Villi Asgeirsson

Drafting ideas...

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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HUNGER CITY – 2. We Are The Dead

Two days ago, I published the first part of a new series. Hunger City takes place in the dystopian world David Bowie created after being denied the rights to create a musical based on George Orwell’s 1984.

Hunger City part 2Part two is named We Are The Dead. It is muttered by one of the characters. It is a song from the Diamond Dogs album and Bowie lifted it from a conversation in Orwell’s novel. I hope I’ll be able to do the two creative geniuses justice in the series. You tell me.

As readers of the first part may have noticed, part two was supposed to come out on 18 March. That has changed. It’s available now. I realised that I uploaded part one exactly two months after Bowie’s last birthday. Today is exactly two months since he left us. That must be honoured and remembered.

The schedule will continue as planned after this. One chapter each week. Part three will appear on 18 March, part four on 25 March, etc.

Get Part 1. Poachers Hill
Get Part 2. We Are The Dead

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HUNGER CITY – New Series

As many may know, I was about to finish my second novel at the beginning of this year. I sent the manuscript to six readers and gave them a deadline on 9 January to turn in their findings. I would then go about ironing out typos and inconsistencies, creating the final draft. Blood and Rain would be published somewhere in spring 2016. Nothing could change that.

Hunger City part 1Or so I thought. David Bowie has been a huge part of my life for more than 30 years. I studied his music as a teenager, immersed myself in his world. I was fascinated by his sounds, words and looks. He was different, somehow above the rest.

David Bowie died on 10 January this year. One day after the deadline and two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his latest (and last, we now know) album, Blackstar. I was devastated. It affected me more than I thought it could. A huge part of my life was gone. It was, literally, like losing a close relative.

January passed and I had no desire to revisit Blood and Rain. February passed and things were still not getting any better. I would look at the written pages and try to get into the world of Barcelona in 1937, but it felt distant. One day I will finish it, but first this…

We went to Venice on a mini holiday at the end of February. The masks were fascinating, the city beautiful. Something happened in my head. I remembered a line from a Bowie song.

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

And this.

But there’s a shop on the corner that’s selling papier mache
Making bullet-proof faces, Charlie Manson, Cassius Clay

The Diamond Dogs wore white masks and went hunting for mutants. A story begun to form in my head. The story of a girl that is forced to leave her home on Poachers Hill and go back into Hunger City to find Halloween Jack. The story is writing itself. I sit here and I type, but almost feel like it’s being channeled through me. I don’t want to sit here alone and work on this in solidarity. I want to share it with the world now. One chapter at a time. Get your feedback as we get through the story. Discover the mysteries of Hunger City together.

This is not the story as written by Bowie himself. It is not a copy of his storyboard. This is a story about a girl that lives in the world of Hunger City. And yes, Halloween Jack will make an appearance later in the series.

Enjoy. Here is the link to CHAPTER ONE. A new chapter will be published every week until the story has been told.

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David Bowie’s 100 Favourite Books

As the fallout from Bowie’s death settles, we collect our thoughts and try to make sense of his life and legacy. As I mentioned in my previous post, I fell in love with him in my teens. He was larger than life and he sang about feelings of isolation and anxiety. Something I was only too familiar with after the death of my father.

David Bowie ReadingI believe what turned me onto him wasn’t just the music, the costumes and whatever doomsday thoughts he dabbled in. I have always been curious about life, the universe and everything. Bowie was extremely well read and seemed to share this curiosity. In fact, I think his curiosity far exceeded mine. His ability to express his findings in art certainly did. He opened up strange doors that would never close again. My life was richer because of him.

Having been a fan for more than 30 years, I know his music inside and out. All periods, also the incredible and overlooked 1990s. I could go upon a stage and give an unprepared lecture about his life and influences. I have all his records and a few books on him and his art. While the world scrambles to get to know him – Blackstar is no 1 in 69 countries and his album sales rose 5000% in the week after his passing – I can sit back and enjoy what I already am familiar with.

Bowie BooksSo how can I get to know him better without reading another biography? How can I get into his mind and tap into that universe of his? The answer is, get to know his influences. As mentioned above, Bowie was extremely well read. There are countless photos of him reading through the decades. He posted his top 100 books on his Facebook page in 2013. I have read a couple of them, but most are a mystery. Many I have never heard of.

So here is how I’ll commemorate David Bowie in the coming year and beyond. Read the books he loved. Let him continue to expand my mind and horizon. His music may just take on a whole new meaning.

Only question is, where to start?

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David Bowie 1947-2016

I wasn’t going to write about this. I was going to lie down with headphones on like I did in my teens. The way I heard “Heroes” for the first time. Listen to the album he released last Friday. The album that was a part of his death. But I can’t. I can’t put it on. Not just yet.

It all seems so clear now. He looked old and frail in the videos to Blackstar and Lazarus. Unlike the videos he made three years ago. Subconsciously, I wondered how it could be. Consciously, I ignored it. Avoided the subject.

David BowieIt’s a wonder, really. Even his death was art. He had been ill for a year and a half. He went into the studio, knowing what was to come. He created a masterpiece, a record that surpasses everything he’s done since the 1970s. Yes, it’s better than Scary Monsters. He released the album on his birthday, giving it no chance to be a “dead man – huge hit” thing. It was a regular release on Friday. A baffling album that so painfully, makes perfect sense now. Two days later, he goes. Last single he released was Lazarus. Look up here, I’m in heaven. I have scars that can’t be seen. What did we know?

David Bowie was in control. He even designed our experience of his death.

My first real encounter with David Bowie was in 1983. I’m a Let’s dance kid. I heard the singles on the radio because they were the biggest thing around. My uncle borrowed the album and the Best of Bowie (the original 1980 K-Tel release) as he was learning the guitar. I don’t know if he ever played them, but I was hooked. Played Let’s Dance until it was engraved in my being. Then the Best of… realised his earlier stuff was way more interesting. The rest is history. I was a fan for life.

Me finding Bowie coincided with the passing of my father. I have always believed that it had something to do with it. He filled the void. Became so much more than just a rock idol. I felt like I understood him. I was relieved when he released Tin Machine. I remember listening to it, thinking “yes, you did it”! I followed his experimentations throughout the 1990s. Saw him numerous times live in the 1996-2004 period. Every album reinforced his genius, or our connection. I recognised passages from my 2013 novel in one of the songs on his new album. Did he read it, or had he influenced me to such an extent that I was thinking and writing like him? It’s bollock, obviously. I don’t believe he never knew I existed, but we spoke the same language. We were on the same page. He was always a step ahead, but I felt like I caught up with his thinking. I always understood him, or so I thought.

But this isn’t about me. This is about a legend. The man who fell to earth and sprinkled us earthlings with stardust. He is gone now. He will never surprise me again with his wit and he will never infect me again with his sense of wonder for the world and the odd things in it. Except when I go through his awesome catalogue and rediscover the gems he left behind.

A legend is gone, but he will live forever.

Everything has changed.

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