Lytherus has had the pleasure of featuring awesome author Tessa Gratton in the past (click here and here for the previous ones). Recently she published her new book, The Lost Sun, and Tessa sat down with us to answer some questions about Norse gods, mythology, character voices, and more! Also, we’re doing an exclusive giveaway of all three of Tessa’s hardbacks (Blood Magic, The Blood Keeper, and The Lost Sun). Enter on the widget at the end of the post!
THE LOST SUN takes place in an alternate version of America, founded by Vikings and their gods. Valkyrie council the president, Odin likes to lobby Congress, and trolls attack the Midwest. The story follows a teen berserker and a young prophet as they go on a road trip to find the missing god, Baldur.
What was it like switching worlds from a world of blood magic to a world with Norse gods?
I worked on The Lost Sun while working on the Blood Journals books, so it was important to keep the magic and tones different. I’d say it’s mostly about tone, too – the blood books are darker and skew more toward horror and gothic romance, but the United States of Asgard books are more… epic. They’re adventure novels, with action and romance, and a lot of Americana and philosophy. Less intimate than the blood books. Usually switching was a relief!
How did you decide which Norse influences to incorporate into a more modern-feeling world? Was it hard to blend them at any time?
I wanted to incorporate everything I could, and the world that I know is immensely larger than the world that fit into the book. It was surprisingly easy to meld American culture and Viking Era culture because we share a LOT of values with the Vikings. Democracy, an emphasis on family, glory, loyalty, and law – not to mention conquering other peoples, violence as power, and the desire for expansion of territory!
When setting the main character’s ‘things’, what made you settle on berserker and prophetess? How do these roles play into traditional Norse mythology?
Soren was always a berserker – there’s no good story there, alas! I just knew it when his character spark arrived. It WAS his spark, even. Berserkers are common in many ancient cultures, and there are stories of them in particular in Celtic, Germanic, and Norse mythology. I became interested in them through my interest in Odin, who usually the berserkers were said to belong to – because they’re dangerous and dishonorable, and so couldn’t be Thor’s warriors. They’re loners and die young – a perfect destiny for a YA protagonist to be fighting with! And I wanted to play with how a history like that could exist in a modern American setting. Astrid was more complicated, because I knew I wanted her to be a dreamer, but wasn’t sure how to do it. It took a lot of in-depth reading about old Nordic magic before I landed on the seethkona. Old Nordic magic was calls “seidr” where the d is actually the old letter “eth”, so it’s pronounced like “seether.” I took that magic and built it into the culture of US Asgard, which helped me create Astrid’s mom and Freya both, and those choices are what convinced me Astrid needed to be a seethkona, too. I chose to focus the seethers more on prophecy than on magic because that seems more American to me – we love our prophets here, our preachers and fortune-tellers.
I don’t find either to be more or less difficult. Being a boy is less strange to my experience than being a berserker, or than being a prophet. I try to write my characters as individuals, and their gender and gender identity matters more or less depending on who they are and what their story is. Sometimes gender matters a LOT, and sometimes it matters less than, say, being a berserker.
What is in store for our characters in book 2?
Ah spoilers! I’ll tell you that Soren is not the narrator, though he’s one of the important characters. There will be MORE trolls and more kissing. A lot more of each, actually!
What have you read lately that you’d recommend?
I’ve been reading and rereading all my Melina Marchetta books lately, and I especially recommend JELLICOE ROAD and the FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK trilogy. I thought V. E. Schwab’s upcoming novel about super-villains VICIOUS was excellent, as well as historical fantasy DARK TRIUMPH by R. L. LaFevers, amazing distopia THE SUMMER PRINCE by Alaya Dawn Johnson, and two historicals, THE CAGED GRAVES by Diane Salerni and THE WICKED AND THE JUST by J. Anderson Coats.
Giveaway: Tessa Gratton hardback set (one copy of BLOOD MAGIC, THE BLOOD KEEPER, and THE LOST SUN).
Our giveaway is simple. Unfortunately, it’s open to residents of North America only (sorry, international fans!). If you’re under 18, please make sure to get your parents’ permission to enter the giveaway. You can earn a total of six entries in the giveaway:
- ONE entry for simply entering the giveaway
- TWO entries for following us on Twitter
- TWO entries for “liking” us on Facebook
- ONE entry for talking about the giveaway on Twitter
The giveaway will stay open until Tuesday, August 20th at 12:01 am. The winner will automatically be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The first name of each winner will be announced on this post and winners will be contacted by a member of our staff to begin the process of shipping out your prize.