of “Thor” and “Valhalla”… and next steps

We did go to see “Thor” on opening night. Even when there’s a movie I really want to see, I usually stay away during opening weekend, to avoid the crowds. But given the overlap in mythology between “Thor” and my book, “Valhalla,” I knew I had to get into a theater as soon as I could. (Plus, I’d worked my hiney off trying to get “Valhalla” ready for release just prior to “Thor” hitting screens nationwide.)

And then, of course, I waited more than a week to blog about it. What can I say? I’ve been really busy.

There will always be creative license taken when adapting ancient myth for modern story lines. I certainly did some of that with “Valhalla,” and “Thor” is just as guilty. For my story, for instance, I invented the idea of the Moon Witch and a reincarnating Yggdrasil, and I re-imagined how Berserkers are called to battle. The adaptation in “Thor” that bothers me the most, though, is Odin’s eye. The prologue of the movie implies that he lost his eye in a battle against the Frost Giants, when according to legend Odin instead intentionally sacrificed his eye in order to drink from the Well of Wisdom.

The movie is fun, though it is all about a comic book superhero, so don’t expect a tremendous amount of depth or meditations on how to live a truly meaningful life. I was actually surprised to like it as much as I did. I’m usually not a huge fan of superhero movies, and expect it was having Kenneth Branagh at the helm of “Thor” that accounts largely for the movie’s success. In short: if you haven’t been to see “Thor,” it’s not a waste of money.

I do think “Valhalla” is both more humorous and more accessible. This isn’t just my not-so-objective opinion on trying to compare my little ebook to a summer blockbuster movie with millions of dollars in special effects; others who have read “Valhalla” and have also seen “Thor” have come to the same conclusion. “Valhalla” isn’t flashy and doesn’t have as many explosions, but I can easily see the main character in “Thor” as a younger and less worldly version of the Thor who figures so prominently in “Valhalla.” My Thor is still blustery and impetuous with a short-fused temper, but he’s older and less physically powerful, and he’s more aware of his own limitations. Oh, and did I mention that he’s a lot funnier?

(Also, as Mike has repeatedly pointed out, the “Valhalla” ebook costs $2.99 and provides several days of entertainment — depending on your reading speed — and can be re-read as often as you like, while a ticket to “Thor” will set you back $8-10 and is over in two hours.)

In the meantime, I’ve been working on getting “Witches Brew” ready for a summer release. This is a decidedly quieter story than “Valhalla,” involving a pair of cousins inheriting their witchy old uncle’s haunted house and garden, where they discover a rather unusual plant — instead of old gods and ancient heroes running around trying to save the world. It’s set in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia, instead of my adopted home of Portland, Oregon, and I doubt seriously that you’ll find any mention of Burgerville or Voodoo Doughnut in “Witches Brew,” although there are fried pickles and limeades.

At least, I’ve been trying to work on this rewrite/revision/pre-pub prep. I’ve been up to my eyeballs with promoting “Valhalla,” writing regular features for The Oregonian and doing the odd copywriting job. I’d already worked long hours every day — no weekends off — since mid-March on “Valhalla,” and I’m not in my twenties anymore so I’m fairly burnt out. I’m searching for that delicate balance that allows sticking to an aggressive schedule and cutting myself some slack.

After “Witches Brew,” I’ll go to work on rewriting “Iduna’s Apples” (Valhalla vol. 2) for release late summer or early fall.

Now, in the midst of all of this, I’ll head to Laramie, Wyoming, for this year’s Launch Pad workshop. If you’ve had any personal contact with me over the last three or four weeks, you know how insanely excited I am about this! Launch Pad was founded by professor, astronomer and sci-fi author Mike Brotherton as a means of educating writers about astronomy and science in order to better inform their fiction and non-fiction work. Launch Pad has been funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation. It’s a fairly competitive program to get into, and I’m just over the moon that I get to participate this year.

I’m also one of 20 finalists for 10 fellowship positions (through a program to be named later) that would send me overseas for a good chunk of the fall. There were 110 applications for these fellowships, and after getting over this first strenuous hurdle, my proposed project now has a 50-50 shot at being selected.

Obviously, both of these programs may have an immediate, delaying impact on getting these ebooks out, but I have no doubt they will both also expand my horizons and improve my craft for many, many stories yet to come.

Posted in thoughts from the spiral, writing & publishing and tagged , , , .


    • Tuffy, you’re such a sweetheart. I made my first batch of fried pickles last night, and they weren’t awful. 😉 Actually, they were pretty good; I just have a few recipe alterations I’d like to try for next time.

  1. Wow, Jen. I guess you have been just a “little” busy. But it all sounds incredibly productive and exciting, with great possibilities for the future. Wonderful! As you know, I have Valhalla and am positively itching to read it but juggling so many balls at once. With any luck we are going to the cottage for a little breather next week; if so, I’m stealing Jon’s PlayBook and reading Valhalla cover to cover. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove you're not a robot! * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.