The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide with Noah Tetzner
Today I had the pleasure to speak with Noah Tetzner, from The History of Vikings Podcast about his new book that he wrote called, The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide. This book was just released today, and you can purchase it right now on Amazon in paperback form or Kindle format (links are below). Congratulations to Noah on this achievement!
Here is an excerpt from the synopsis of The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide…
“Journey to the mythic worlds of the medieval Norse and discover the timeless legends that still live within us. The Poetic Edda comprises a mythology of gods and their human heroes who are driven by honor, lust, and wisdom, always seeking power and always settling a new dispute. The Edda begins with resourceful creator-gods crafting the universe out of a giant’s corpse and a powerful seeress imparting details about the inevitable chaos of Ragnarök.”
GOING VIKING: I must say, I was truly impressed when I first heard you wrote a book. I have been listening to your podcast since it has launched, and it has been a joy to see you rise in the community. So, let’s begin with your initial idea of this book. What convinced you to write The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide?
NOAH TETZNER: The Poetic Edda is a key primary source for Norse mythology and I have been studying it since the launch of my podcast. When I first decided to pick it up I found it to be confusing and a bit overwhelming. There are so many characters, storylines, and obscure references that are always up for debate. I decided to write The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide to create no-nonsense, easy to understand, study guide to the Poetic Edda.
GOING VIKING: Approximately how long did it take you to write it? As a young writer, were there any obstacles you faced?
NOAH TETZNER: It took me approximately three months to write The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide and as a young writer I certainly faced my share of obstacles. The largest obstacles were staying on task and writing something every day. The distractions of life and even imposter syndrome would creep up and cause me to stop writing. However, my love of the Old Norse world and passion for this new book overcame those obstacles and now am I able to share this with so many people.
GOING VIKING: Let’s say you are an expert in the field of Norse mythology, as many of your guests are on your podcast. Can they also gain something new to learn in your book? Or, is this targeted specifically for beginners?
NOAH TETZNER: I tried to write this book in a way that assumes the reader has very little prior knowledge about Norse mythology. It is an excellent book for those who are new to the subject but also makes a good companion to those who are already familiar with Norse myth.
GOING VIKING: Norse mythology is fascinating to research but can be daunting to understand if you are new to the topic. What is one thing you hope novice readers can take away from your book?
NOAH TETZNER: When I first became fascinated with Norse mythology the thought of reading the Poetic Edda seemed an extremely daunting task. I know that many people feel the same way, so my hope is to give them a concise guide to one of the most important sources of Norse mythology.
GOING VIKING: Besides the Poetic Edda, were there any other resources you used throughout your writing process? Was there one specific resource that really stood out to you that you kept finding yourself revert to?
NOAH TETZNER: Naturally, the Poetic Edda was the main resource I used to write this book. I also used academic dictionaries to Norse mythology, The Saga of the Volsungs and various other Old Norse sagas. The Poetic Edda itself was something that I fell in love with while writing this book. I had been familiar with the Edda for a long time but digging deep and breaking apart each stanza and poem showed me how rich and timeless these myths really are.
GOING VIKING: During this journey, was there a character or story that you appreciated more during your research that previously you didn’t find as appealing?
NOAH TETZNER: During the journey of writing this book I came to appreciate a poem called Volundarkvitha or The Poem of Volund. The poem encompasses the journey of a clever smith called Volund which involves many different mythical elements. Volund’s marriage to a Valkyrie, his imprisonment by King Nithuth, and the brutal revenge he carries out are just some of the fascinating occurrences within this poem.
GOING VIKING: This may be a popular question; however, I am always intrigued to see people’s answers when it comes to your favorite Norse god or goddess. From listening to your podcast, I know your answer, but you can humor me anyway for the people who don’t know.
NOAH TETZNER: My favorite Norse god is Njord or Njörðr (in Old Norse). He belongs to the Vanir family of gods and is called upon to aid seafarers and fishermen. He is also associated with wealth and riches. We don’t know a great deal about him but can assume that he would have had a significant role in the Vanir cult of ancient Germania. The seafaring nature of his attributes would also suggest his popularity among the medieval Scandinavians.
GOING VIKING: To conclude our interview today, can we expect any more books like this down the road? What are your 2019 goals for The History of Vikings Podcast?
NOAH TETZNER: Yes, you can certainly expect more books related to Vikings, Norse myth, and the Old Norse world in the near future. Perhaps study guides to The Saga of the Volsungs, Gesta Danorum, or Prose Edda. It has been an absolute joy writing The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide and my passion is to help people understand the rich mythology of the Norse. 2019 is an exciting year for The History of Vikings Podcast. I have already recorded interviews with scholars from the University of Iceland and Cambridge University that explore many of the Icelandic sagas and notable characters during the Viking Age. Getting more people interested in the Old Norse world through my podcast and writing more about Norse myth are both goals of mine.
I would like to thank Noah for joining me today and I would like to say congratulations one more time on your book launch today. I know there are many people in our community that will be excited to pick up your book and I look forward to your future endeavors. You can also check out this interview on the Going Viking Podcast!
I urge you to go check out Noah’s new book, The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide. It is available to purchase on Amazon right now. Follow the links below to get your copy!
