Showing posts from September, 2021

Time to Write: Magnus I

  Back to London, and time to write the book.  I was looking forward to it, but I was also scared. I’m always nervous when starting a new book. Nobody wants to write a dud, but my first Magnus novel was really important. After the slow demise of the financial thrillers and the failure of the spy novel, this was Plan C. There was as yet no Plan D, and I didn’t fancy drawing one up. Plan C had to work. For encouragement and perhaps a few tips, I read the novels of two British crime writers who had successfully set detective series in foreign countries: Craig Russell and his Fabel series in Hamburg, and David Hewson and his Nic Costa novels in Rome. They were convincing, well plotted with believable characters and, most importantly, authentic settings. They were extremely well written. On the one hand that was encouraging. On the other hand, could I write that well? Welcome to author paranoia. We all have it. It may even be a prerequisite for success; at least that’s what I tell myself.

The Hunt for a Lost Saga

I was on the hunt for a plausible lost saga. How did it get lost? Whom was it about? Originally, the sagas were written down by monks on vellum (calfskin). They used quills from the left wings of ravens or swans better for right-handed scribes and ink made from willow or bearberry. There were hundreds, possibly thousands of copies of the sagas scattered throughout Iceland. Árni Magnússon By the eighteenth century, an Icelandic scholar who lived in Denmark named Árni Magnússon became worried that the stories might become lost, and travelled around Iceland for ten years collecting them. Iceland was poor, and he found scraps of vellum containing sagas repurposed for all kinds of everyday uses, such as shoe insoles or the back of a waistcoat.  He gathered his collection together in fifty-five boxes, and took them all back to Copenhagen in 1720. He became the librarian at the Royal Library, and stored the sagas there. In 1728, a fire swept through Copenhagen , destroying the library. Árn