The Ink Splat is our monthly activity letter filled with inspiration sparking challenges and resources guaranteed to inspire your creativity. In this Ink Splat, the book and author spotlighted is The Runaway By Kate O’Hearn along with an author interview! Submit a response to a challenge and you may have a chance to be published online! What are you waiting for?
The Challenge: Flying High
As writers, we’re often told to write what we know. But sometimes what we want to write about doesn’t exist yet! For this month’s writing challenge, come up with your own mythical creature, object, or place (or pick an already existing one) and write a story about it!
Do a little digging:
When writing about mythology, there’s a lot of history and information behind the story. Try doing some research into a myth or two that interests you, whether it’s Greek, Roman, Norse, anything! Try using that information in your story.
Submit your response HERE!
The Runaway By Kate O’Hearn
In the world of Asgard, living among Odin, Thor and Loki are the Valkyries. Norse goddesses, reapers of souls from human battlefields – they have the power to cause death with just one touch. Fourteen-year-old Freya is a Valkyrie – but she has not followed in the footsteps of the legends before her. She has been to the World of Man to befriend humans – and not to reap their souls. Now she and her best friend, Archie, must return to the World of Man on a new quest to track down the runaway Valkyrie of myth – Brünnhilde. But not all is as it should be, nor is their task as easy as they first expected. Dark secrets are uncovered that will send them further than they every imagined. Not trusting Loki, but unable to go without his help, Loki leads Freya, Archie and Orus (the raven), to Utgard – Land of the Frost Giants and Trolls. Here Freya discovers an old enemy with a personal grudge against her. Captured, wounded, and in danger of starting a war of EPIC proportions, Freya and Archie will face the greatest challenge yet.
About the PROCESS:
“Writing is so much more than just writing. It can really help you get your thoughts in order. And, it is a heck of a lot of fun! Of all the things I have done in my life – and there have been a lot of wacky things, the best was always writing. I can’t imagine doing anything else these days.” – Kate O’Hearn
Q: Did you know who Freya was the moment you started writing or did she slowly develop?
A: Actually, I didn’t know her at all. I had an idea of the kind of personality I wanted her to have, but nothing concrete. The one thing I wanted to be sure of is that she wasn’t a carbon copy of Emily, the lead character in my Pegasus series. This is why I wanted to write the Valkyrie series. In Pegasus, Emily was an ordinary human girl growing up in New York City when something extraordinary happens to her. So, when it came to Freya, I wanted to do the opposite. Have an extraordinary girl try to deal with what we know as the ordinary world. So she would experience everything we take for granted, with new, startled eyes.
As for her personality, that was strangely difficult for me at first. When I take on a story using mythological characters, I do a lot of research on the full mythology. But for Norse myths, there really wasn’t a lot written about girls. The Greek myths have loads of female gods and characters, but Norse mythology focuses mainly in the men. Another thing, they are much harsher. Considering where the myths come from and the difficult life the Nordic people lived, it’s no wonder their characters were harsh. But it makes for difficult writing. So when I started to write Freya, she had to be on the harsh side. But then gets softened by her friendship with Archie.
This change in her developed slowly as I got to know Freya and spent time ‘in her head’ as it were. I got to know her and understand her better. It’s strange, many writers say this and it’s true. Our characters seem to have a life of their own, and we as writers merely record what they tell us.
Q: Do you do a lot of planning before you begin writing, or do you just sit down and write?
A: When I start to write, I only have a rough idea of the story I want to tell. But it’s very rough! It’s only when I start to write that things come to me. Which is why I said earlier, when getting to know Freya, it was like she was telling me what to write. Sometimes, a character will say something that will start an idea in my head. I do know that sounds crazy, but when you are really into writing a scene, I promise it’s true – sometimes things get written that you hadn’t planned to write – which lead to other things being said or done, and this takes a story in a lot of directions. Here is an example: In Valkyrie 1, I have Freya meet the head angel of death, Azrael. He was only supposed to be a simple, one book character with a very small part. But then I noticed the friendship forming between him and Freya and suddenly, he has a much bigger role and becomes a major character in book 2, ‘The Runaway’. That was never planned, it just happened. Now Azrael is one of my favourite characters. And Loki too. He was supposed to be a small player, but I just loved his mischievous ways, and he took a bigger role.
