Guestpost Bill Blume + Giveaway

Taking Comfort in Ragnarök

Readers will embrace a sad ending. You need only look to how our favorite myths conclude to see it, and when it comes to the end of the world, you'll be hard-pressed to find a religion or mythology that can outdo the Norse.

The tale of Ragnarök delivers a climactic battle of heroes and villains. We're treated to sacrifice and conflict so great that victory isn't defined by who lives and dies, but by who lives a few heartbeats longer. In the struggle between the thunder god Thor and the massive sea serpent Jörmungandr, the former wins but lives only long enough to walk a mere nine steps more.

Ragnarök is a glorious, bloody end that brings definition to every other tale in the Norse Mythology. How many times are we offered stories of Loki's mischief and the monsters he spawned and left to think, "What if the other gods had put an end to him here? Would it prevent all that horror?" How much greater do those adventures become because of where it all concludes?

As a writer, one of the earliest lessons I took to heart was to know my story's end. When I start my stories armed with the knowledge of how they will finish, they are much easier to write. I recognize those important moments even as I write them. Sometimes I also see when an element to the story won't carry its weight and slash it within minutes of putting it on the page.

As soon as I started kicking around ideas for a tale about life after the world ends, my first instincts were to run to Ragnarök. I wanted to throw in as many nods as I could manage, from my heroes to my monsters. Ragnarök wasn't enough, though. My story needed a twist to it, something to set it apart from any other Norse-inspired story competing for a spot in the anthology The End Was Not The End. For that, I answered my instincts and went for a place that's all about life after the end. I went straight to Hell, searching through the elements of Dante's Inferno.

Oddly enough, what brought my story into focus wasn't Dante's writing, not directly. A single drawing inspired by his epic poem was what set me to writing "Waist Deep," an image of the devil trapped up to his waist in ice. From the moment I started writing the story, I knew the climax I was writing towards and finished my story very quickly.

Knowing my ending made "Waist Deep" a much easier story to write than it might have been otherwise. It provided a strange clarity whenever I encountered any difficulty along the way.

On the surface, the tale of Ragnarök offers a dreadful end to the Norse Gods. This last battle is filled with death and futility, but it carries a disturbing undercurrent of comfort. It protects us from uncertainty and charts the final destination. By comparison, our lives offer nothing certain about how we will gasp our last breath. Perhaps that's why even a sad end can be satisfying, because the alternative of the unknown is more dreadful.

The End Was Not the End: Post Apocalyptic Fantasy Tales (editor Joshua H. Leet)
Heroes prevail… usually. You sit close to a campfire, depending on its faint, flickering light to ward off the darkness. Yet the fire cannot hold back dark memories, thoughts of your fallen kingdom, of monsters across the land, of magic gone awry. Around fires like yours are seated other travelers, refugees from catastrophes none dare mention. Kings and queens huddle shoulder to shoulder with peasants, wizards share scraps with slaves, and each wishes only to be saved.

Some will be lucky, for heroes yet remain in their lands. For others, hope was not among the provisions stuffed into a pack when fleeing home. Eventually the silence of the night grows too heavy, and someone speaks. They tell a tale of loss, of foolish pride and tragic mistake. With bravery stoked by company, others speak up, each sharing their own sorrows. Before long, there are enough tales to fill a volume.

The conversations continue through the night, and by the time dawn has filtered through the gnarled tree limbs, journeys must continue, and one by one, the strangers trudge away. Their worlds may have ended, but they have survived another night. They will continue on, seeking to rebuild upon the ruins of great dreams. Their stories linger upon the air, drifting into time like the smoke from their extinguished fires, fed only by faint embers.

This book contains eleven stories set in worlds where an apocalypse has already come, but the characters you’ll read about aren’t quite ready for the end.

This anthology includes the following authors and stories:
Deedee Davies – “The Halls of War”
Desmond Reddick – “Blood and Fire”
Scott Sandridge – “Make Way for Utopia”
Jay Wilburn – “Twenty Year Plan”
Mandi M. Lynch – “Nightmares and Dragonscapes”
Magda Knight – ”The Stone-Sword”
William Ransom – “In the Hills Beyond Twilight”
Steven S. Long – “Blade of Fire”
Bill Blume – “Waist Deep”
Darra L. Hofman – “Ben”
Nathen Gallagher – “Story’s End”


Waist Deep Contest on Pinterest

Between now and May 29th, you can enter to win a free copy of The End Was Not the End. Author Bill Blume is hosting a contest on Pinterest asking people to post their goofiest end of the world scenario. For more details on how to enter, visit his website at www.billblume.net/contest.html or visit his contest board on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/billblume/waist-deep-contest/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bill Blume’s short stories have appeared in various anthologies and online magazines. He is also the chair on the board of directors for James River Writers. He lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife, two kids and dog. You can learn more about Bill and his other stories by visiting www.billblume.net.

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