Meet my character: Katja from A Burial Ground of Dreams

I was kindly invited to this blog hop by the utterly lovely Candice Montgomery. She also helped me settle on introducing Katja, my ‘bisexual black Swedish fashion-designer-turned-Valkyria’.

1) What is the name of your character?

I’m Katja. And this is Gråtass, my ulv. He would never let me forget him.

Of course not. Someone has to keep you on your toes before you learn the ropes.

2) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Fictional, though I accepted becoming a Valkyrie at the scene of a historical labyrinth with several graves. My girlfriend’s farm, Greby, exists as well, though the architecture and history is quite different.

3) When and where is the story set?

Modern time, mainly on the west coast of Sweden–Tanumshede and Grebbestad–but also partly in Stockholm with a few jaunts into other places in Sweden. And, not to forget, Mag Mell (an Irish kind-of paradise), Hel and on Yggdrasil itself.

4) What should we know about him/her?

I don’t know. Born and raised in Harmånger, a bit outside of Hudiksvall in the north of Sweden. My father deserted from Vietnam when my mother ended up pregnant with my older brother. At least, that’s the story he generally uses. I have a really good friend named Andrej. We used to be ‘friends with benefits’, but after he met Vendela I backed off.

I also have a lovely girlfriend, Sia. She’s Vendela’s BFF, and I think they were pretty much raised together.

I guess it might also be somewhat relevant that I’m the first Valkyria in, oh … however long. 800 years or so? History was never my strong point, and neither deities nor ghosts are exactly precise with time. Originally I didn’t know what I was signing up for. All I knew was that Andrej’s a werewolf, Vendela’s part skogsrå (forest guardian/nymph), Sia’s a sejdkona (rune worker/seer), and the monster from Storsjön (together with a controlled mage) had kidnapped them. I just begged for something–someone–anyone to help me. Sigrun answered. (this is all part of Sia’s story, the prior saga)

5) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

The Valkyria bits. All I wanted to do was to go on with my life. I have some really good clients, and Lora Seymore wore one of my gowns to the Oscars! But, of course, things couldn’t last. Freja sent dreams of all the battles that I need to Collect in, until I gave in.

Collect? Oh, right. You see, most people when they die go to … wherever they’re supposed to go (heaven, hell, becoming a ghost, or whatever else per their faith or lack-thereof) without much further ado. Some don’t. I’ve only seen cases of the descendants of the followers of the Aesir, but there’s probably other poor sods out there. For instance, if you die in glorious battle–showing off being a badass–Freja or Oden are likely to want you. Just because there were no more Valkyries didn’t mean this stopped. The just stopped being collected. Imagine waiting around for eternity, with your last memories being dying in war?

And to make things worse? Someone’s taking people I am supposed to Collect, and we have no idea how that’s even possible.

Of course, being a Valkyria has its upsides too. I can spend most nights with Sia and still be in Stockholm in the morning since my Ulv–wolf mount–can travel almost instaneously. Even through dimensions.

6) What is the personal goal of the character?

I want to become a famous designer. It’s part of why I befriended Andrej, if we’re going to be brutally honest. I stayed for the camraderie, though. And I’m glad I did, since though I’m not sure how I like the idea of getting trapped, I think that if I’ll ever settle down, Sia’s the one.

7) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The working title is A Burial Ground of Dreams. Though some of the descriptions/information needs to be revised, you can find more here. Also, until the end of NaNoWriMo 2014, you can read the (very, very rough!) draft as I write it on Tablo.Io.

For some nice imagery, I’ve posted pictures from the setting on this page

8) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

As this is part of an ongoing series (where none of the books are completed), a publishing date is still unknown. I want at least the three first books to be more-or-less finalized when I start querying (if I decide to not go with indie publishing).

Excerpt

“Asgard?” Johan’s hand flew to his cross. “I am a good protestant. I belong in Heaven, with God!”

She shrugged, taking her time to set her shield right.

“I didn’t make the rules. I’m just the messenger.” She grinned. “And as you just saw, you can’t shoot the messenger.”

“I will die before I submit to that blasphemy!” Dropping his pistol he drew his sword. “A duel, for the soul of me and my men?”

Katja blinked, putting a hand on Gråtass shoulder to seek advice.

Say yes. He can’t hurt you, and the moment your axe touches him, it is over for him.

“Of course, if that is what you would like.” She dismounted. “On foot, close-combat arms only.” She’d heard of chess with death, but a duel?

The dead formed a circle around them, with Gråtass laying down his massive body at one end. Of course, the gaps between the dead soldiers and Gråtass showed allegiance and fear. Katja turned her axe in her hand, remembering her mentor’s words to put your faith in your weapon.

Like in the battle, the officer was on the offence, lunging with his sword. She rose her shield just in time, the twang resounding through her bones. She needed stronger arms! Her weapon ached to go, and she let it, following the arc, anticipation steel biting into flesh. Instead it slid off of his armour, weak from a moment of her hesitation. He flashed her a grin under his helmet.

“Gott mit uns, witch.”

She ignored his jibe, circling him. He circled her in return. As they both attacked and defended, a spark of excitement awoke in Katja. Her hesitancy melted in its fire. The spark reignited her faith in herself. The axe, heavy, but not too heavy, rested in her hand, pushing her on the offensive.

Step by step, she drove him back. He stumbled, falling on his back, his hands raising to protect himself, in vain, from the final blow.

Silence.

Johan Sköld’s was gone, and in her palm rested a beautiful jewel. She slipped it out of the way.

The soldiers stared at each other. Whomever struck the first blow she was not sure of, but soon it was a free-for-all. The adrenaline flooded her system as she defended herself. Trusting her body and her weapons she threw herself into the battle, collecting the dead one-by-one.

Silence.

She stood alone at the battlefield, with only bodies of the dead, and the crows coming to their feast.


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