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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where ideas come from

I have finished my Rita reading and have discovered several authors whose books I will actively look for. It is one of the great treats -- being forced to read new authors, maybe on themes that one would not normally read and discovering -- YES, what a fantastic read.

There are several more books in my TBR pile but my daemon is going crazy. I keep getting whispered to. My daemon dislikes being ignored. The worst part is that the instant I start, my daemon is very likely to up sticks and go into a corner etc. But for now I am grateful and have the general plots mapped out, plus characters for my next Viking (Ivar's story)
The primary source documents for the Vikings are the Icelandic sagas. I know Tolkien drew heavily on them, but it always makes me blink when I discover little bits. Basically at the moment, I have been researching the old places of South Eastern Norway and Southern Sweden, in particular Bohuslu which was subdivided into two districts during the early Viking period. It is the area right next to Viken. Thankfully Ranirike fits my story as Alfhiem sounds a little too Tolkienesque for me.
Tolkien of course drew heavily on the Icelandic sagas. And there is a certain amount of debate on how close to a true historical record they were. Yes, there is embellishment, but did the initial storytellers draw on kernels of fact? Did they root their stories in the fabric of time? Was there an actual Gandalf, not a wizard but a Viking king? How much did the Prose Edda shape Tolkien's imaginings? And ultimately because he created something new and different does it matter?
Lloyd Alexander also drew on the same legends. Hence the reason for the similarities between the two worlds.
The skill in the writer (or some would argue the ancient historian) is to take the bits and create her own world.
But I do find it interesting...fossicking about and suddenly thinking -- oh, I can see echoes.

2 comments:

Kate Hardy said...

He drew on some Old English stuff as well - I remember going to see the final part of LOTR at the cinema and suddenly one of them was speaking poetry... and I thought, I know that, it's the Exeter Book!

The east coast in winter is the perfect thinking place for a Viking story. And I always think of certain bits of OE poetry when I'm walking along the shoreline.

(May have to insist on a day at the beach on Saturday. Haven't been for weeks and I miss the sea.)

Donna Alward said...

Yes, Kate! We just watched the entire trilogy on the weekend (it's freezing here, great for snuggling under a blanket and watching movies) and I remember the part even if I don't remember the lines.