Last week my writer friend Greg Lilly wrote about a work in progress (WIP) and invited me to do the same this week. I did, and for next week, I’m passing the WIP baton to my friend Jane Roper. I read and enjoyed Jane’s camp-themed novel Eden Lake, and I’m touched by the regular writing she does about her family as her daughter Clio undergoes chemotherapy treatment. Jane is a funny and smart lady, a great mom. First, here are my answers to questions about a work in progress:
What is the working title of your book?
A Viking on the Subway
Where did the idea come from for the book?
A couple of ideas converged to provide the catalyst for the writing of this book: an article about a ship burial in Norway caught my attention. The ship uniquely held the remains of two women. Most of the time, these sorts of burials were reserved for local kings. Additionally, for a growing period of five years or so, I’d felt more uneasy about how little I knew about my family’s Norweigan ancestry. My Aunt Olive Torgerson put together a rich family history that included Peter Magnus Torgerson who was born in Bergen, Norway and buried in Oakwoods Cemetery in Chicago.
When I read the ship burial article, I had just started living in New York under what is called Hell Gate Bridge, and I was taking my first subway rides. I decided to bring one of the woman from the ship burial in Norway to contemporary New York City. I had to figure out what she was doing on the N train from Queens to Central Park. The story proceeded from there.
the family strikes a Viking pose
What genre does your book fall under?
I just followed the seed of the story into Urban Fantasy. I think “science fiction” would also work. I grew up reading C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, and those books probably began the training I’d need to write something such as A Viking on the Subway. I read a lot of science fiction as a kid including Star Wars books and amazingly (what a contrast from C.S. Lewis) L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth. It was over a thousand pages, and I was probably around thirteen years old when I read it. I liked The Hobbit and most of Kurt Vonnegut. I remember Vonnegut’s Bokononism, a made-up religion in his book Cat’s Cradle. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is probably the most recent science fiction I have read. I can’t believe I liked that book. The premise sounded so hopeless and terrible.
What actress would you choose to play your lead character in a movie adaptation?
Well, why not dream big and have Scarlett Johansson as the protagonist, Maija Finehair? I love imagining a fleet of Viking longships sailing down the Hudson or a dragon emerging from the pond by Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Maija Finehair is a Viking warrior whisked across the heavens to contemporary New York City where she finds herself in the midst of the events leading up to the last great battle on earth.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m open to all the sorts of ways a story can reach an audience. I’ve wondered about selling this as an eBook for something like a $1 straight from this website. While I’m mentioning this, I’m also thinking about curating more books, short films, and music I admire from indie artists I encounter. If you like what I like, maybe you’d be willing to come by the site and check out the artists’ work.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The time is takes me to do a draft isn’t nearly as hard to figure out as the length of time necessary for a book to be ready for submission. I write 800 words a day six days a week when I’m on a project. I wrote this in under ten months. That’s certainly not National Novel Writing Month speed.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This question is part of my trouble. I followed the seed of this story into a genre I haven’t read in a long time. In this novel, there’s old-school Vikings running around contemporary New York City. I don’t know contemporary urban fantasy. Can you help me out?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The book is set in a geographically accurate New York City except for (as far as I know) the secret trap doors in the floor of the Belvedere Castle in Central Park which lead to Odin’s Valhalla. I did a lot of the writing of this book while I was physically sitting in the space where the story was set. This means I took my laptop and sat down to write in Chinatown, Union Square, Central Park, outside of the Upper East Side entrance to the New York City Road Runners Club, and on the subways. As you might know, there are lots of characters walking the streets of The Big Apple.
So it works like this: I link to another writer who answers these questions about their own work in progress. Meet Jane Roper.