If you would like to know more about Noah and his podcast, please visit him at:
YouTube: The History of Vikings
You can listen to The History of Vikings podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, his website and most podcast platforms.
Ian Sharpe’s The All Father Paradox
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.
Eric Schumacher’s War King
On the release day of his new book from Hakon’s Saga, I had the pleasure to speak with author Eric Schumacher about War King. We dive into his creative process of the series, along with what he has learned during his writing journey, and a glimpse of what to expect in his third book.
GOING VIKING: How difficult is it writing about an historical figure, such as Harald Bluetooth, to find the right balance between historical accuracy and fiction? How much research goes into a character like this before you jot it down on paper?
ERIC SCHUMACHER: I spend a lot of time researching. That’s part of the fun of writing historical fiction. That research often unearths information about large historical figures such as Hakon the Good or Harald Bluetooth, such as what they did at certain times or perhaps what they looked like (roughly). But there is little to no information about what they were actually like as people. You usually have to infer some of that information from their actions. For instance, we know that there were many building projects that happened while Harald Bluetooth ruled Denmark. Can we then infer that he was industrious, or was he perhaps a fearful king trying to tamp down unrest in his kingdom? Another example is Hakon the Good. We know that he clung to his Christianity for some time, despite resistance from his people. Why, and what does that tell us about his character? Those are the things I look for when resurrecting characters from the distant past when there is little to no description of them as people.
GOING VIKING: This is now the third book in Hakon’s Saga you have written. What are some things you have learned along the way to create these wonderful stories? Have these characters impacted you in any way?
ERIC SCHUMACHER: Great question. In terms of writing, I have learned to have a pretty solid plan in place before diving into the writing. The whole story doesn’t need to be there, but you should have a pretty good idea of historical events, the story arc, the characters who impact it, and so forth. I made the mistake of veering from that in book 2, and it set me back a bit.
I have also endeavored to be as accurate as possible from an historical sense. Where there is simply no data, I really try to find plausible links for why characters did certain things or why certain events happened. I feel like I’ve gotten better at that over time.
Regarding the characters…I don’t know if the characters have impacted me as much as they’ve drawn me closer to them. I’ve been writing about most of these characters — and Hakon in particular — for over twenty years (the first two books took me a while!). I am pretty invested in their story and their lives and remain fascinated by them as well as the age in which they lived. It’s hard to stick with characters that long if you don’t love them!
GOING VIKING: Playing off the last question, was this always the plan you had outlined when you first began writing this series? Did you ever find yourself scratching a significant part of the story and rewriting it?
ERIC SCHUMACHER: I always had the plan to tell Hakon’s complete story and had the rough idea that it would take several books when I first started out.
As for the second part of your question – yes! With book two, Raven’s Feast, I actually had the crazy idea to tell the story from someone else’s first-person point of view. I really enjoyed the process and that character, but the story didn’t work at all. Unfortunately, I ventured down that path for over a year before realizing it wasn’t going to work. I scrapped it all. 150 pages or so down the drain. That was extremely painful, but it taught me a lot about writing and story development, so it wasn’t a complete loss.
GOING VIKING: War King is a very anticipated book for many people and because of that, it may attract new readers to this series. Now, could a reader jump right into the third book without previous knowledge of book one and two? Or do you suggest starting from book one to understand the overall arc of the story?
ERIC SCHUMACHER: I think a reader could get even more invested in Book 3 if they started at the beginning and saw Hakon’s triumphs and struggles from an early age. Also, reading from the beginning can definitely help with the backstory and understanding Hakon’s history. That said, someone could dive right into War King and get pretty invested in Hakon’s story, or so I hope.
GOING VIKING: Just by reading the synopsis of this book, readers are in for a treat when it comes to action. As a writer, is it difficult to choreograph action scenes?
ERIC SCHUMACHER: I love writing the action scenes. My imagination often carries me away to that bygone battlefield or skirmish, and I usually write them without stopping. But that takes some planning. I need to set it all up in my mind first. Before I write, I want to make sure I understand the landscape, the weather, and other factors that could impact the scene. I also want to make sure the strategy of both sides makes sense and seems plausible. With those in place, I then dive in.
But as much as I like writing those scenes, I also want to strike a balance between action and calmer scenes that drive the story forward, and War King definitely has that balance.
GOING VIKING: In a few words, what can you tell us to expect from the sons of Erik?
ERIC SCHUMACHER: They have an unrelenting drive to re-capture what they believe to have been stolen from them: their father’s realm.
GOING VIKING: After two successful books and no doubt a third on its way, how many more books do you have planned for Hakon’s Saga?
ERIC SCHUMACHER: Hmm…I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll just say I have plenty of ideas for stories, so stay tuned.
Thank you to Eric Schumacher for taking the time to conduct this interview with Going Viking. Congratulations on the release of War King! You can get his book now at http://mybook.to/WarKing.
About Eric Schumacher
Eric Schumacher (1968 – ) is an American historical novelist who currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife and two children. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended college at the University of San Diego.
At a very early age, Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Those discoveries continue to fuel his imagination and influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God’s Hammer, was published in 2005.
For more information, visit his website: www.ericschumacher.net
Follow him on Twitter: @DarkAgeScribe