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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