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Why I wrote Postcards from Valhalla by Danny Weston
My latest book began life like so many others…
I’d just finished writing Stand and Deliver (as Philip Caveney) so now, of course, it was time for a new Danny Weston novel, because the two of us alternate. So I began to cast around for ideas. The thought of not working on another book is somehow beyond the pale. I’ve published more than fifty titles now and it’s almost like an addiction. I have to be writing. It’s as simple as that.
The first thought in my mind is always to write about something I haven’t covered before and the second is to try to find a fresh approach to the idea, so it’s not going to be like something that somebody else has already written.
For some reason, Norse mythology came into my mind. As simple as that. ‘I’ve never done anything Norse.’ Of course I’m aware of the old stories in their various forms, those weird fables about gods and warriors and wizards, but I wanted to make them relevant to what’s happening now. I started thinking about more recent iterations - Thor and Loki for instance, as they’re covered in the Marvel films: those bizarre characters running around in spandex and attacking each other with mystical superweapons. I knew I didn’t want to do anything like that.
I asked myself, would it be possible to create a cast of contemporary characters - fairly ordinary people - who nonetheless somehow embodied all those mythical attributes?
Eventually, I settled on the theme of a quest.
My lead character, Viggo, is fifteen years old, a Dungeons and Dragons fan, who has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, Magnus, who, like his father before him, is obsessed with Norse mythology. When Magnus goes missing in Shetland, Viggo’s Mum Alison is understandably worried, and she impulsively books tickets for her and Viggo to go to Shetland to look for him.
OK, there’s my opening premise.
And then I decided that, as the journey unfolds, the fine line that exists between dreams and reality should be increasingly eroded, the two elements bleeding into each other until the reader is unsure what’s fantasy and what’s reality. And some of the dreams would be decidedly creepy.
Early in their journey, Viggo and his mum, Alison, encounter a mysterious travelling musician called Leon, a man who seems to know an awful lot about them, more than any stranger possibly could. Indeed, he seems to know about every subject under the sun (he’s a regular walking Wikipedia) and he seems determined to tag along wherever Viggo and Alison go.
At first, they dislike Leon and do their very best to shake him off, but time and again, they find they are unable to do so. It’s as though he has some mysterious power over them, a way to thwart every plan they draw up to throw him off their tracks.
And as the three of them draw steadily nearer and nearer to Magnus, Viggo and Alison become increasingly dependent on Leon for help and advice.
But who… or what, is he? And where exactly is he leading them?