07 July, 2019

 Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen Blog Tour and Giveaway! @bjornlarssen @rararesources


In March 1920 Icelandic days are short and cold, but the nights are long. For most, on those nights, funny, sad, and dramatic stories are told around the fire. But there is nothing dramatic about Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith who barely manages to make ends meet. He knows nobody will remember him – they already don’t. All he wants is peace, the company of his animals, and a steady supply of his medication. Sometimes he wonders what it would feel like to have a story of his own. He’s about to find out.

Sigurd – a man with a plan, a broken ankle, and shocking amounts of money – won’t talk about himself, but is happy to tell a story that just might get Gunnar killed. The blacksmith's other “friends” are just as eager to write him into stories of their own – from Brynhildur who wants to fix Gunnar, then marry him, his doctor who is on the precipice of calling for an intervention, The Conservative Women of Iceland who want to rehabilitate Gunnar’s “heathen ways” – even the wretched elf has plans for the blacksmith.

As his defenses begin to crumble, Gunnar decides that perhaps his life is due for a change – on his own terms. But can he avoid the endings others have in mind for him, and forge his own?

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Heimförin (Going home)
As I was doing research for my novel I decided to go to Iceland for a few days and take a look at the places I was writing about. I pulled runes, asking what to expect from the trip. The answer was clear: I was going to my spiritual home, I was going to lose something, and I wouldn't be able to guess what that something would be.
I started feeling at home as we were walking through the Keflavík airport. We only spent four days in the country, saw a few tourist attractions, marvelled at the fact that the sun never really went down – it was June. We once went for a walk at two a.m. and the light made it look like late afternoon. I started missing Iceland before we boarded the plane. When we returned to Amsterdam I realised the thing I’d lost was my heart.
In 2018 we went again, for four weeks instead of four days. I told myself that it would be way too long for a vacation, that I would get bored and return to Amsterdam complete again. The old Gods laughed as the weeks flew by. I made a few friends, convinced a clerk at a pharmacy that I could speak perfect Icelandic, and bought way too many books. For every waterfall, every lake so blue I couldn't believe it wasn't Photo-shopped, every colour of lava, every hot spring or puddle of boiling mud surrounded by snow, there were thousands more that I hadn’t managed to see. On the plane back I found myself homesick for a place I still barely knew.
Before the trip I had said to my husband, "you know, I'm not really the type of person that takes pictures, I mean – everything's already online". We returned with three thousand photos. When I look at those pictures today I can still smell the water, hear the cries of birds, feel the breeze on my face. I find it difficult to breathe the relatively smog-free Amsterdam air. The water here tastes of plastic and dust now. My tolerance for heat has rapidly dropped. I used to hate the winter and the cold and await the heat of the summer. Apparently, now my favourite temperature is closer to 10 Celsius degrees (50 Fahrenheit) than 30 (86 Fahrenheit). The old Gods made sure I’ll be back – again.
*I used to consider getting stuck in London crowds a relaxing holiday. Now I want nothing more than to sit in front of a waterfall and just...be. A huge Icelandic flag hangs in my man-cave, and the tunnels in my ears are adorned with the flag as well. I was never interested in history in general, considering it a boring list of wars lost and won, until I spent a year doing research for my historical novel.
I should have never meddled with the affairs of the old Gods, I should have never touched the runes, listened to the elf, taken the Elhaz-shaped piece of lava...
As if you ever had a choice, whispers Freya, the thief of hearts.
I open YouTube again and stream “ten hours of relaxing sounds of an Icelandic waterfall” to my TV, trying to ignore the constant noise outside my window. This is my house, but I am not home.
*If you want to go to Iceland, tell yourself you're going to despise everything you see. Make sure to pick the time with the worst weather possible (remembering that weather in Iceland changes about every ten minutes). Buy the most overpriced sandwiches and avoid restaurants that don't look expensive enough. Forget to take warm clothes with you, so you can be freezing all the time. Maybe, just maybe, you will manage to keep your heart, but do not underestimate the old Gods. Hrafna-Flóki, who discovered Iceland, lost his daughter on the way, went through a horrible winter during which all his livestock perished, and upon his return to Norway declared the island "worthless". Yet he still moved there later, and Iceland was where he eventually died. 
As if he ever had a choice, whispers Freya, the thief of hearts.
The old Gods await your offering. It doesn't matter whether you believe in them or not, for they believe in you, and their greed knows no bounds. But now that I have warned you, you are safe...
Did I just hear a quiet giggle?
 Author Bio 

Bjørn Larssen was made in Poland. He is mostly located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. Born in 1977, he self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one. Since then his short stories and essays were published in Rita Baum Art Magazine, Writer Unboxed, Inaczej Magazine), Edurada.pl, Homiki.pl, and Holandia Expat Magazine. He is a member of Alliance of Independent Authors and Writer Unboxed.

Bjørn has a Master of Science degree in mathematics, worked as a graphic designer, a model, and a blacksmith. He used to speak eight languages (currently down to two and a half). His hobbies include sitting by open fires, dressing like an extra from Vikings, installing operating systems, and dreaming about living in a log cabin in the north of Iceland, even though he hates being cold. He has only met an elf once. So far.

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Giveaway to Win 5 x copies of “Iceland: Making Memories” (INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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