As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I nowadays spend much time on writing Ökenvandring, the sequel to Iskriget, and therefore I have less time for the blog. I have been working a lot on this new book for two weeks, making one false start and thereafter resetting the story to chapter II. It is a matter of focus: the world I have created is rich and wide, so it is easy to get side-tracked.
The Iskriget novel describes the south polar continent of Alba. In this alternate-history diesel-retro world, I have removed Antarctica and Australia and replaced them with Alba and Magalhana, two continents that provide me with the backdrop for the dramatic plots. The two short-stories attached to the end of Iskriget introduce the reader to Magalhana and reveal one or two plot elements that will be of importance in Ökenvandring, like the titanic World Mountain at the continent’s heart.
Whenever I look at the new novel, the continent grows. Focus, focus, focus, I have to tell myself. This is the story of Adèle von Rosen, a 20-something graduate student of archaic linguistics in 1940, and her (mostly indirect) involvement in the European republican rebellion. Iskriget introduces the reader to this war, which began in 1936-37 when Germans and Czechs revolted against the autocratic (Habsburg) Empire. Sweden followed suit and as a consequence got crushed and occupied by tsarist Russia. However, my protagonists see the war from afar, because they move in Earth’s outbacks. I do not wish to show the trenches running through Bohemia and Bavaria to the reader: those places are too horrible.
My aspiration is to create suspenseful adventures in exotic places, where the protagonists face a harsh nature, deal with ruthless enemies (not only the Imperials as Johnny discovers in Iskriget) and are forced to make tough choices about what constitutes a moral course of action in the middle of a war. Adèle gets angry at one occasion, takes what she considers to be the correct action and thereby gets entangled in local issues in a completely unforeseen way. Life is unpredictable and strenuous. Free will — yes, within limits — but one must face its consequences, too. Adèle knows what is right and does it, but she doesn’t (nor cannot) know what impact that action will have on the rest of her life.
I once faced an analogous situation — though my stakes at that time were not as high as Adèle’s — and I still encounter the consequences of that particular choice every now and then. I took the tough path through life. It has brought me both joys and hardships. I hold no regrets. And I use my experiences when writing Adèle’s story.