Valkyrie

By William J. Meyer

A Valkyrie appears before four separate warriors in the hour of their death, seeking to recruit each for her own secret purpose.

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Buried deep within the mountain of Rúnhallr resides a mineral of great value known as valdrsten. Mining this rich resource releases a deadly fluid, an infectious gray humor which transforms drowning victims into a plague of sea-draugr. These monstrously altered men and women threaten to swallow Reidun, the city in Rúnhallr’s shadow responsible for the release of the sickly gray ooze. As the sea-draugr drown the populace to spread their vile essence, the grotesque host grows into a veritable army-- but one bent on more than the mere destruction of those who unleashed them.Meanwhile, a Valkyrie named Hildr visits four dying warriors of Reidun, challenging each about their internal shortcomings. But Hildr’s ultimate intentions are just as hidden as that of the sea-draugr, the threat of which she claims complete ignorance.

Through Hildr’s visitations, the theatrical trappings of the universe are slowly revealed, leading some warriors to question the very nature of their existence-- for what self-determination could each possess if their words and deeds are preordained and scripted? Could the struggles of their hearts simply be didactic entertainment for other beings, creatures neither gods nor mortals, but something partway between? And are these beings yet players of another sort in still other narratives, each tale unfolding, couched within another and another and-- ?

Hildr first visits Einarr-- an old, devoted defender of Reidun. The Valkyrie knows Einarr abandoned his daughter Kára, leaving her in the care of strangers, but can Hildr root out the reasons for this estrangement-- and bring father and daughter together again in reconciliation?

Hildr then visits Widsith, an old woman climbing Rúnhallr her entire life, seeking its summit for the fabled cure of the sea-draugr, a cure which legend deposited at the mountain’s impossible peak. With her own poisoned body fighting her, Widsith battles wits with the gangly tormentor known as Kollr, a twisted creature living alone in a cave haunted with storied shadows.

Then Hildr visits Aegir, a warrior lost at sea, recently sent from Reidun to intercept the city’s human enemies, suspected of using the sea-draugr as weapons. Hildr finds the starving Aegir huddling in a longship, on the verge of surrendering to bitterness and fear, unwilling to share the last of his food. Will the Valkyrie aid or hinder Aegir as he is unknowingly drawn toward serving the sea-draugr’s purpose?

Hildr’s final visitation finds the shield-maiden Nótt lost in a foggy wood, moments following her marriage to the warrior Dágr. As a mysterious adversary pours lies into Dágr’s ears, travelling elsewhere in the same woods, the new couple’s resolve is tested and, ultimately, their very faith in love itself. But Nótt passes to Hildr the great myth of the sea-draugr’s origins, and if she can stir empathy in the cold death-maiden’s heart, it could very well change the course of Reidun’s fate-- and expose Hildr’s connection to the revelation of not one but many worlds.

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  • William J. Meyer avatar

    William J. Meyer

    William J. Meyer is a writer living in Los Angeles, CA. While growing up in Wisconsin he told many stories from a young age centered around animals, superheroes and, sometimes, animal superheroes. He studied Radio-TV-Film at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh where he wrote and directed radio plays, short films, and two weekly television drama series which aired on local cable.

    William has written and directed for various media including the play THE BIRTHING PIT, a Gothic Romance at the end of the American Revolutionary War, which premiered at the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Praised for its use of poetry and rhythm, THE BIRTHING PIT has been called, "Entrancing," "Beautiful," "Haunting," "Ambitious," "Touching," "Macabre," and "Sexy." William also wrote and produced the fantasy-adventure podcast novel FIRE ON THE MOUND, awarded the 2014 Parsec Awards Best Speculative Fiction Story (Long Form), which follows a pair of siblings as they race to protect a legendary cottonwood tree from a fallen spirit and his dark apprentice.

    In preparation to write VALKYRIE, William experienced an intense nightmare at a young age which included a stampede of frenzied characters from Norse mythology. The dream ended when Fenrir the wolf bit off both of William’s hands in one swift motion. William awoke with a start-- only to discover his hands had been trapped under a gap in the headboard and had gone completely numb. Although Fenrir appears briefly in the novel VALKYRIE, he is not named, perhaps as some sort of petty retribution.

  • “Then tell me,” the woman commanded. “For if your mind empties, and the thoughts are not gathered, the reasons will be lost forever. Can Thought fly where there is no Mind? And can Mind perch where there is no Thought?”

