After tinkering at the edges since last July, James and I have started working on the sequel to The Last Viking. The working title is to be The Lost Vikings [now confirmed as “The Last Viking Returns” = Ed.] and it is set a year or two in future when the twins are now old enough to be terrible toddlers. As a setting for the story, we have created Viking World, a run-down theme park based on a cross between a recreated Viking village and a funfair with a sideshow alley, a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, actors dressed as Vikings, a fiord, a Longhouse and a burning Longship, every afternoon at 5pm.
The minor plot running above the main story is based on a real Norse mythological legend about the God, Sigurd, and his near fatal battle fighting against a huge, fierce, fire-breathing dragon called Fafnir, who attacks Asgard and almost defeats the Gods. Phew!
Now, James and I have been getting a great deal of flack from our friends about this next part, but, in all honesty, we had to visit a funfair as part of our research to make notes and take lots of photos. As luck had it, we were both in Singapore attending the Asian Conference of Children Content, a big important conference mostly about children’s books held in the old Singapore Parliament, and as luck further had it, we had a day off between sessions. And guess where there is a huge funfair? Universal Studios in Singapore.
Like a couple of seven year olds loaded up on red cordial, we took the cable car to Sentosa Island and arrived at the gates of Universal Studios ready to research, research, research. James is a bit of a dinosaur geek from way back, so imagine his delight when we came across Jurassic Park Ride full of enormous and scary dinosaur models that roar at you while you ride in a big rubber ring almost out of control on a recreated river running through a recreated jungle. And if I thought that was scary I hadn’t counted on the Transformers Ride, a seemingly death-inducing assault on the senses and which I didn’t have the sense not to go on. I must say, it did cure my fear of heights, and almost everything else frightening.
My great love of old Hollywood movies was on display everywhere as well so I was just a little excited,, and bouncing about like an Energiser bunny, after catching sight of Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, Frankenstein’s Monster and a very cute Betty Boop. I had to keep reminding myself they were only actors dressed as…er… other actors. Still, you can’t take yourself too seriously, even if you are seriously working, ( yeah right!) so we had our photos taken with most of the characters to prove to the Tax Department it was all genuine when we submit our tax deduction claims next June.
Our editor, Cate Sutherland, liked the idea for the new story when we pitched it to her over a drink at the Left Bank in Fremantle one night after work, so it’s oars out and full sail ahead to the edge of the world, where there be dragons, or a dragon called Fafnir, in this case.
Will Knut save the twins from certain peril? Can Nan and Pop explain to their daughter what happened to the kids? Will the Gods be toasted alive by the fire-breathing dragon, and will little Knut once more have to find deep reserves of courage and defeat the bullies again? Probably not. The bullies are still smarting from their treatment at the hands of the Gods in the last book and are keeping a low profile until Book III, if there is one. But is this to be the end of the Norse Gods’ world? Could well be. You’ll just have to wait until James colours it in.