My introduction to Louhi, witch of the north in The Kalevala, appears at @FolkloreThursday today. Folk familiar with my work know that she appears in my stories in Dream Book which were inspired by Finnish mythology in both The Kalevala and The Kanteletar.
Some helpful links: The best translation of The Kalevala; the only English version I know of The Kanteletar; here’s me playing a kantele so you know what the traditional Finnish lap harp sounds like and here’s a fantastic classical piece inspired by Louhi from Tomi Räisänen.
Of course you can get my collection Dream Book thanks to Fox Spirit Books. Stories, poems and a play inspired by the Finnish mythology and music that fills my head. Oh, and ancient rock paintings, too!
Hang around Twitter and see all the fun: @FolkloreThursday is a great opportunity to learn and share.
One of the important themes of Dream Book is the music of the kantele. Long time readers of this blog know well the Finnish lap harp. I have a couple of five string kanteles, a ten string made by Gerry Henkel that’s waiting for me in Dundee and a fifteen string one that I got back recently. I have improved my playing though I’ll never be a superstar, mostly thanks to the Maine Kantele Institute, where I even made a five string kantele.
It’s a wonderful instrument that’s great for meditative music. Unamplified it’s rather quiet so you won’t disturb anyone — though I am still longing to get a red electric fifteen string. One of the stories explores a little girl’s relationship to her kantele — and the imaginary friend she discovers with it (or is it just her imagination…?)
Here’s some samples:
My tonttu-inspired story “Confabulation” was featured in the last issue of New World Finn. Every issue of the journal has been full of stories and music and a celebration of Finnish and Finnish-American life. I am sad to see this publication end, but nothing lasts for ever, alas. Publisher Gerry Henkel was one of the first ardent supporters of my stories, publishing a number of the tales that ended up in Unikirja. That book is out of print, but soon will reappear as Dream Book from Fox Spirit, with a swank new cover by S. L Johnson and a couple new stories including “Confabulation” too. I’m glad I had a chance for a final farewell with NWF and Gerry.
Gerry also made my very first kantele, Louhi, so I have even more reasons to be grateful to him. I reconnected with a part of my past that I’d left behind when I left Michigan. Since then I have also connected with my cousins in Finland, a great source of joy. And does it get more joyful than music? Not only did I have fun playing my kanteles (yes, I have a few though not yet the red 15-string electric I want), but I was part of a group for a while, Louhi’s Daughters, and have expanded my musical fun with all the drumming and percussion that I love so much. But it never would have happened without Gerry.
Sisu and kiitos paljon, Gerry.
I’m allowed to use that because I have a Western coming out this week. Admittedly it’s a weird Western, but you wouldn’t expect any less of me, now would you? Some of you may be familiar with this story: now expanded into a stand alone novella. It still pokes at me to become the beginning of a novel instead — all in good time!
Dead folk are just about the last thing you want to see while wandering through the deserts of the great wild West. Things get a whole lot worse if they’re not the lying down kind of dead but the running around trying to take a bite out of you sort. Whatever’s got the corpses jumping is bound to spell a bad day for anyone unlucky enough to ride into town.
Out tomorrow from Tirgearr!
I read a bit from it when I was on the radio when I visited Dellani’s Tea Time with Eden Baylee and Meredith Skye. Lots of silliness ensued as well and it was great fun even though I did have a bit of a sore throat.
Do you like heavy metal bands that use Norse mythology for material? No? Well, then you’ll enjoy my write up of failed Viking metal band Ketlingr over at Pulp Metal Magazine. Hey, at the very least you must admire the dedication to the conceit that included making album cover art!
Check out my Inspirations play list of “Songs that Led to Stories” — no, don’t worry, it’s not all The Fall. It is kind of amazing to realise just how many song titles and lyrics I have swiped for story ideas. Even if I get them wrong a lot of the time. Misheard lyrics, always a rich vein to mine. I’m thinking of doing more video stuff — trailers or readings, maybe. What would you want to see?
Working on the next Hard-Boiled Witch required some research — by which I mean sitting in the Howff, soaking up the atmosphere and working out some practicalities. A hazy day: warm and misting: it gave my pictures an ethereal quality. I’m sort of using Dundee as the model for the city in the series, although it’s a rather different town in many respects — in part because I’m using old maps so things that are no longer part of the landscape show up. When the 2nd story comes out, there’ll be a special on the first. Keep an eye out for that!