When I asked Bjorn Larssen to do this guest post, his first question (actually his only question) was whether his character Ludo could say what he says at the end of this post.
Well, there was only one reasonable answer to give him, so that is what I did.
Bjorn says … When I started working on Children, I just wanted to write a re-telling of selected Norse myths. One of the things that interested me were the parts between the stories – when King Thrymr acquired Thor’s hammer, how exactly did he get it? When Loki went to search all the Nine Worlds for the hammer, how did he know to go straight to an unimportant jötunn king? What happens before the myth in which Thor dons a wedding dress – and afterwards?
I already knew that the mythology was incoherent and sometimes self-contradictory, but I was surprised at how much time I spent writing those…connecting tissues, compared to actual myth re-tellings. One of the parts I had written was what I called “the outlaw section” and it wasn’t working. My character gets outlawed for questionable reasons, meets a bunch of outlaws, things happen for a while, then he is rescued and goes to meet the Gods and re-enact The Fortification of Ásgard. Excellent. I just needed to expand the section beyond “things happen for a while.”
I had The Evil One, The Strong One, The One With The Heart Of Gold, and then I had a Stick Figure Outlaw, because I needed them to vote whether to keep my character alive or kill him, and the result needed to be 2:2. So, I added a Generic Voting Outlaw and proceeded to outlining the things that were going to start happening. But the GVO kept disappearing, because I kept forgetting he existed – after all, he has fulfilled his task within the first five pages of this section. And then I saw this photo of Joel Kinnaman…
…and Ludo was born. Born? He was alive, I could smell him (not recommended), tell you how he moved, how he spoke, how he laughed, where he came from, why he became an outlaw, but most of all he wanted to tell me that he was a fucking delight that came to rescue my book.
And he did. Speedy, wiry, his movements swift, voice high-pitched, words clipped. Quick to fight and quicker to laugh (his sense of humour may make Loki’s look reasonable, but still). Impressed by strength and courage, but not by unnecessary sadism. And – sad, so quietly that while everyone knows about it, everyone forgets – which is a mistake.
“People shouldn’t own things when I’m around, it unsettles me,” Ludo says, when explaining “I got me outlawed for fun. I’m not good with laws and rules and property.” But there’s a broken note, as not all of that fun was equally funny… and all this came from one glance at the photo. Ludo kicked the door in rather than appeared, a complete, headache-inducing person, making my other characters seem flat. (Later I checked out the TV series the image comes from, The Killing, and I was surprised to discover no trace of Ludo in Kinnaman’s character. But once Children gets picked up by Netflix, I have words to say about the casting.)
I’ve been saying since then “…and the rest of the section wrote itself,” but I just began to suspect Ludo wrote it, just so that he could introduce himself: “I’m a fucking delight. The nicest man you’ll ever meet. Not an evil bone in my body.” And… you know what? It’s not really untrue.