Villi Asgeirsson

Drafting ideas...

The Loss of Democracy

I have used this blog almost exclusively for talking about literature and my novels. That’s what this site is for. But I have to share this with you because some things must never be silenced. I put the text below in a comment somewhere, but I don’t want to lose it in the chatter that is Facebook. It’s dark and grim, but so be it. Here goes…

We are at a watershed in history. Dangerous times. There is so much misinformation (now with an official name, alternate facts), hate speech, doublespeak, polarisation. I’m not an expert in anything, but I did something as part of a research for a current project. I read the headlines on the cover of a newspaper from 1929 to 1940. Every single day, one after another. I experienced history like they did at the time.

Alþýðublaðið 1 September 1939

Alþýðublaðið 1 September 1939

It was chilling. We all know what happened. Hindsight made it a sinister read. Going from a relatively safe (if turbulent) world towards world war. But you know what? They knew what was going on as early as 1935. Maybe earlier. War was all but certain as early as 1936 and any doubt was gone by 1937. It was the lack of action that allowed it to happen. The few voices that shouted were drowned. No one nation or man was to blame. Everyone that stood by and did nothing contributed to what would happen.

What we need now are strong voices of people that can see the dark version of the future and will do anything in their power to steer us in the other direction. It’s easier to go with the flow, even take part in the march towards the edge, but we really don’t want to go there.

I’m not predicting a war. I hope we’re not that dumb. I’m predicting the stripping of civil rights and some kind of dictatorship. Because the moment we stop believing in democracy, we lose it.

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Reviews and indy authors

As mentioned in a previous post, my novels are self-published. This means I have no means of displaying posters in city centres or underground stations, they won’t be lying face up in bookstores and there won’t be any morning television appearances where I explain where the spark came from and what I’m trying to tell the world.

I can say anything I want here, I can share my Smashwords interview with you, I can bombard my Facebook page and let the gems rain down on you on Twitter, but you won’t see me or my novels standing proud next to you on a poster at the bus stop. My reach is limited. But all is not lost.

Review that darned book.

Review that darned book.

Reviews are the most effective way to advertise my work. I know quita few people have read my debut novel, Under the Black Sand. I know at least some liked it, as the reviews were good and I was told so by quite a few readers I’ve met in person. An advance reader told me Blood and Rain was even better than Under the Black Sand. She’s read them both. I can see where she’s coming from, as Blood and Rain was designed to be a much easier read.

So I’m asking you to post a review if you’ve read my novels and you like them. Anything will do, from “I liked it” to a huge dissection of the characters and what the story did for you.

Whatever you do, please post a review. Doesn’t matter where. We all have our favourite online outlets, whether it be Amazon, Kobo or whatever. Just post that review. It is the only effective way I have to have my work seen by a larger audience.

Thank you.

Here are a couple of reviews for Under the Black Sand. They range from a single sentence to a few paragraphs:

This crime novel swings from standard mystery to very different mythology. Very pleasing story that is tied up well. Most of the characters are very real but not sympathetic. No sweethearts traipsing through this tundra. Great melding of ancient and co temporary conflict.

An interesting tale.

I bought this book as I like stories based in Iceland. It sat in my ‘wish list’ for ages as I was unsure whether or not to buy. There were no reviews to guide me. However I am so happy that I did in the end purchase it.

This fast moving story is about a forceful businessman, set in todays post 2008 bank collapse Iceland, trying to get a large project passed a political and environmental restistance to his plan. As the story develops you get flashbacks to the past, his past, which eventually consumes his time. It is a story of love over the centuries, of struggle against hard times and also of murder. I cannot give to much away as this will ruin your enjoyment. If you like a slightly supernatural story this is for you. Very good.

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Blood and Rain – novel published

For immediate release.

Blood and Rain, Villi Asgeirsson’s second novel, is published on 3 March 2017. It is a historic novel, taking place in civil war Spain in 1937. The novel follows a young Icelander, Gunnar Ólafsson, as he tries to realise his dream of becoming a world famous journalist. You can find a short description of the novel at the end of this release.

