The Last Viking Returns

Leave a comment

An Australian Viking in Seattle

‘The Last Viking’ is making the long and perilous journey to a Norse museum in Seattle, USA. Read more on the Fremantle Press blog.

Popular children’s book The Last Viking will be read at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, this November as part of a Nordic Stories series.

View original post 170 more words

Leave a comment

The Last Viking Returns today!

The Last Viking Returns is officially in bookshops from today!

To celebrate, we’re having two launches in Perth over the next week.

We’re also having an exhibition of the book’s artwork.

The Last Viking Returns - front coverThe big launch has reached capacity, but there’s still some space left at the second launch.

Here’s the details:

The Last Viking Returns second launch!
Saturday 6 September
11am to 12pm
Beaufort Street Books
567 Beaufort St, Mt Lawley, WA

  • Meet Wolverine the dog and his new friend on the day!
  • There will be a special reading of The Last Viking Returns and activities.
  • Kids tickets cost $5 but can be redeemed off book purchases.
  • FREE entry for adults.

Reservations and ticket purchases: (08) 6142 7996 or


If you can’t make it to either of the launches, you might like to see an exhibition of the artwork from the book.

The Last Viking Returns exhibition
Sept 5 – 30
The Place, State Library of WA
25 Francis St, Perth


On behalf of Norm, thanks again for your support of our books!



Leave a comment

Our second book gets a second book launch

By the time this blog post goes live, we’re likely to have reached capacity for the launch of The Last Viking Returns.

If you couldn’t RSVP in time, don’t despair.

We’ve got a second launch organised!

Keep Saturday 6 September free from 11am to 12pm for a Viking event at Beaufort Street Books, 567 Beaufort St, Mt Lawley, WA.

  • Meet Wolverine the dog and his new friend on the day!
  • There will be a special reading of The Last Viking Returns and activities.
  • Kids tickets cost $5 but can be redeemed off book purchases.
  • FREE entry for adults.

Reservations and ticket purchases: (08) 6142 7996 or

Leave a comment

Toys for the Book Launch

The Last Viking Returns is being launched at the State Library of WA on September 10th, and you are invited to dress up, bring along your little Viklings  and help us celebrate.

We are delighted that Mrs Tonya McCusker,  wife of the recently retired State governor, has agreed to be the official launcher. Since we’ll be indoors surrounded by books and computers rather than at the edge of a Norwegian fiord, she won’t actually be smashing a bottle of champagne (or mead)  across its bow as if it were a longship but it will still be a very exciting event.

In TLV II, as we’ve been calling it, Knut tries a Test Your Strength machine at Viking World, setting off a catastrophic event that is revealed at the end, resulting in him being hailed as a hero, again.  What a surprise I hear you cry.

Jan, my beloved, thought it could be a great idea if we had such a machine at the launch, so I tried Google to locate one. The only one I did find to hire was 6 metres tall, far higher then the library ceiling, but not one to give in too easily, I decided to try and make one.

Back to Google to find some plans, but would you believe that the only descent description I could find was in a 1933 copy of Popular Mechanics magazine. I had to smile as we had old copies of this magazine around the house when I was a kid in the 1960s. I wasted hours trawling through these pages. Fascinating stuff and a real insight into the thinking and advertising of Great Depression USA.xlg_high_striker













Next it was off to Bunnings Hardware for sheets of MDF chipboard, paint, screws, glue and other stuff I didn’t really need but couldn’t resist.  That took a very long time because the place is such a distraction, and I had to check out every aisle, of course.

IMG_8267I just noticed the coffee cup in centre-stage is a promo for AJ Bett’s  fabulous, award-winning book, Zac and Mia.








Every blog  needs a picture of packets of screws, and my long-serving electric drill.









Could the photos get any more exciting if I tried?




















Houston, we have Lift Off, as you might say if you are my age and grew up with the Space Race, Astronauts and Thunderbirds Are Go! All these years later and I still talk like Virgil Tracey.




















