Wow, I’ve just discovered that James and I are in good company.
One afternoon after we had a done a gig together at Guildford Grammar School, we were having lunch in the nearby Woodbridge Tavern and began discussing what we would like in the new book. James has always been keen on dragons and thought he could do a good job of bringing one to life on the page. At the same lunch we also decided that a theme park called Viking World would be a good location for the plot, as it will get all the characters out of the house and would be a fabulous, colourful background to whatever we then decided would happen to them.
As dragons (apparently) no longer exist, but did in Norse Mythology, either a long time ago or in another dimension, and our little hero lives in this dimension in a real place called Norseman in 2014, we had a bit of a problem combining the two. One of us, however, then had a brain wave. It was probably James, as he seems to have the most fiendishly ingenious ones, and suggested we combine the two worlds, running two plots throughout the book. One will be the story of Nan and Pop taking their grand-brats to the theme park and them getting into terrible trouble, and the other will be one involving a dragon up in the sky in the mythical land of Asgard where the Norse gods live.
We decided the two plots would mirror each other to a degree and, at the end, the day will be saved in both cases by the actions of our hero, Young Knut, bravest young Viking the world has ever seen.
We then plundered Norse Mythology to come up with a truly great dragon and came across Fafnir, the dragon in the myth of Sigurd, who is a mortal man but becomes a god after killing and drinking Fafnir’s blood. What James has done in bringing him to life has just about caused me night terrors as his Fafnir is truly awesome, in the original sense of the word.
And this is where I just stumbled across the good company I mentioned at the beginning of the page. I had no idea that JRR Tolkien has written this book, only released in 2009, about Sigurd.
The story of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer is told in medieval wooden carvings in a stave church in Hylestad, Setesdal, Norway.
Sigurd is also mentioned in Beowulf, Njal’s Saga, and in Prose Edda by the wonderfully named writer, Snorri Sturluson. He is also in Saga of the Volsungs and Dietrich’s Saga and he is part of German mythology where he is called Siegfried, as in Richard Wagner’s opera.
By coincidence, the music we used in our book trailer, The Ride of the Valkeries (dar dum dar dar dar dum J) is from Siegfried.
Next time I’ll thrill you, or try anyway, with the story of Sigurd – a tale of murder, revenge, lust, curses, trickery, shape-changing and beheadings. Great stuff for kids books. It starts with Sigurd pulling a sword from a tree trunk where it has been stuck for years, and is so reminiscent of King Arthur pulling the sword from the stone.