Blood and Rain - paperback cover

Blood and Rain – paperback cover

The publishing of Blood and Rain is different from the usual model. It is self-published, meaning the author himself is bringing it to the world without any middle men (or women). As side effect of this is that the physical book will not be available in bricks and mortar bookstores. It will be available at some online retailers though and through the author’s website. The eBook will be available just about anywhere.

By making the route from author/publisher to the reader as short as possible, price can be kept at a minimum, as there are no upfront printing costs, no publishing costs or other overheads. This has allowed for an interesting experiment.

The price of Blood and Rain will be determined by the reader. If the reader deems the novel to be worth nothing, they will pay nothing. If they enjoy it or want to support independent authors, they can pay more than the advice price of €2.99,- It’s up to them.

After a month, the results will be published on the author’s site, with the amount of eBooks sold, what the minimum and maximum prices were, along with the average price paid. This should shed some light on what people are willing to pay for a novel by a virtually unknown author.

Blood and Rain is all about Anarchism, so letting the people decide seems only logical.

The novel will be available on Amazon and can now be pre-ordered through Smashwords, a distributor that will help make it available on all other platforms.

A short synopsis follows:

Gunnar was a young journalist in Iceland. Covering local news bored him and he was desperate to get out of this one-way street to oblivion. As Spain erupted into Civil War, he saw his opportunity, his road to greatness.

Barcelona was a city of colourful propaganda posters and interesting characters. Friendships were forged, they laughed, drank and fought together, but he would have to repay his debt. The price of entry into this war was betraying his friends.

Nothing would be the same after Barcelona burst into flames, on 3 May 1937. Nobody could be trusted, friends turned on each other and survival was the only thing that mattered.

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Becoming an Author

An overnight success is years in the making. I’m not saying I’m a successful author. Not in the commercial sense. I may have sold a few hundred copies of Under the Black Sand, but that is not commercial success. Blood and Rain is coming in just under two weeks and it may sell 10 copies. I have no idea.

I firmly believe though that I am a successful author. I have finished two novels. It is an achievement in itself, even if nobody was ever to read them. Thousands, possibly millions, of people dream of writing a novel but never pull it off. Never finish the task. I have done it twice. But I wasn’t really planning to become an author. Never thought I had the patience and the stamina to pull it off. So where did it start?

As a child, I wrote simple stories. I wrote half a novel in my twenties. Life is a Bitch. It was simplistic, naive, ultimately abandoned. As I entered my thirties, I wrote a novel called Plastic. It’s not horrible, but it’s not very good. Abandoned again.

I attended film school shortly thereafter. Wrote and directed a short film, The Small Hours. It was simple, the story tight, a horrible and surprising ending. Maybe I should adapt it into a short story some day. 2006 saw me writing and directing another short. Black Sand. I made the mistake of trying to create an epic short. I misunderstood the format, tried to cramp too much into the small space. A 20 minute movie gives you too little time to tell an epic story and a 20 minute short is too long.

Under the Black Sand - movie screenplay

Under the Black Sand – movie screenplay

There was more to Black Sand than could be told in a short film or story. After resigning to the fact that the film had failed the simplicity test, I did what I should have done from the start. I fleshed it out and adapted it into a feature film screenplay. My first notes date from January 2007 and the first draft of the screenplay was finished in July that same year. By April 2008, I had replaced the opening scene with the “film noir” murder scene that opens the novel. As 2008 came to a close, I had a solid version of the movie on paper. In late summer and autumn 2008, a couple of production companies in Iceland had expressed interest and were waiting for me to deliver a final draft.

October 2008 changed everything. The economy crashed and funds dried up. Slowly, they all pulled out. There would be no money available to risk making this movie. They were struggling and bigger names obviously would take preference.

I kept working on the screenplay and the last version is dated 18 May 2009. As the production companies had done earlier, I abandoned the story.

