Choices - By Alexander Patterson
Publication date: December 8th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Richard Örlendr died over a thousand years ago. He lived in Norway during the Germanic Iron Age and trusted in the judgement of the gods. That is not to say he did not question them when they gave him a dragon, nor did he blindly follow their orders when they told him to go to war. But, when one god told him to kill another, Richard was unable to rely on their wisdom.
He had to turn to the Norns.
The Norns guide fate.
They shape it past, present, and future; however, it is not set in stone. A hero can change his fate. A hero can chose his destiny. The Norns can weave a new life, but what happens if the Norns are dead? Do heroes have greater freedom? Or are they locked into their destiny since there is no one left to weave?
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What made you want to write this?
I had been tinkering with the idea of a story revolving around a hatchling for about a year when I had the first of many surreal dreams. I walked out of a subway station, it was dark and the streets were deserted. Within half a dozen steps, I was attacked by a man. He demanded my money and as I fumbled for my wallet, the gun went off. I collapsed to the ground and experienced an Assassin’s Creed-esque conversation. Everything melted away save me and a small, blue dragon. He whimpered and begged me not to die. He told me if I died, then he would die with me. All my doodles, little scratches on math notes, everything that he was would disappear. No one would read about him. It would be as if he never existed. Then, I woke up and immediately went to my computer. It has been three years since that first dream, and I am relieved to say if I die now, at least my blue dragon will have the chance to live in the imagination of others.
What inspired you?
I cannot possibly list all of my inspirations here. Dozens of books, movies, and artists have captured my imagination and allowed me to create this work in turn. My largest inspirations, however, are songs. I followed the swells of John Powell through the crests of chapters, lay in beautiful melancholy with Ólafur Arnalds, and relieved stress with Taylor Swift and Imagine Dragons. And on top of these wonderful artists are dozens more. From Peter Hollens to Aeralie Brighton, each contribute to the world in ways I know I can never do. They create beauty from nothing but their imagination and talent. They are my inspiration.
Why are some of the names modern while the rest are Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse inspired?
Two of the characters, Richard and Aiden, have modern names. Truth be told, Richard and Aiden are not their real names, though I doubt I will ever talk about what those are. Choices is told as if it were Richard telling the story to a modern audience. Because of this, Richard is an unreliable narrator. He wants people to like him, and thinks he will be more relatable with a modern name. Everyone else can have their real name as they do not need to be likeable.
Why does Sweden not exist in your novel?
This is one of those cases where the short answer and the real answer are actually the same: the story works better without it. To be technical, Norge is a microcosm for the world if the Old Gods were real. It is a depiction of how I believe the world would work if monsters stalked the forests, and supreme deities imposed their will upon us. Thus, keeping Norge isolated from everything else helps me to create this setting. To be blunt though, Sweden simply does not have a role to play in the story and in a story where I go into enough frivolous detail it is far better to have a land simply not exist than to shoehorn in reasons for Sweden to not get involved. This decision was one of the many things which inspired me to write the Author in as a character.
Are you the Author?
Yes and no. I am the author in that I wrote Choices and in that I dreamed of the dragon ‘Aiden’ before writing Choices; however, I do not have any doubts about both the character of Richard and the falsity of the story. The Author in Choices is my way of looking into how writers develop stories. I do not mean this in a pretentious, ‘my writing is a philosophical inquiry into the nature of writing,’ sort of way –in fact Choices is far from a philosophical inquiry. What I mean is I thought it would be fun to explain my writing decisions to myself in a canonical format.