I’m not sure if I really realised until recently how much I like re-imagining old stories, but I really do. I’m reading A.S. Byatt’s new book Ragnarok at the moment and loving her take on many of the same myths that I work with in The End Of All Worlds.
When I was writing The End Of All Worlds I obviously read around the myths and delved into some of the sagas. An earlier plan to actually base the main story arc of the novel around a reimagining of one of the sagas came to nothing when I discovered that nothing fitted precisely with the story that I wanted to tell. Along the way though I did soak up characters and stories which I have drawn upon. It’s quite refreshing to read Ragnarok now and see in it another author’s take on those same stories and characters and realise that I did understand and use them correctly. In particular I’m currently enjoying the relationship between Odin and Fenris. I see so much of my own interpretation of the relationship between Ódinn and Fenrir, and between Gunnlaugr and Charles.
My next book, Mr Tumnal is even more referential to old stories and popular culture. I love it! As a reader I like a book which has a good, gripping, outwardly-facing story but which, when you re-read it and unpeel the veneer from it gives up other stories and thus other meanings and layers.