Today, I'd like to welcome Colin Brodd, author of “The Saga of Asa Oathkeeper” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
Colin Anders Brodd grew up in the great state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, but currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona. His business cards read "Gentleman Classicist Extraordinaire." He has held many different positions in his life, but his main professional calling has always been a teacher of Latin and Classical Humanities. In addition to Latin and Ancient Greek, he enjoys working with Old English and Old Norse and other old Germanic languages. His favorite genres of fiction are fantasy and science fiction, and he has a great love of RPGs (role-playing games). His favorite nonfiction books tend to be classical and military history or linguistics and languages (especially the aforementioned Greek and Latin). He has enjoyed writing poetry and short stories for as long as he can remember, but only recently became a novelist.
OK - HERE WE GO !!
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
While I would love to have an easy “yes” to this, whether or not I would break the law to save a loved on is a complex, nuanced question, dependent on the circumstances. Some of the variables would include whether you mean “save the life of a loved one” or save them in some other sense (like save them from embarrassment or save them from discomfort), whether “breaking the law” involves hurting anyone else, whether or not the loved one wanted to be saved, and so forth. I am rather respectful of the law, but I am aware that protecting human life is often the higher law.
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Everyone thinks they know the difference between being alive and truly living – until they try to explain the difference. As far as I am concerned, the difference is in mindfulness. Altogether too many people sleepwalk through life, sedating themselves with their favorite vices and staring at their smartphones. Truly living means being mindful, awake, aware, thinking deeply, embracing joy and serenity. I am a Stoic philosopher, you see, but it's a quite misunderstood philosophy. I prefer a thoughtful joy to wild indulgence in passions. Emotion isn't bad, letting it control you is.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
I am motivated to write by the fact that I can not do otherwise. For as long as I can remember, I have had what seems like and infinite number of stories raging in my head, and I must let them out by telling them or surely I would go mad. Or be more mad than I am, anyway. This is how I got into RPGs (role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons) – the need to tell stories. I have always been a voracious reader, and I have been in love with stories for as long as I can remember. Anyway, I take some pleasure in the fact that people enjoy my writing, and I love to share what's in my head with people.
No.4 Why do humans want children?
Humans want children because, like all successful species, we evolved with a very strong instinct for propagating our kind and passing on our genes. One can say that we are more than our biology and our programming, and get very philosophical about it – say “It is our one real path to immortality! We live on through our children!” Which is true. But one could also be coldly clinical and say that any animal (including the human animal) is simply a vessel for genetic information that exists solely in order to replicate itself. Which is kind of depressing, but accurate. I like the immortality notion.
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "The Saga of Asa Oathkeeper"?
The biggest challenge in creating The Saga of Asa Oathkeeper was in finding my voice. I had the story in my head for years, more or less, but I wanted to achieve a very peculiar voice for the piece, something like the narrative voice of the Old Norse sagas, which is at the same time very objective, disinterested, third person, yet engaging and trying to tell an interesting story. It was very hard to maintain that voice. Outside of the sagas, the closest author to the voice I wanted was that of Ursula K. LeGuin in the Earthsea novels. Kind of like that, anyway.
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
I'd like to quote Elwood P. Dowd from Harvey here, if I may - “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be' - she always called me Elwood - 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.” That was me. For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. Seriously – love and compassion is the way to go.
No.7 How did you come up with the title "The Saga of Asa Oathkeeper"?
Well, I was inspired by Old Norse sagas. That's the setting, a fantasy Norse setting. And the main protagonist is Asa Ragnvaldardottir. She's the daughter of a king, Ragnvaldur, who is murdered. She's the rightful heir to the throne, though just a small child, but her throne is stolen by a usurper, Haraldur. She swears an oath to seek justice and throughout the novel she keeps this oath in various ways, so she becomes known as Asa Oathkeeper. She is very tough; a number of people have commented on what a pleasant surprise it is to have a shieldmaiden protagonist instead of some burly Viking berserker guy.
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
Well, nobody likes personal criticism, do they? I take it this is meant to be, “criticism about the book”, in which case, well, I try not to take criticism of my book personally. I try to learn something and grow in my craft from whatever criticism I receive. I try to remember this quote: “Life's a forge, say I! Face the pounding, don't fear the proving, and you'll stand well against any hammer and anvil!” - Hevydd the smith in Lloyd Alexander's Taran, Wanderer.
No.9 Why should people read your book?
People should read my book for fantasy fiction with a strong female protagonist. I like to say that it's not just “chicks in chainmail,” though. Asa, her companions, her enemies, all of them explore some ideas about difference between vengeance and justice, the price of power, and the importance of perseverance. If you like Norse mythology, if you like the History Channel's Vikings, if you like epic fantasy with heroes and dragons, then you should read this book. My world, Midhgardhur, is based on Viking-age history and Norse mythology mixed with modern fantasy and sword-and-sorcery elements. It's a lot of fun!
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Because it is more interesting that way, of course! But seriously, great question! At the risk of committing the teleological fallacy, I cannot help but think that Providence has its reasons, but that they shall ever be mysteries to the mortal mind. Wonderful to contemplate, but the joy is in the questioning, not the answers.
Thank you Colin :)
For taking the time to answer my questions
& the best of luck with your new book!
Check out “The Saga of Asa Oathkeeper” on
In a Norse fantasy world of Midhgardhur,
Asa is the rightful heir to the throne of her kingdom, but the evil usurper Haraldur seeks to slay her to secure his right to the throne. The outlaw rebel Asa, aided by her companions, swears to free the realm from Haraldur and bring justice back to the troubled land.