Snorri Kristjansson’s Swords of Good Men was one of my favourite books last year and also one of two that Wiebe loved as much as I did. It’s a raging, berserk Viking novel, but I loved it to pieces and I couldn’t wait to read the sequel Blood Will Follow. While in Brighton, I was also fortunate enough to meet Snorri in person and he was very lovely and gracious, and patiently listened to Wiebe and I waffling on about how much we liked his book. Today is the publication day for Blood Will Follow and I’m so pleased to be able to bring you an interview with Snorri. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for my review of the book!
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Snorri Kristjansson?
Eater of cake. Teacher of children. Really really super-conscious to not confuse the two. I carry a fair amount of hair, some of which is spread around my face. I’ve dabbled in various arts – theatre, comedy, music – but settled on writing because it’s fun and I get to legally kill people*. Titbits of information and insights into my brain can be found at my website, my Facebook author page and on twitter.
For those readers who haven’t read Swords of Good Men, how would you introduce them to Ulfar and Audun?
Imagine going to a party. It seems a cool party at the start. You may not know too many people and your mate leaves, but it’s okay. You get to talking to some people, the music is turned up a bit louder – there might be an argument, but it’s still quite fun. Now someone is dancing on a table and a glass gets smashed. Suddenly it starts getting a bit nasty. You look around and you can’t really think of anyone in the room that you’d want to say anything to, but they’re all between you and the door. Two guys are squaring up – thick-necked bastards with tattoos and hate in their eyes – and there’s something ugly in the air.
Ulfar enters from the kitchen. He has a beer in each hand, and makes a beeline for the fighters. He has a joke prepared – a filthy one, too. If they listen, the party turns on a dime and becomes a proper raucous time.
If they don’t, you’re going to need Audun.
Ten minutes later there may be some climbing out of a broken back window to the sound of police sirens, but hey – that’s the way it is sometimes.
Aside from the obvious Icelandic connection, why Vikings? Have they always been fascinating to you or have you explored other settings as well?
If I am to be honest, Ulfar and Audun were born before they were Ulfar and Audun – but once I put them in the Viking Era everything just worked. Vikings – proper, actual ones – are way under-represented in Fantasy, and part of my cultural heritage. It’s an odd thing, really – some people get Vikinged when they learn about these awesome badasses, but for me they’ve just always been there, sort of. Also, the world they inhabited lends itself very well to telling the kinds of stories I want to tell.
Swords of Good Men is set in a Viking society on the cusp of Christianity, where the old faith and the new butt up against each other in often violent ways. What captured your imagination about this time period?
Change. Change is awesome, and it makes us really confront what and who we are. Swords of Good Men has a variety of reactions to change, and various types of change. Sometimes change is smooth – and sometimes it really, really isn’t. I’m also interested in the ideas of religion, faith and what drives us as human beings. And also inventive murdering of people with various implements. That’s also a field of interest.
Ulfar and Audun were handed quite the predicament at the ending of the book. Will we learn more about Audun’s past and his curse in Blood Will Follow?
Yes – and their lives are not about to get any easier.
And now a question from Mr Librarian a.k.a. Wiebe: How much of the back drop of the story is created from history and historical research and how much of it ties into the fantastical elements of your story?
Hm. Well. Olav Tryggvason existed. A couple of other period-accurate characters are about to enter the fray. Whereas the existence of the actual gods themselves is up for debate, there is no doubt the mythology and the Vikings’ faith in the plausibility of the fantastical elements in the story existed. Anything they wear or use should be reasonably period-accurate and properly researched**. However some of the locations are more or less created from scratch, and others may have been tweaked to fit the story. From the Vikings’ point of view this would be more or less 100% accurate historical fiction. The ratio for us modern folk might sadly be somewhat lower.
What’s next for you? Do you have any appearances or conventions planned?
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
What’s next is to launch book 2, then cower behind my sofa as the mighty reviewers pass down their verdict. If last year was any indication I will largely ignore all the nice words, focus obsessively on the mild criticisms and then slap myself upside the head when I realize this, and subsequently get on with my life. Currently that means writing Book 3, which is well on its way. I’m still figuring out exactly how to write what it is about, but the idea is more or less solid. I’ve also got Another Thing in the works, along with a bit of dabbling in screenwriting.
As far as appearances go there will be a book launch at Forbidden Planet in Shaftesbury Avenue that I am hugely excited about (June 5th – come along!). As for conventions, I have not yet ironed out my schedule. I am notoriously bad at dates, and this year has not been a great one for planning ahead. If I ever get to anywhere I will make loads of noise about it, though.
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
I have to admit that at the moment I am not managing to keep to any sort of reading schedule. Everything is taking me ages. However, based on the intense quiet and occasional incredulous exclamations from my wife, Sebastian De Castell’s Traitor’s Blade is very good indeed. I have some reading planned for an imaginary holiday at some point in the future, which includes Frances Knight, Stephanie Saulter, Naomi Foyle and Sarah Pinborough. Also, for the five people on the planet who haven’t read it already, Mark Lawrence’s Thorns series is an excellent read.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
I order my books by size. Occasionally I will change it up and go by spine colour. If I’m feeling fruity I will cross-index size with title length, and on occasion stack’em sideways based on most prominently featured country.
*that don’t actually ‘exist’.
** with all the caveats there ever were.
Bio: Snorri Kristjansson was born in Iceland and is a writer and a teacher, with a background in acting, music and stand-up comedy. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, Morag.