Somewhere around the beginning of 2010, I met a film director. He read the screenplay, liked it, told me the dialogue was more natural than most Icelandic works before it and the story was deep, well developed and intriguing. However, he confirmed that there was no money. He’d just finished his debut feature, financed by himself and other non-industry people and companies. He told me to adapt my story into a novel. It was a story that needed to be read and would fit the novel format perfectly. And having a novel made the making of a movie more likely.

I wasn’t sure. I had never finished a novel and didn’t believe I could pull it off. But I didn’t have a choice if I wanted the story to be told.

Under the Black Sand

Under the Black Sand

First treatment for the novel was drafted in April 2010. I started writing it in Icelandic but gave up. Didn’t find myself in it, the language was getting in my way. I quickly switched to English and slaved on. I copied and pasted the screenplay into Apple Pages and wrote up the scenes, one by one. It was a turbulent time in my life and it took a while before the work was finished. Writing long form in a word processor is tough, but I was saved by a new app. I imported the draft into Scrivener in 2011 and the writing process took off. The first draft is dated 29 March 2012. April saw a new draft and on my birthday, 10 May 2012 I had a final draft.

I had a few paperbacks printed and a few people read it. A lot of useful feedback helped me shape the story in the weeks and months following that draft. One suggestion caused me a huge headache. Somewhere along the way, I had made the decision to move the setting of the story from Iceland to Scotland. I felt stupid writing an Icelandic story in English and I was fascinated by being able to include burning witches and castles. One of the readers asked why I’d done this. It’s an Icelandic story and should be set in Iceland.

I resisted. I’d spent years on this thing and really didn’t feel like going back to it. But he was right and I knew it. Deep down inside I knew I’d made a mistake when changing the setting. So I went back to work.

A year later, in May 2013, Under the Black Sand was completed and my first novel was published. It was a long time in the making, mainly due to the many detours, but I was happy with it. Some say it’s a fairly hard read, although a satisfying one. Others have completely lost themselves in it and absolutely loved it.

It’s a bit odd, but after the publishing, I mostly abandoned the writing “career”. Under the Black Sand sat on Amazon and trickled onto a few Kindles. A couple of reviews were posted and I didn’t notice them until they were pointed out to me. They inspired me to get back to writing.

Blood and Rain - paperback cover

Blood and Rain – paperback cover

A year after Under the Black Sand, I had a rough draft of a new novel. Blood and Rain was inspired by a short film from 2011 (I may want to adapt The Girl from Nowhere into a short story). I spent a good year writing, polishing and by late 2015, I was done. Again a few readers read it, gave good feedback and again one reader asked a critical question. A question that made me rethink the last 3-4 chapters. The final draft was ready in early January 2016.

Something happened on the day he died. I have been a huge Bowie fan for decades. When he died, in January 2016, I put Blood and Rain down and had no desire to continue. It took 10-11 months to get back to it. By January 2017, the final draft was done and ready to be published.

Now that we are on the eve of Blood and Rain’s publishing, I’m wondering what to do next. I have no aspirations to make a movie, but won’t object if someone wants to adapt one of my novels. But writing books has grabbed me by the horns and that’s where I’m going from here.

So, what’s next? I have no idea. I have an idea for a sequel to Blood and Rain. I have already outlined potential series based on Under the Blacks Sand. I have already written about 70% of a novella called Hunger City, a dystopian story set in the world David Bowie created on his Diamond Dogs album. And maybe I’ll do something entirely different.

One thing is certain. I will write a third novel. I am a successful writer, whether anyone notices or not.

Blood and Rain is available on 3 March 2017

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Every Writer has a Voice

I was at work last night when a colleague asked if I already had the paperback of the new novel. It won’t come out for another two weeks, but I have my first print run. She took it, and after complimenting the cover design and format of the book, opened it on a random page and started reading.

