Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sue Krinard: Why You Should Read Mist

Hi! Happy to be here.

From the time I was a kid, I told myself fantastic stories. At ten years old, I was already a big fan of the original Star Trek. I was also a major tomboy, playing at swords and superheroes from a very early age. In fifth grade, the teacher read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time to our class, and from then on I was hooked on fantasy and science fiction. I was an avid reader (as I continue to be) and began writing fan fiction in my twenties.

I never thought I’d become a writer (I’m sure we all think we’re going to wind up being something other than what we turned out to be … when I was about six, I wanted to be a paleontologist), so it was really an amazing discovery to learn that I not only had a talent for it, but loved doing it more than anything else.

In 1992, a friend read a piece of fanfic I’d written for the TV show Beauty and the Beast, which combined fantasy with romance.  She suggested I write a romance novel. Naturally, I chose paranormal romance. But after a twenty year career of writing romance, I never gave up my dream of making a career writing “straight fantasy.”

That dream finally came true when I sold Mist, my urban fantasy based on Norse mythology, to Tor.  Not only was I able to write a new kind of story I really loved, but I was also able to put in a touch of romance … not the kind that’s wrapped up in one book, but over the course of a trilogy.

I’m often asked why I chose Norse mythology for my first urban fantasy.  There are three main reasons: I read the “Thor” comic book as a kid (irregularly, since in those days it was verboten for girls to enter comic book stores); I love mythology in general; and I felt it was a relatively unexplored area in urban fantasy. (I was among the very first to use werewolves as heroes in paranormal romance, and have written about nine werewolf romances, so I felt I’d pretty much covered that).  Also, I could take a woman warrior-type character out of mythology and create a strong, determined heroine.

I say “woman-warrior” type because while my Mist is a Valkyrie—those semi-divine women who rode over ancient battlefields, selecting the bravest warriors to join Odin for eternal life in his hall Valhalla—Valkyrie were not fighters themselves. When they weren’t out “choosing the slain,” they were serving alcoholic beverages in Valhalla. In short, they went from shield-maidens to ale-slingers.

When I created Mist, I envisioned a Valkyrie who was far from happy with this role.  But it took a major event—the Last Battle, or Ragnarok, the end of the world—to shake things up and give her a chance to become the warrior she’d always wanted to be. The only problem was that she, along with eleven of her sister Valkyrie, was stuck guarding one of the twelve great Treasures of the gods until those gods could reclaim them. Which Mist has never believed possible since she, along with a few others who now live on Earth—Midgard—seem to be the only survivors of Ragnarok.  

When the story begins, Mist has finally settled down with a good man in San Francisco and trying to live a normal, mortal life … even though she isn’t mortal.  And she’s finally ready to give up her duty when ….
Confused yet?

Okay, a little more background. The Norse gods were called the Aesir, ruled by the All-father, Odin. Among the more prominent gods and goddesses were Thor, Freya, Frigg and Frigga, Heimdall, Njord, and Baldr.  Their perpetual enemy and sometimes ally was Loki, the trickster “god” (really the son of two Jotunar, or giants), who was destined to set off Ragnarok by seeking revenge on the Aesir for binding him in  a cave with a serpents’ venom dripping into his face.

Even more confused, eh? Well, if you’ve seen the Thor movie, you have something of an idea, though I approach the mythology quite differently than the comics or movies do. (And I wrote the novelette “Mist” well before the first Thor movie came out.)  For one thing, my Loki has three monstrous children: Jormungandr, the great World Serpent; Fenrisulfr, the Wolf who is destined to kill Odin; and Hel, the ruler of the underworld, Niflheim and Helheim.  He has one other child, Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged flying steed.  All of whom come into play in the Midgard trilogy.

Loki is one of my favorite characters, and the bad guy in Mist. (I don’t think I’ll be revealing too much if I hint that he’s not the only villain by a long shot.) He’s uninhibited and amoral, so he’ll do things a decent person wouldn’t ... but he can also be charming and attractive and has one major vulnerability that complicates his life. Mist, who is straightforward and honest, has a little trouble with his wiliness … and his desire to take over Midgard, now that it seems the other gods have been destroyed.

But have they? Mist meets a frost giant in Golden Gate Park and is forced into a battle with him. She wins, and then stumbles across an elf wearing rags who she first mistakes for a homeless person.  He has a message for her: Odin and the Aesir are alive, and they’ve sent him as a messenger for the goddess Freya with orders to gather the Treasures. Ragnarok was just a skirmish, ended when some great forcesent all the combatants flying into a formless limbo. The real battle is to take place on the last remaining Home world: Midgard.  If Mist can’t gather her Sisters and hold out until the gods can cross from the Void to Midgard, Loki might very well take over the world and send mortal civilization spiraling into darkness and chaos.
In Mist, the heroine has to learn who and what she really is, and that she can’t escape her own destiny—to lead the first stages of the battle against Loki. But she soon discovers that she’s only beginning to understand what she’s capable of—and that she may be a much more potent adversary than Loki reckoned on.  Her life is further complicated by the elf, Dainn, whose loyalties are divided and who has a major problem of his own, one he’ll do just about anything to overcome. 

The adventures of Mist and co. have been tremendously fun to write. I’ve just finished the second book, Black Ice, due out in August of 2014, and will soon be writing the final book, Battlestorm. (If I get a chance, I have ideas for future books as well.)

And I’ll also put in a brief plug for my Silhouette Nocturne out this month: Daysider, the first in a series about the aftermath of a human/vampire war. It’s very much urban fantasy (or “post-apocalyptic fantasy”) focused on romance. I did about as much world-building for these books as I do for my fantasy, so I feel it’s fairly safe to recommend them to fantasy readers (as long as they can handle fairly detailed love scenes!)

You can find more information on all these books at

Before I sign off, I'd love to know - Have you had a lifelong dream that is finally coming true?  If you were to use mythology as a basis for a fantasy novel, which would you choose, and why?  What elements do you like best in an urban fantasy novel?  Share your thoughts on any one of these questions for a chance to win a copy of Mist!  

Also, if any of you would like a bookmark, send me an SASE and I'll put a couple in the mail to you.

Thanks for having me!

***Susan's winner is Pat C.  Please email with your mailing address!***


Lory Lee said...

My lifelong dream was to help my family and be the one to send my sister to college. I'm happy that It's finally coming true! Two weeks from now I'll be starting with my new job and the pay is much better than my last job.

By the way, "Daysider" sounds good as well as your other books. I'm going to check for them in our local book stores. :)

Pat Cochran said...

Our youngest daughter and eldest grand-
daughter both received their degrees re-
cently. My dream is to aid the younger
grandchildren as they go on to college
also! BTW, very interesting worlds you
have presented to us!

Pat C.