    “Bah,” moaned Einarr. “Flying and perching? Mind and Thought. Muninn and Huginn. That’s what you mean. Odin’s ravens. Don’t be so clever if you want to appeal to both pit and gallery. Neither thrall nor farmer nor jarl have time for riddling. And here we are, in the pit. You want to talk to me? All right. So climb down. Down into the muck, with me-- If I can’t convince you to leave.”

    “Not the most pleasant words I’ve heard. But then, where those two gather, there is often an unkindness.”

    Einarr closed his eyes in exasperation. “This chatter is ill-suited for my tent. Is that how you waste your days? Such mystifications?”

    “How did you waste yours?”

    Einarr shouted. “I wasted nothing! I defended my home and my people with the last drop of my own blood! I was out there not an hour hence killing for my chieftain! That raiding party is no more. If I wanted a final crucible, I would summon the patron of thieves and invite him to steal my dignity. I would battle his wits, not yours. Unless you are him in woman guise? No, I wish to-- to-- leave in peace and ignorance.”

    “I pray that great thief will not show his face here.”

    “Oh, you pray that? Take heed, the hearing of the gods is turned this way and that, and there is no telling. No Loki? Did he not fatigue my ancestors? If not me, he will befog my progeny, surely.”

    “Do not say his name, if I can trouble you to keep him anonymous.”

    Einarr grinned. “Oh, your mettle is porous now, is it?”

    “If we must speak of him-- He gave birth to wolves, serpents, and lies. What did you give birth to, Einarr?”

    “Go.”

    “Why did you leave? Tell me.”

    “If I tell you, will you go?”

    “Tell me,” answered the woman.

    “Would it really matter if I crossed the threshold of this world without you knowing? Am I not allowed a single secret intact? The fact is, I left. Will knowing why change anything?”

    “The threshold before you is but one of many. Your secret, as you call it, may not only be a burden in this world, but also the next. And in other worlds, besides.”

    “More than two? I do not like the sound of that.”

    “Einarr, every thought is a new world.”

    “Come now!”

    “Not of equal veracity, I admit, for secondary worlds depend on the primary for shape. Offspring can be different, but in them you will find clue of their parentage.” The woman waited a moment before adding, “There is a world where you did not abandon Kára.”

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  • 7th April 2019 "Valhalla" Audio Drama

    My novel VALKYRIE is based on a short play I wrote a number of years ago called "Waiting to Die in a Tent, A Few Thoughts on Valhalla." In that story the Valkyrie Hildr was born. She appears during sunset in the battlefield tent of a dying warrior named Einarr and provokes him to reunite with his estranged daughter Kára.



    After I finished the play I began to wonder-- what happens next?

    And…

    20th February 2019 Maps!

    I like to draw maps to keep track of my characters. That’s the primary function of these sketches. Where is so-and-so and when? 

    I thought it’d be fun to show you the current progression of maps I drew for VALKYRIE. 

    Click on the images to see larger versions!



    Sketches 1-3:

    Here are some early doodles, done in the margins of the book’s manuscript. The “tree” is Yggdrasil, the World…

    14th November 2018 Kollr, the Cave-Dweller

    In the previous two Valkyrie posts I introduced you to Einarr and Glyrna, two characters not in the booktrailer. Here's a third such character-- named Kollr!

    Click on the drawing to see a larger version.



    Kollr is a miserable but whimsical fool living in a cave on the side of the mountain Rúnhallr. He saves Widsith's life, or maybe she saves his. In writing Kollr for the book, I was inspired…

    28th October 2018 Glyrna, the Shield-Maiden

    In the next two Valkyrie posts I'd like to introduce you to two more characters not in the booktrailer.

    Click on the drawing to see a larger version!



    This is Glyrna, a warrior lost as sea. Glyrna climbs aboard a ruined longship where she finds an injured Aegir, one of the main protagonists in the book. The two warriors meet following a long battle at sea between the people of Reidun and…

    19th October 2018 Einarr, the Itinerant Father

    In the next three Valkyrie posts I'd like to introduce you to three characters not in the booktrailer.

    Click on the drawing to see a larger version!



    First we have Einarr, a warrior of the city Reidun. His father left his family many years ago, and for a long time Einarr held on to the hope he might one day return. But now Einarr is an old man, and has fought his final battle. Or so he believes…

    24th September 2018 Trailer Costume: Hildr

    And now the final wardrobe post from the Valkyrie booktrailer! This is Hildr, portrayed by actor Keetin Marchi. 