‘This is so you,’ she said and laughed. And I was reminded of something I read a long time ago. All the books that have to be written already exist. All the stories in the world have already been told. But they have never been told with your words, your voice. Nobody has taken a situation and dissected it the way you would.

Blood and Rain - paperback cover

Blood and Rain – paperback cover

And that is why we write. Because our unique vision will shine a different light on an old subject. We will open people’s eyes and show them ordinary things from a perspective that is new to them. We will make them think in a way they haven’t thought before. Stretch their minds, broaden their vision, their understanding of the world.

And so it is important that our voices get heard, our words get read. We may be little more than creatures made of organic matter, but our memories and understanding of the world around us make us into individuals. Our opinions and actions make us who we are.

Being an author and influencing the way people think and see the world is a privilege and we should treat it with respect. We must, at all times, treat our readers with respect and always try to show them the world in a new light.

My new novel, Blood and Rain, will be published on 3 March 2017. It can be preordered from major online vendors already.

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Are Internet users thieves?

Back in 2007, I released my short film Black Sand onto the world. I used it as an experiment to see if Internet users really were the thieving scum some claim them to be. It’s been ten years and I can’t remember the details of how it all went. After searching my old blog (in Icelandic), I see that it was downloaded 799 times in the first two weeks. Ten users had paid for it, which made up 1.6% of total downloads (that’s what it says on the blog, I must have had better data back then). It doesn’t say much though, as this was the infancy of paid content online and many got in touch saying they would have paid for it if I’d included an Icelandic bank account. I believe the final numbers were slightly more favourable, but it’s been a long time and I can’t be sure.

Ten years on and I have another product. And I’m still curious. How has the Internet changed, have easier payment options encouraged more people to pay for content or are we mostly freeloaders that won’t pay unless we absolutely have to? Having seen iTunes sell billions of songs, Netflix and Spotify sell millions of subscriptions, I’m not convinced we are all thieves. I believe it has everything to do with ease of access and fair pricing.

Blood and Rain - paperback cover

Blood and Rain – paperback cover

BLOOD AND RAIN is my new novel. It’ll be published on 3 March but can be pre-ordered now. And the price? Whatever you want to pay.

The idea is to let potential readers decide what they pay for the novel. Go and get it, pay a euro, ten euros, nothing. It’s up to you. A month from now, I will write a new blog post and present the findings. How many people bought it, how many people paid, how many didn’t pay, what was the average price, what was the median income per downloaded item (if I can get my head around median).

I’m doing this because I have never believed Internet users were thieves. It’s just that the accessibility of content wasn’t always optimal. It was easier to download an MP3 than it was to get on a bus, go downtown and buy a record. And pricing. Sometimes I’m shocked at the prices of online content. Why do I pay €15 or more for an eBook when the physical book is similarly priced? My novels are available in print editions and I know that it’s not cheap to get them printed. Digital distribution costs next to nothing and we should, at least partially, pass the savings onto readers, listeners or viewers. Yes, us authors need to live, eat, pay mortgages, but what we save on printing costs shouldn’t only benefit us. It should benefit us all.

So, go get to it. Order the book if you like the synopsis. Pay whatever you like and watch this space. I shall be revealing everything a month from now.

Oh, and isn’t this a nice way to sell a book that deals with anarchism?

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Blood and Rain is (almost) here

It’s taken a while. It always takes a while. Writing a novel is an exercise in carefully selecting the right words. 50-100.000 of them. I could probably do it faster if I didn’t have a family and a job, but no matter. This is a milestone. It is a huge deal to write a novel. They say everyone has a story in them and if you’re lucky enough to be able to write the words, you may possibly end up with a coherent story to tell.

Doing it again is another matter altogether. Your story has been told. Now, come up with another one.

Blood and Rain - paperback

Blood and Rain – paperback

Blood and Rain was born out of two things. I wanted to see if I could do it again and I was curious about the Spanish Civil War. Like most, I knew very little about it. I knew it had happened, but little more. So I started digging. I imagined the people stuck there, in that time and place. We are all prisoners of the times we live in, but what was it like to be there at that time?

