Now that the lovely Kris Williams, fifth member of ABBA, has mightily, regally and graciously launched Little Knut, the Last Viking, off on his first voyage, ( just did I just hint at a sequel then?) I thought you might be interested in seeing the very first draft I did of the story, late on a Friday night two years ago at a Rottnest Island Writers and llustrators camp. This was few hours after having first seen James’ drawing of the little knight and me suggesting to him we might like to do a story together about a boy who dresses up like a Viking.
Having announced that to James, and, unfortunately, a lot of witnesses sitting close by, I then panicked and thought I had better actually produce something for him to illustrate. Hence the late night and the hurried scribble. Had there not been witnesses I could have told him next morning he imagined it and was having nightmares.
Should you be able to read my writing, you can see lots of elements of the story that ended up in the final draft, although not in any order, because at this stage the ideas for what Knut looked like, what happens to him, what he does, and the consequences, as well as a real plot, were still swirling around in my head like a Longship caught in a whirlpool at the edge of the known world, where there be dragons. Had I known how much work the next two years would entail for me, but especially for James, I might have let the Longship be hurled off the edge of the world, along with my images of a small boy carrying on like a barbarian in his grandparents’ back garden.
Then you see a sight like this, with all the piles of brand new, shiny books lined up like precious gems and holy books plundered from the castles and monasteries of Northumbria, and they have your name on the cover! And you think, idiot, what ever could you have been thinking? It was worth every rewritten page, every substituted word, every ditched idea, every mild disagreement over words OR picture, because you can’t have both, and every sketch worked, reworked and reworked ten times over.
As you can see in the draft about halfway down, Knut’s shield was to be a Volvo hubcap. That had to be changed when we made the Gods accidentally drop a shield to Earth from their celestial Longship, so we could hint that the action might actually be happening in real life and not just in Knut’s head. I’m still wondering, however, would Volvo Ltd have come after us with a Thing full of lawyers and a string of copyright lawsuits for using their logo?