Showing posts from May, 2022

Elf Deniers vs Elf Believers

  There are certain problems with writing about elves.  I’m not the kind of guy who believes in them. I write about a tough Boston homicide cop: could Magnus really believe in elves? There are no elves in Raymond Chandler’s books, nor in Agatha Christie or even Ian Rankin.  And what about the elf-deniers? These are modern, sophisticated Icelanders who resent the stereotype that their countrymen are gullible hicks who believe in fairies. They claim that those who say they believe in elves are just lying. There is a lot of elf-related tourist tat in Reykjavík gift shops, and while I have never attended the famous elf school, it does sound a little like a tourist trap to me. So I was nervous: was the whole country winding me up about elves? I wouldn’t put it past them. But I couldn’t write about Iceland honestly and avoid the subject entirely. It was a problem. Many Icelanders do take elf dwellings seriously. The Icelandic author, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir , is also a civil engineer. She writes


  What about the elves? I had written two full-length novels set in Iceland, and it was becoming clear that there was a question I could no longer dodge. What was I going to do about the elves? I have related how I first heard about them, from Helga at that dinner during my book tour to Reykjavík . Naturally, I was intrigued, and when I met Icelanders in London during my initial research, I would casually ask them about the elves, or the ‘hidden people’ as they are often known. They always took my question seriously. One woman told me that her name had been chosen by a hidden woman, who had whispered it to her grandmother when she was born. You can see from the preceding posts that elves, ghosts and trolls are important in Iceland, even today. My editor was keen that I should include superstition and myth in my books. So I needed to write about elves. The Icelandic Embassy I made an appointment to see Gudjón, a senior diplomat at the Icelandic embassy , and his colleague Ágústa. They