What if an ancient god escaped his fate and history was thrown to the wolves? In this exciting and anticipated novel, the Vikingverse is established with an alternate history of Norse mythology. I had the opportunity to speak to author Ian Sharpe about his upcoming book, The All Father Paradox. We dove into how and why he created his book, along with the fascination of Norse mythology. The All Father Paradox releases on Tuesday, October 9th and can be ordered on Amazon.
GOING VIKING: This is quite an original idea and an interesting concept to think about when dealing with an alternate reality based off Norse mythology. What brought this idea up to write The All Father Paradox?
IAN SHARPE: It was June 2016. My eSports company had just been ground into the dust by a doomstack of unfortunate events. I’d come out of investor meetings, wondering what I could have done differently, replaying conversations in my head. Slowly, the options available winked out of existence, one by one.
That was my own personal Ragnarok. As the Völuspá notes, “The hot stars down | from heaven are whirled”. I wondered what it would be like to witness the very last star in the heavens and then watch it vanish. It sounds crushing doesn’t it? Bleak beyond belief. But the point is, like the doom of the gods, Ragnarok is really about rebirth. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. So I took that notion, and span it into a story.
GOING VIKING: From the initial conception of your idea to having the book delivered to the world, how long was the process in creating your book?
IAN SHARPE: It would be disingenuous to say I started writing feverishly right away. That summer, I did what any self-respecting videogamer would do; I locked myself away and licked my wounds, playing games to vent my rage. I talked about the novel at BBQs, full of bravado and conceit, but it was only in mid-September that I sat down at the laptop and started constructing sentences. After that, the passage of time seemed to slow: the first draft was done by Christmas.
GOING VIKING: I have always been fascinated in writing my own story one day like so many other people. I am curious on what type of advice you could offer to a young writer to begin writing their own novel.
IAN SHARPE: Writing is a discipline. I joke that someone should invent the Writbit as the equivalent of the popular fitness device. It would track words and chapters instead of steps and calories.
I also find writing to be an organic process. I had a rough storyboard, a map of where I wanted to go. But sometimes the characters and situations take on a life of their own. The narrative puzzle evolves its own twists and turns. Given that, the best thing to do it just sit down and type. You’d be surprised at what the page elves do with it.
GOING VIKING: I see that you have always been intrigued by fantasy and science fiction from a young age, but what fascinated you to dive into Norse mythology?
IAN SHARPE: White Dwarf. It was a magazine published by British games manufacturer Games Workshop, and until the mid-eighties, it covered a wide variety of fantasy and science-fiction role-playing games (it now, sadly, only covers the miniature wargames produced by GW). In turn, those games were full of Tolkien and Thor, and I’d read them cover to cover, over and over, ensconced in my bunkbed. Years later, I met the Editor, Ian Livingstone as part of the Edinburgh Games Festival. Of course, by that point, he was already triumphant with Eidos and Tomb Raider. But when I told him about my youthful fascination with his magazine and his Fighting Fantasy books, he began signing off his email replies with the nom de guerre “Lizard King”. I have always admired how Ian remembers and nurtures his roots.
GOING VIKING: Do you have plans to continue this story beyond book one? Is there a set plan for the number of books you would like to cover?
IAN SHARPE: The Vikingverse is, as the name implies, a new universe. As I mentioned above, Ragnarok is just a little bit of history repeating. The end of the world all over again. The Vikingverse has only just been created, there are a myriad of stories to be told across the timelines. We’ve only just begun.
GOING VIKING: Without giving too much away obviously, what can we expect from Churchwarden Michaels? What type of man is he before the “change” begins?
IAN SHARPE: Churchwarden Michaels is the quintessential Englishman, full of self-importance yet beset by nagging insecurity. Even in everyday life, he always manages to be a bit out of place and a bit out of his depth. But, he is “custodian of a grade-one listed building”, and that comes with “responsibilities”, so he rolls up his sleeves and becomes a reluctant hero.
GOING VIKING: What gave you inspiration throughout your writing process? Were there any sagas you would revert to periodically?
IAN SHARPE: Actually, I avoided the sagas, especially modern renditions like Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. If memory serves, that came out when I was doing revisions, and I didn’t want to corrupt my own work. The only exception was the Völuspá, which I used as something of a framing device and referred to often, and the Heimskringla which helped set the tone for its Vikingverse counterpart.
GOING VIKING: I am assuming Odin would be considered your favorite god in Norse mythology. What other gods do you enjoy reading about and seem to spark your interest the most?
IAN SHARPE: Yes, there is no question that Odin is my favorite. The god of poets and princes, of war and death. One thing that became clear to me is that the Norse gods are very “human”, you only have to look at Lokasenna or “Loki’s quarrel” to see the Aesir aren’t much different to a extended family, gathering for Thanksgiving dinner and squabbling into the evening.
Of that extended family, I wish there were more surviving material on Tyr (besides the whole “Binding of Fenrir” story. If I see one more picture of a one-handed god on Twitter, I might explode), although what I really, really want to know is what happened to Tyr’s nine-hundred headed grandmother. I suppose I can always explore that myself…
I would like to take this time to acknowledge and thank Outland Entertainment and Ian Sharpe for the privilege of making this interview happen. Once again, The All Father Paradox releases tomorrow on October 9, 2018.
Ian Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.