About the AUTHOR:
“Try it. You don’t have to worry about being good! Write for yourself. If you enjoy it, others will too!” – Kate O’Hearn
Q: What attracted you to the fantasy genre?
A: Do you know, I really don’t know. But in all honesty, I can’t conceive of writing anything else – what’s even stranger? I tend not to read fantasy books! I like adventure/thrillers. I was once asked to write a pony book and I immediately thought of Pegasus. But then the editor said, ‘no, just about ponies’. I said, ‘no wings?’ and she said, ‘no, just an ordinary pony’. It was at that moment that I realised, I couldn’t think of a story with just a pony. If she had said I could put a ghost, or fairy, or even a monster in it, it would have been fine. But just normal kids and a normal pony? No. I realized I couldn’t do it. But I was so grateful to be asked, because that is what got me thinking about Pegasus. And from there, the Pegasus series was born. After that, it was one fantasy story after another.
It is said that you must write what you love. I can say that it’s true. You must write what you love, not what someone tells you to write. If I had tried to write that ordinary pony story, I am sure it would have been awful, because it wasn’t something that interested me. But if I could have put a ghost in it… who knows!
Q: What’s your favorite fantastical creature?
A: That question isn’t as easy to answer as I first thought it would be. OK, if you had asked me this question 5 years ago, the answer would have been quick and easy. My favourite fantastical creatures were mermaids. All my life, they were my favourite and are still on my top 5 list – Think about it, they live in the ocean and have whales, dolphins and sharks for friends! But having spent years writing the Pegasus books, and now the Valkyrie series, I am torn between Pegasus and a Valkyrie. But you might notice, both of them fly. Oh, and we can’t forget dragons. I love dragons too. Guess you might say, I love them all. But it really is a toss-up between Pegasus and a Valkyrie. But if I had to choose only one, it would probably be Pegs. Though I’d love to be best friends with Freya and Maya.
Q: Any advice for young writers?
A: My advice to any author, young or old, would be to just write! Yes, I hear you moaning that you don’t know what to write about. Or where to get started… I know you’re saying that because I used to say the same thing. So let me tell you a story – and this is how I started to write with the view to getting published.
Ok, I had just moved to France to work in my family’s giftware business. I didn’t speak much French, so watching television was not fun! Radio was the same and making friends was difficult as we couldn’t communicate. (This was before the Internet). So, feeling miserable, I wrote to the producer of my favourite TV show, called “Quantum Leap” (it was about a man, Sam Beckett, who was trapped in time. Each episode, he would leap in to another time and have an adventure. At the end of the episode, he would be gone again.) So I asked the producer if he could send me the series on videotape. I explained that I was living in France and didn’t really speak the language and really wanted to enjoy his show. Much to my surprise, he wrote back to me – explaining that for legal reasons, he couldn’t send the tapes. Instead, he sent several magazines called ‘Fanzines’. These were collections of stories written by fans, which had adventures written around the show. I read these fanzines and some of the stories were amazing, some not so great. But when I finished the last story, I got thinking, I could write one of those…. So I did. In fact, I wrote two Quantum Leap stories and both of those got published! (I got the publisher’s address from the magazine the producer sent to me) After they were published, I was bitten by the writing bug and have been writing ever since.
So my advice to you would be, if you want to write, but aren’t sure what you want to write, try writing a short story around your favourite TV show or even a favourite book. That way, you already have the characters you need, (but feel free to add more) and you know the setting. The rest is up to you!
More about Kate O’Hearn!
“And finally, if anyone out there is inspired to write, please, please, follow your dream. You can start at any age and just keep going. And if you’re really lucky like I’ve been, you can actually meet some of your characters!” - Kate O’Hearn
If you enjoy The Runaway, the second novel in Kate O’Hearn’s Valkyrie series, check out some of her other novels! Herm’s Secret is about mermaids and humpback whales, while Shadow of the Dragon is about knights, dragons, and the rise of a hero. The things all of her stories have in common is high adventure with a strong hero, and lots of mythological creatures!
Thanks again Kate O’Hearn!