The Last Viking Returns

The Cutting Room Floor / Outtakes

3 Comments

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 James suggested this blog, but I wasn’t so sure. It is bad enough putting your carefully selected words out there in the magical world of Children’s Book Land for every reader and their unicorn to read after the words have been polished, proofed, repolished, endlessly discussed, reedited and edited again. But raw, just as they came out of the tips of our fingers? Shudder! In the very distinct danger that I will end up looking like an illiterate fool existing on the edge of lunacy, or at least in some sort of altered reality, here are some of the scenes and paragraphs they were, often very wisely, dropped.
James can get away with it. He’s an artist, so all he needs to do is cut his ear off, or something equally eccentric, and people will nod wisely and think, artistic temperament, work in progress, isn’t the structure behind the ink interesting. Me, I just look like I have a poor relationship with grammar.

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Occasionally, James would say, “Come on, you can do funnier than that,” goading me into producing a better joke, and sometimes he would just add in the better joke himself.
More often Cate Sutherland, our editor, would simply highlight a sentence in red and leave if for me to think about (reconsider) and, occasionally, I’d think of a better subplot, but rarely, as I tend to think every word I write is worth a Pulitzer Prize, at least initially. The short passage of time usually brings me crashing back to my more humble senses.

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So, in no particular order, here are some parts that never made it in the 32 pages of either The Last Viking nor The Last Viking Returns, which you can see after September 1st.

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Sunday School? What kids go to Sunday School anymore? That had to go even though I really liked the reference to Geraldine, the Vicar of Dibley. reference.

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The tame bullying here seemed out of proportion to the Gods’ retribution at the end. The nastiness needed revving up somewhat.

 

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On the other hand, the bullies hanging poor little Knut up by his ankles was way over the top. We could imagine wholesale nightmares among the Kindy kids of Australia.

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These bullies are far too frightening. By not seeing their faces, we do not know how old they are. They could be teenagers, or even be Hell’s Angels… or worse.

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ImageImageThe fire-fighters were dropped in the paddling pool / funeral sequence as they added more characters to the scene and so distracted from Knut and Nan & Pop.

 

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ImageThis is the initial storyboard. As you can see, the text almost swamps it. The writer may have forgotten the first rule of Picture Books 101. Let the pictures tell the story when possible.

 

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A 3 o’clock in the morning addition after a wild dream not even connected to the story.

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The numbers down the side are me deciding on the page breaks. I have no idea what the Stalag 13 reference is on the top. The soon-to-be-Runes along the bottom read Why are you reading this (?)
I would also have loved to have seen James’ version of a Bunyip mentioned in the last paragraphs.

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This is a prime example of the editor earning her fabulous salary. Well, it would be except Cate is in the book trade where the words fabulous and salary are never, ever found in the same sentence.

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And this following page is a section of The Last Viking Returns that did not make it to the final version as Knut didn’t quite reach the graveyard on his quest before he ran out of pages.
The 32-page picture book rule is strictly enforced across the book industry, unless you are Shaun Tan and you have just created The Arrival.

Pages 22-23.
Scene : The Recreated Village.
In the graveyard among the Runestone grave stones.
Carved on the rune gravestones are:
Here lies Harald Greentooth. He became Christian and believed he could walk on water. Seems he could not.
He lies Eric the Black. He pillaged the wrong village. Now he is plundering down under.
He lies Bjorn Berserker. He thought he was loved by everyone. He got that wrong.
This grave is saved for Sven Svenson. He will be using it just as soon as his wife catches up with him.

It changes into a dark, Tolkeinesque forest full of scary long sinister shadows. Brrrr! Scary characters straight from Lord of the Rings / Boewulf surround Knut. Knut is in the graveyard with Rune gravestones and.
Knut is all alone in Viking World, frantically searching for his twins. He was responsible for them, and now he has failed.
‘I am not lost,’ he says, trying to convince himself. ‘I am not worried. I am brave. I am Knut, a fierce Viking, afraid of nothing and no one. Nan and Pop and the twins are the ones who are lost.’
The shadows of the ogres and the building grow bigger and take on shapes.
Knut takes out his sword.
‘I will be fine,’ continues Knut, bravely. ‘I will be. I must be brave and find the twins.’

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This is another scene that did not make the cut in TLV II as it is too much of a horror story, though I may try reworking it if we do TLV Three.

Later, Nan and Knut are back in the kitchen making the pirate outfit, while Pop is reading the Norseman Times.
‘Closing our library? ‘That’s what they think!’ rants Nan. ‘Philistines! Fools!’
‘But there’s nothing you can do,’ says Pop. ‘That ICE Corporation is a world-wide giant, and we’re too little. What chance do we have?’
‘That’s nonsense, James! Of course we can do something. Remember who your ancestors were! They were afraid of nothing and no one!’
‘Just like me!’ thinks Knut, excitedly.
‘Go and make some banners, Pop. Josh will help, won’t you, Josh? And get some chains.
6. ‘We’re going to stand up to these creeps. Remember the sixties peace marches! The equal pay for women protests!’ declares Nan. We’re not too old to do it all over again!’
7.Outside the library small children are wailing and lamenting, and looking pitiful.
‘I’m terribly sorry,’ says Sam, the Children’s Librarian, ‘but story-time has been cancelled. Forever!’

8. Nan chains herself to the library railings, holding her umbrella up like a sword.

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Author: normanjorgensen

I'm an Australian writer of books for kids and teenagers. I like traveling and seeing the world, especially through the the lens of my camera. I'm addicted to old movies, red wine and books and decent music.

3 thoughts on “The Cutting Room Floor / Outtakes

  1. Norm, you are very brave for putting these out there and thank you. It is so useful to see the process behind the creation of a picture book, especially one I know so well. I think you and James have created some classics and I can see how much work has gone into these books. Nobody would know unless you show it. I wish that one day the appreciation may turn into some monetary compensation, as all good art should.

    • Thanks Astrid.

      Wouldn’t it be great if the appreciation did actually turn into real cash, especially as Uncle Joe wants us all to still be working at aged 70. I’d love to be able to meet him and say, you can get stuffed you heartless politician (or something a bit like that) as we’ve just had a international best seller and you can keep your miserly pension. 🙂

      Good luck with your book.

      Regards, Norman

  2. This is wonderful, Norman. Giving us this kind of insight into the picture book creation process is a graphic reminder that a story is rarely ‘fixed’ on first writing but evolves during that period from idea to publication.

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