The horrors revealed themselves. The massacres, atrocities, people’s endless thirst for a good life and just society. I saw how women were embraced, how they gained equal rights, how the oppression of the church was broken back, but also how the churches were burned and priests murdered, how internal squabbles destroyed the dream of an anarchist utopia. I learned to appreciate Federico García Lorca and other characters caught up in the war. I learned about Guernica and how Spain was used as a testing ground for weapons to be used during the Second World War.

I had to create a character and put him in there.

Research is a wonderful thing. I learned about Biblia del Oso, the Bible of the Bear. The first Bible printed in Spanish, by a man that had escaped the Spanish Inquisition.

Heck, this project has inspired me to start learning the language.

Blood and Rain was a labour of love. I fell in love with Spain, Barcelona and the people of Catalonia. I hope the novel will be read and I dream of it being translated into Spanish some day.

Blood and Rain will be published on 3 March 2017.

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A Year in the Life

It’s been a year since I completed the first draft. As of 12 September 2015, Blood and Rain existed. The novel was scheduled to be published in spring 2016, but things happened.

Blood and Rain - concept cover

Blood and Rain – concept cover

First, the website went down and my hosting company killed the backup. This is why links to old blog posts on my social media sites are broken. It took a few weeks to fight them, but I lost. My blog was gone. I made some effort to salvage the site, but it’s still in ruins. Never set up a site with FatCow. Never. Absolutely don’t.

Then Bowie died on the day my review copies were returned. He was my idol, someone I looked to for inspiration. I spent the next few weeks clearing out the attic, going through my Bowie collection and disappearing into a dark world that was mine and mine only. Except when I needed to work, do groceries and things. Creativity wasn’t there, my story seemed irrelevant.

Then I created a book of Bowie lyrics for a closed group on Facebook. I also wrote a novella based on his album, Diamond Dogs. Got half way through it. I need to finish that project as well. It was well on its way to become an interesting novella.

And I was busy working with the Pirate Party in Iceland in the weeks before the pre-elections. My work there is done. Elections are at the end of October and it looks like it may turn out extremely well for the party.

A year flies by in an instant. It is interesting though, that I finished the final draft of Blood and Rain two days ago. Pretty much a year after finishing the first draft.

And so here we are. Now it’s time for a cover design and finding the best way to publish the novel. I leave you with a cover idea I coughed up at the time.

It’s good to be back.

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HUNGER CITY 4 – Diamond Dogs

Part four of the Hunger City saga is up and things are getting out of control. Hunger City is loosely based on Diamond Dogs, an album released by David Bowie in 1974.

Hunger City 4Luna crawled in the ashes and tried to get a view of the hall outside the shop. There was panic. Mutants running, screaming. Inside the shopping centre. Wasn’t that something new? They usually came in groups of three, four, maybe a few more. Killed a couple of freaks they’d run into in the streets and be gone. This was different. Luna counted nine of them and they shot anything that moved.

“Diamond Dogs are poachers and they hide behind trees. Hunt you to the ground they will, mannequins with kill appeal.”

The prophesy. David Bowie had seen this before it happened. The killers wore white masks and they hunted the mutants to the ground. It was massacre.

This was genocide.

Download the four chapters by clicking the links below. Feel free to leave reviews or suggestions.
1. Poachers Hill
2. We Are The Dead
3. Temperance Building
4. Diamond Dogs

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HUNGER CITY 3 – Temperance Building

It’s Friday and time for another instalment of Hunger City.

Hunger City 3Luna finds herself hunted by the poachers and her life is about to change forever.
As has been said earlier, Hunger City is based on the world of Diamond Dogs, created by David Bowie in 1974, which in turn was based on 1984 by George Orwell.

Part four will be published in a week. Until then, feel free to share this, spread the word and comment on it. Say what you think.

Get the chapters here:
1. Poachers Hill
2. We Are The Dead
3. Temperance Building

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