We are pleased to welcome author Lars Walker today. Lars grew up on a farm in southeastern Minnesota. He has worked over the years as (among other things) a crab meat handler in Alaska, a radio announcer, an administrative assistant, and a librarian. He also does Norwegian translation. He is the author of several published fantasy novels, the most recent of which is West Oversea, published by Nordskog Publications. He lives in suburban Minneapolis.
Welcome Lars. We are excited to have you here. Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I’m a very quiet, very shy guy, perhaps the dullest man in North America. When I’m not at work or writing, I can often be found playing Viking with a reenactment group.
How long have you been writing?
When I was a kid I intended to be an artist, but I was never entirely happy with my work. In high school I started experimenting with writing stories, and within a couple years I’d stopped drawing altogether. Writing just scratched my itch better.
Are you a morning or an evening writer?
Evening. Definitely evening. If the Lord had intended me to write in the morning, He’d have made me nocturnal.
Tell us about your latest book. What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
West Oversea is a historical fantasy set a little after the year 1000. The hero is Erling Skjalgsson, an actual historical figure. Rather than do a shameful deed, he gives up his property and power, and sets sail west, with friends and family, to trade with Leif Eriksson (whom he probably actually knew) in Greenland. But bad storms and supernatural forces make the voyage a lot longer and more dangerous than they planned. He visits Iceland, and also a strange new land recently discovered by Leif.
Have you always written in this genre?
Yeah, I’ve wanted to write fantasy from the beginning. I was a fan of Tolkien, but it was really Robert E. Howard’s stories that made me think, “You know, I could write this kind of thing.”
What do you like about this genre?
I’m fascinated by the intersection between spirit and the material. I like to explore the places where the supernatural breaks into our world. That’s why I don’t do much world-building. I find plenty of wonders in the world we’ve got. As a Christian, I’m kind of obsessive about the Incarnation, the whole business of the Word made Flesh.
Was the road to publication challenging?
I started the short story that became my first novel around 1970. I gave it up as a dead loss after a while, but eventually picked it up and finished it. I still knew it was garbage, but I figured if I just finished the thing, I’d know that I could at least do the physical work of writing a book. Someday (I reasoned) I’d be ready to write something worth reading, and having done the work once would encourage me. I sold some short stories to a major Science Fiction/Fantasy magazine in the 1980s. The editor who bought them became an agent, and took me on. He then started flogging my books. I finally got one (not the first one) published in 1997. So the whole process only took a little over 25 years.
Do you have an agent or are you seeking representation?
I had the agent I mentioned above for many years, but he passed away recently. For now I’m without representation.
If you could be any character in your book, who would you be and why?
I suppose I’d like to be Erling, the hero. He’s one of life’s golden boys, someone born with all the advantages, but he somehow manages to overcome that and not be a jerk. But I’m actually more like the narrator, Father Aillil, a former Irish slave who’s full of fears and self-doubts. Father Aillil is a bridge character, like Tolkien’s hobbits. He’s enough like a modern man to give readers a way to approach heroes like Erling.
What is different about your book compared to other books out on the market?
The problem with most Viking books, in my opinion, is that they’re clunky. They’re usually written in a high-flown style that’s not much like saga language, and the heroic ethic comes off as unrealistic to modern people. My books are more down to earth (in spite of the supernatural elements) without being contemptuous, and they have a sense of humor.
What was your favorite book growing up?
I had so many. The Lord of the Rings, I guess, along with Howard’s Conan stories.
Do you currently have a favorite author?
My all-time favorite author is C. S. Lewis. He was a fan of Norse mythology; I like to think he’d have enjoyed my books. As far as contemporary authors are concerned, I’ve become a rabid fan of the thriller writer Andrew Klavan. Especially his Weiss-Bishop detective trilogy, which ought to be much better known than it is.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
West Oversea can be purchased at Amazon.com, or you can go to my publisher at www.sendmethatbook.com. If you’re in the upper Midwest and catch my Viking group at a Scandinavian festival, I’ll sell you one myself and autograph it.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
What is up next for you?
I’ve got another Erling book in the pipeline, as well as a couple of more modern fantasies.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for your time and bandwidth.
Thanks for joining us today, Lars. We wish you great success.