Trivia about
The VIKINGS! Trilogy     


     Eric stared inside his oldest drinking horn; it looked green, as if something was growing behind the curve of his horn. He shrugged and refilled it from the keg.

This opening scene from the first draft was written so long ago that it was typed on a manual typewriter, which I carried around in much the same way that I now carry a laptop computer. I dropped this opening scene after a writer friend of mine said that she got sick reading it, disbelieving that anyone would ever drink out of a dirty horn. My SCA friends (even the women) laughed at her. Note: The first draft was written in third person and had a happy ending after the fight between Svenson and Eric.

     "If I don't die soon, I will have nothing left to live for," Eric muttered grimly.      "Punish someone else with your complaints," Thorin slowly growled through his heavy gray beard. "At least you still have hope."

This second draft opening scene was typed on a DOS computer in some obsolete text editor, shortly after EDLIN was retired, and was later converted to Wordstar version 1. Back then, I was an Offset Printer by occupation, and there was a strike at the paper mills around Seattle, so I spent 6 months on unemployment (eating mac n' cheese and top ramen noodles); that was how the second draft got typed into a computer, and when I decided against my original ending.

The third draft opening scene is lost; it was written first person, but entirely from Karl's perspective, and started as a dragonship was seen sailing into Demril Harbor from the parapets where Karl was standing guard. In this draft, many tiny details were added, such as: Farmer Tiller developed his relationship with Eloise's kidnapper. Also, the original battle on the Druid Hilltop was against a monstrous invisible creature; I never liked it. In this draft, the invisible terror was replaced with Skaldi.

One of my favorite scenes from the entire trilogy is the battle on the Druid Hilltop. I didn't want it to be a battle like happened before the Gates of Valhalla; I envisioned something more like Vincent Price's wizard's duel against Boris Karloff in that classic old movie "The Raven". I also wanted to show a side of magic seldom used, how illusions could be effective weapons. What I didn't want was a typical Dungeons & Dragons level 6 wizard/mage defeats a level 25 monster: "With his last ounce of magical strength, he cast the spell that saved them all."; I've read too many of those.

These early drafts also had a lot more-graphic sex; hey, I was young ...!

Remember those old black-and-white Tarzan movies? I have always been a huge fan of Tarzan; I own several of Edgar Rice Burroughs' audiobooks and listen to them a few times each year. In one of the first Tarzan movies, the British hunters purposefully mortally-wounded an elephant to follow it to the legendary 'Elephant's Graveyard', where a fortune in ivory tusks could be collected (of course, Tarzan stopped them). I used this theme for the companions following Eric to the 'Crack in the World'. My deepest respects and all honors to Edgar Rice Burroughs; ERB, you are the Master!

The conversion from Karl's POV to rotating through the main characters came later, after my first few year's attempts to publish failed. But the publishing world (back then) was very different than it is today. Readership was equally different. Back then, I heard every excuse why no one wanted to publish VIKINGS!; one novice publisher suggested that I throw out the first two books and make a stand-alone story out of book 3.

Obviously, I didn't care one wit for his opinion.

More stories later ...



From Dan Gimness

Great post Jay! Interesting to hear about your earlier drafts.

From Jay Palmer.

Thanks, Dan! Glad that you liked it!