The Last Viking Returns


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The Striker

I (Norman) am off to Kalgoorlie, out in the goldfields, for Country Bookweek in a few minutes to do a bit of plundering and pillaging and promoting The Last Viking Returns, so I thought I’d post a couple more pictures of progress on the Test-Your-Strengh Striker I’m building for the book launch. To my surprise the firing mechanism actually works, if you are as strong as Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maybe I’d better tone it down a bit so that not every user scores Horrible Little Troll when they hit it. An occasional Viking Princess or even a hit at the top Thor level might be good.

My good friend Sally Murphy, author of Pearl Verses the World and  Roses are Blue, and heaps of other gorgeous books, called in on Friday as she was doing talks nearby at Maylands Library, and tested it out – on my head mostly.

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Here’s how it looks in the book …

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Designing Viking World – the entrance gate

TLV2---2-weeks-to-go

There’s only a fortnight until the release of The Last Viking Returns  on Sept 1st! This is my last behind-the-scenes post before then.

I’ve been focusing on one of the main settings in the book – a theme park called Viking World. There’s a moment early in the book where the family arrives at the park for the first time, and I wanted Josh to have a sense of awe. The text only says “Wow”, so I was free to fill in the rest.

My first sketch looked like this. Not terribly impressive, not awe-inspiring at all, but it helped me to figure out what goes where.

 

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Designing Viking World – the visitor map

TLV2---3-weeks-to-go

There’s only 3 (!) weeks until the release of The Last Viking Returns on September 1, and I’ve got a couple more behind-the-scenes things to show.

I’ve been focusing on one of the main settings in the book – a theme park called Viking World. I had to figure out the rough layout of the park early on so that I could map the journey made by Pop, Josh and the family. I also wanted to make the backgrounds of each illustration consistent with the map so that the reader could really believe in the fictional setting.

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Designing Viking World – the shops and restaurants

pg5---5-weeks-to-goThere’s only 5 weeks until the release of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st), and each week until then I’ll show some more behind-the-scenes images.

I’m focusing on one of the main settings in the book – a theme park called Viking World. The theme park has many places where patrons can buy food and souvenirs, just like a real theme park.

 

Most of Viking World is in fact based on a real theme park – Universal Studios in Singapore. Norman and I attended conferences in Singapore in 2012 and 2013, and on both occasions we set aside a day to visit Universal (you can read more about our adventures here).

I remember vividly the entrance to Universal Studios and the sense of awe I felt. I knew it was all fake and ridiculous and designed to unburden me of my wallet, but I got caught up in the spectacle and the excitement of it all. Here’s the main street as you enter the park (that’s Norm in the middle):

Universal Studios Singapore entrance

All the shops and eateries tie back into the theme of the park, which is movies.You can buy t-shirts and soft toys and all that usual stuff, but you can also buy fresh popcorn, and Oscar statuettes, and movie costumes.

So for our park – Viking World – all the shops, restaurants and stalls would need to relate back to Vikings. Surely it wouldn’t be hard to come up with some ideas?

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Designing Viking World – the Statue of Thor

There’s only 6 weeks until the release of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st), and each week until then I’ll show some more behind-the-scenes images.

I’m going to focus on one of the main settings in the book – a theme park called Viking World. The theme park has a massive statue of Thor.

Patrons are able to climb the stairs inside the statue; there are viewing platforms inside his mouth and the hammer. Naturally, the statue is closed during thunderstorms.

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The most obvious influence for the statue is New York’s Statue of Liberty, which I ferried past a few years ago. Turned out it wasn’t very big – smaller than my head, in fact.

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Ba-doom tish.

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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.

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The Last Beserker?

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I was just send this fabulous photo of Toby by his proud grandmother, Margaret Eaton. Toby is the five year old son of multi-award winning author of stacks of great novels, Tony Eaton, and his lovely wife Imogin. Margaret  is a curator at  the Fremantle Literature Centre who have been fabulous supporters of me from when my first book was launched there twenty years ago, and of James and I and The Last Viking from way before the day it was launched at the centre during the wildest storm anyone can remember. James is even away in the Kimberley region at this very moment  on a Literature Centre sponsored  tour of schools in remote areas.

Below is Margaret’s charming note that came with photo.

Hi Norm,

 Thought you would like to meet the latest Viking to join the band. It is our grandson Toby, Tony and Imogen’s wee one. He has the book read to him each night and he made this great costume with mummy over the weekend. Tony’s contribution was the head wear! He does not seem fussed that it was Wolverine and not Josh thus attired, I shall let him wear the real deal when he visits later this year. He is very proud of the fact that the shield says ‘Toby’  in Viking.

Roll on the sequel!

Cheers,
Margaret.

And as for the sequel that Margaret mentions,  let me tell you, IT LOOKS FABULOUS. All the sketches are in place, and even the words have got past our eagle-eyed editor, Cate Sutherland, without too much slashing and burning.  James has let his imagination really rip and has come up with some stunning images, and I can hardly wait to see it in its full glory. Onward to Viking World.