    Hildr recruits dying warriors for her own secret purpose. I can't wait for you to meet Hildr in the book. She was a fun character to write. Impossibly old, determined, cunning.

    The booktrailer's wardrobe styling, hair and makeup were created by Keaghlan Ashley, based on my character…

    28th August 2018 Trailer Costume: Nótt

    And now-- here are some wardrobe photos of Nótt, portrayed by actor Camber Donahoe, from the Valkyrie booktrailer.

    Nótt travels through a foggy wood, where she encounters Hildr the Valkyrie as well as a confounding character I shall not name at this time. I hope you enjoy meeting Nótt in the book!

    Artist Keaghlan Ashley did the wardrobe styling, hair and makeup for the booktrailer back in January…

    30th July 2018 Trailer Costume: Aegir

    Here are some wardrobe photos of Aegir from the Valkyrie booktrailer, portrayed by actor Christopher Karbo. I've been fortunate to direct Chris in a couple short films, and I can't wait to work with him on stage some day.

    Aegir battles the draugr at sea for many years, and hides his involvement in his human enemy's plans from Hildr the Valkyrie. Aegir's storyline is interwoven with another character…

    17th July 2018 Trailer Costume: Widsith

    Here are some wardrobe photos of Widsith, portrayed by actor Maia Kazin, from the Valkyrie booktrailer. I had the distinct pleasure of directing Maia in a play and she is amazing! It was special to see her embody Widsith, one of my favorite characters.

    Widsith spends her whole life climbing the mountain Rúnhallr, searching for a cure for the plague of sea-draugr. I can't wait for you to meet Widsith…

    8th June 2018 Book Excerpt: Hildr

    In this excerpt from my novel Valkyrie, Hildr battles the plague of the sea-draugr. 

    Read by Keetin Marchi.

    29th May 2018 Book Excerpt: Nótt

    In this excerpt from my novel Valkyrie, Nótt shares the legend of the blue flower with the Valkyrie Hildr.

    Read by Camber Donahoe.

    22nd May 2018 Book Excerpt: Aegir

    What horrors has Aegir seen? In this excerpt from my novel Valkyrie, Aegir tells the Valkyrie Hildr about his battle at sea. But will he reveal his secret connection to the sea-draugr?

    Read by Christopher Karbo.

    16th May 2018 Book Excerpt: Widsith

    I like stories within stories-- In this excerpt from my novel Valkyrie, Widsith learns of "Urdgrímr and the Cave." Will the story convince her that her quest is futile?

    Read by Maia Kazin.

    9th May 2018 Chatting about Hildr

    Hello there! Here’s my final chat with an actor from the Valkyrie trailer. In this brief video I speak with actress Keetin Marchi about the Valkyrie Hildr! If you missed the other chats, you can check the Updates tab to find them.

    Also, you can find the transcription of this video interview below.

    If you’d like to tell your friends and family about the book, please share this blog post with…

    1st May 2018 Chatting about Nótt

    Hello hello! I have another brief chat about a character from my book Valkyrie. In this third chat, I speak with actress Camber Donahoe about the shield-maiden Nótt!

    You can find the transcription of the video interview below.

    We’re about a third of the way through the crowdfunding campaign, and if you’re excited about the book, please tell your friends and family about Valkyrie. If you’d like…

    20th April 2018 Chatting about Aegir

    Hello again! The day before we shot the Valkyrie trailer, I sat down with the actors to briefly discuss their characters. In this second chat, I speak with actor Christopher Karbo about the sea-warrior Aegir!

    You can find the transcription of the video interview below.

    Also, if you’d like to tell your friends and family about the novel Valkyrie, please share this blog post with them! And if…

    13th April 2018 Chatting about Widsith

    Hello again! The day before we shot the Valkyrie trailer, I sat down with the actors to briefly discuss their characters. In this first chat, I speak with actress Maia Kazin about the mountain-dwelling Widsith!

    You can find the transcription of the video interview below.

    Also, if you’d like to tell your friends and family about the novel Valkyrie, please share this blog post with them! And if…

    23rd March 2018 Inspirations

     

     

    Valkyrie has many inspirations. And like the stories within the novel, mashed and remashed, told and retold, these inspirations liquify into a tonal bath. So, for my first blog post about the novel, I thought I'd share a few of these inspirations with you to convey that tone.

    The earliest inspiration, chronologically speaking, would be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned. This…

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