And doesn’t this look like a demented, mad scientist up to his sinister, fiendish schemes, if ever you’ve seen one.  “Igor, it’s alive! It’s alive!”

I’ll keep posting the photos of the construction until the striker is finished, or until the damn thing ends up in a rubbish skip because it won’t actually strike, or falls apart, both not unlikely events. 🙂



Leave a comment


‘Where do the ideas come from?’ I hear you ask. Well, if you were about 11 years old you would most likely ask that that question. Most kids do at some point when I’m giving a talk to a class of school kids. That, and how much money do you earn?

My usual answer is that ideas are often borrowed, referenced, or we are paying homage, which is just a pretentious way of saying they are pinched from other favourite works, then reshaped a little to help disguise their origins. There is no shame to it. People have been rewriting Romeo and Juliet over and over for the past 400 years. Every film you watch will be using plots and scenes from earlier ones. What you have to do is try to bring a fresh approach to the story. Often, what happens is you use someone else’s idea as a starting point, but then as your story progresses, it takes on a life of its own and eventually the original is so far removed from its source that yours looks original.


One example I use from The Last Viking. In our version James and I have little Knut, the frightened boy, become brave by channeling the Vikings. He goes to the skateboard park, gets bullied and then, bravely and all alone, faces up to the three bullies. Although he doesn’t realise it, he is eventfully saved by the Norse gods.

The starting point for the sequence came from High Noon, the Gary Cooper western from 1952, directed by Fred Zinnemann. In that Frank Miller and two killers are due to arrive on the noon day train and kill Will Kane, the sheriff, in revenge for him sending them to jail some years earlier.

Will Kale tries to persuade the other town folk to help him, but they all cowardly refuse, so he is forced to stand up to the three killers (bullies) all alone. Whereas Knut is saved by the gods at the very last minute, the sheriff is also saved at the very last minute, but instead by Grace Kelly, a different sort of god (dess). Image Image
For The Last Viking Returns, or The Return of the Last Viking or Here be Dragons, as it has variously been called along the way (it is referred to TLV II in all my notes) we turned to Norse legends for inspiration. We wanted a dragon in the story because they look so majestic, dramatic and simply petrifying with their scales, big sharp teeth and breathing fire. The legend of Sigurd slaying Fafnir the dragon seemed perfect. Being a kids’ books though, we adapted the slaying to something not quite as deadly.


With James now finished illustrating Fafnir in all its terrifying glory, we are both a little worried that it might scare the living daylights out of our young audience. Fafnir scared the pants off me when James first revealed him. It didn’t take too much imagination to believe the dragon could have toasted me for breakfast with his furnace-like breath and the chomped into me with those sharp teeth. But then I’m not anywhere as brave as Knut, our little Nordic hero. In fact, I suspect that when Will Kane came to ask me to help him against Frank Miller, I might not have been as brave as Grace Kelly.

Norman? That’s him leaving town on the five minutes past High Noon train.



Leave a comment

Young Josh is very brave…

You’ve gotta’ love Children’s Bookweek.  This is Josh from Dalyellup Primary School on the coast near Bunbury in WA. His school librarian, Heather Lindsay, invited me to her school to meet all the kids, including the rather terrifying  pre-primary classes.  I survived them and met loads of lovely kids all bursting with excitement and really enjoying the book. It seems it is a favourite with a great many of them and romped it home in the class voting for Book of the Year. Who would have thought the whimsical little story James and I concocted on Rottnest Island three  years ago would be so popular with kids of all ages. Long may it continue as I have some long and expensive holidays, er… book research, to pay for with the royalties.

Josh made a Viking helmet from his bike helmet when he heard I was to visit his class. Excellent! And well done to his parents on picking a name for him that I could actually spell when signing his book.  A real Viking hero’s’ name.  Though he tells me he is considering changing it by deed poll to K-nut.   Even more excellent!!