Reading From A Viking on the Subway

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Viking on the Subway by William J. Torgerson

A Viking on the Subway

by William J. Torgerson

Giveaway ends January 28, 2014.

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Midwestern Gothic Horseshoe novel in stories

a Midwestern Gothic Novel

With stories including ones about runaway coffins, a midnight knocker, church healing services, and adulterous relationships, Horseshoe is a float down the river past themes exploring sin, guilt, faith, doubt, and redemption.


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Love on the Big Screen

John Hughes, Molly Ringwald, Sixteen Candles

a coming of age novel in the spirit of Say Anything and High Fidelity

  •  Everything Zuke knows he gets from the movies, most of them late-eighties romantic comedies.
  • You can read the first chapter of Love on the Big Screen as a (downloadable pdf).
  • Listen to a sample from the audio book.
  • Read a sample and purchase from Amazon.


Short Story “Twilight” in

Suicidally Beautiful

Flushing Queens golf sports New York

  •  $5  “Twilight,” is a short story inspired by the twilight rate at a golf course I worked at in Queens. It appears in a sports anthology entitled Suicidally Beautiful. 

For the Love of Books

book club, good books, great reads, Kathy Patrick

a documentary film about Kathy Patrick and the Pulpwood Queens

If you’ve got questions, comments, or just want to say hello, I encourage you to write me at <>.


Welcome to Torg Stories

We at Torg Stories are excited to announce that our film On the French Broad River has been accepted to the Queens World Film Festival in New York City.

The film will screen on Sunday morning March 19th, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. in the Zukor Theater at Astoria Kaufman Studios. Click here for more information about the festival.

trailer features music from Jeremy Vogt and Erika and Shawn Wellman

The seventy-five minute documentary On the French Broad River follows the journey of we four Torgs as we raft 147 miles from Rosman, North Carolina, through class III and IV whitewater rapids, all the way to Douglass Lake in Tennessee. With environmental themes related to water quality and best management practices within watersheds, this film is about the river, the people who use it, and the social and political issues that surround it. Utilizing interviews with those connected to the environmental organizations RiverLink and MountainTrue as well as with experts in the fields of biology, wildlife conservation, and geology, this is an educational and heartwarming film for the whole family.

On the French Broad River Torgerson French Broad River Paddle Trail Asheville Rosman MountainTrue RiverLink

Charlotte, Bill, Izzy and Megan Torgerson on their Star Inflatables raft

Seven years ago I made the switch from high school English teacher and basketball coach to writer and professor.  Since that time, I’ve been blessed to have been hired to teach First Year Writing courses at St. John’s University in New York. I write novels, scripts, publish a podcast, and have just sent out my first documentary film for consideration at several film festivals.

Cherokee McGhee Press has published two of my novels. The first, Love on the Big Screen, tells the story of a college freshman whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-eighties romantic comedies. In writing that book, I drew upon my early dating experiences, my time riding the bench of a small-college basketball team, and my devotion to 80s films such as Say Anything and Sixteen Candles.   My adaptation of that novel won the Grand Prize of the Rhode Island International Screenplay Competition.

80s Movies music John Cusack John Hughes Say Anything Olivet Nazarene lovea scene from the novel by artist Keegan Laycock

Horseshoe is my most recent novel and is set in a fictionalized version of my hometown, Winamac, Indiana. It’s a place where everyone knows everybody else’s business.  Writer Bryan Fuhurness endorsed the novel by writing, “What Sherwood Anderson would have written if he had a sense of humor.”

William Torgerson 80s romantic comedy Winamac Indiana Say Anything Cusack High Fidelity faith God healing service

I ask my students to write a hybrid research paper we call a Scholarly Personal Narrative. I think of Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man and Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking as examples of this sort of text that combines a personal story with scholarly research.  The students also create short documentary films, follow Tweets in their area of interest, and compose ePortfolios as their final writing project.

In order to consider my professional life, I use a metaphor gifted to me by a former professor: Writing Floats on a Sea of Conversation. Given that, I invite you to respond to anything you find here as the first lines of what could be a rewarding conversation.  You can get in touch with me via Twitter @BillTorg or write me an email at

Not Published Yet: A Viking on the Subway

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.

science fiction, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, Vikings, Subway, New York City

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.