.
TUR, the prequel, can be downloaded for free at http://www.entrancedpublishing.com/imprints-2/blush/elsker/
ELSKER, Book 1, is available from Entranced, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Find ST Bende on Twitter : @STBende
or at (http://stbende.blogspot.com/).
And be sure to stop by http://stbende.blogspot.com/ between April 11th and May 20th to enter to win fabulous prizes in the ELSKER Release Month of Giveaways!
ELSKER – Book 1, THE ELSKER SAGA
At eight o’clock, a firm knock interrupted my reading. I picked my way through the flower shop that our living room had become and opened the door.
“Oh good, you kept my peace offerings.” Ull treated me to a rakish grin.
“Just a few of them,” I muttered. “Come on in.”
“Oh, no. You must come with me.”
“Why?” I challenged. Ull sighed.
“Are you going to fight me at every turn?”
“Please come.” He looked so adorable standing on my stoop, his scarf casually thrown across the grey sweater under his coat. I gave in quicker than I meant to.
“Fine.” I grabbed my coat from the closet by the door and shoved my keys and wallet into the pocket. “Where are we off to?” I closed the door behind me and followed Ull into the brisk night, waiting for his promised explanation.
But he didn’t say anything. Instead, he put his hand on the small of my back and guided me away from campus. I shivered and noticed that Ull wore his jacket open, at ease in the chill. As we rounded the corner, Ull dropped his hand to clasp mine. It was so warm, so strong, and for a moment I forgot to be mad at him. We walked in silence as he led me down the main road. After two right turns, I found myself standing in a quiet garden.
Ull had brought me to a church.