The Devil’s Horse

I’m taking the title of this blog from the title of a book I’m re-reading: The Devil’s Horse: Tales from the Kalevala by Keith Bosley. Published in the 1960s and intended to be a children’s book, it’s a translation and re-telling in prose form of the Finnish epic poem called The Kalevala. This epic poem is actually a compilation of folk songs and oral tales gathered from the country people of rural Finland during the 19th century.

Since I’m not quite proficient enough in Finnish (yet!) to read the original Kalevala, I have to settle for English translations. This children’s book by Bosley was my first introduction to the world of Finnish folk tales and mythology. Bosley’s witty prose and often snarky dialogue add a touch of humor to this translation of ancient tales of heroes, evil witches, the land of the dead, and other mythological adventures.

Now, this actually does pertain to my writing habits, not just my reading habits. I’ve always been very inspired by ancient tales, mythology, and folk songs so old that no one knows when they were written or by whom. The fantasy trilogy I’m currently writing draws very strongly from The Kalevala. It’s not a re-telling of any of the stories found in The Kalevala; but in my novels, just like in The Kalevala, the reader will encounter a magic kantele or two, characters with names like Iku-Turso, and maybe even the ever-mysterious Sampo. And there’s even a fiery horse–the “devil’s horse” of the title.

The Kalevala still influences modern Finnish life, especially in the areas of art and music. In my story, some of the characters muse about this very fact. The story begins in modern-day Finland (and then fantasy adventure ensues from there). The characters (being Finnish, most of them) note the various parallels between their fantastical adventures and the cultural literary icon of The Kalevala. This is why I call my story “inspired by The Kalevala,” rather than a re-telling of it, like Bosley’s The Devil’s Horse.

Whether you’re wanting a story that’s “inspired by” or a “re-telling of,” I do recommend delving into the world of The Kalevala, if you have any interest in folk tales or mythology. A lot of Finnish music (both past and current) falls into both categories of “inspired by” and “re-telling of,” as well. A lot of my inspiration and writing motivation has come from Kalevala-influenced music; I’ll be blogging about that some in the near future.

And finally, a quick disclaimer of sorts–I am not Finnish, I have not been to Finland (yet!), and I am by no means a Kalevala scholar (there are such people as Kalevala scholars, and I have no wish to offend them by making any pretensions of being one). I’m just a big fan of mythology, epic poems, and folks songs in languages I don’t know. And I’m a writer who is greatly inspired by all of these things.

However, if someone reading this is a Kalevala scholar and can tell me exactly what a Sampo really is, that would be appreciated…

My imagination

I’m new to this blogging thing, but I’m not new to writing. I know that no one has heard of me as an author, but I’ve been inventing stories since I could talk, and writing down stories ever since I could spell. I have what many might call an over-active imagination; but even during bouts of low self-image attacks when I tried to squelch my imagination and live like “normal” people, I found that I never could manage to turn it off.

So here I am, finally deciding to embrace my run-away mind and all the worlds it creates. So now the question is, how well will that translate into a blog that people actually want to read? Or, better yet, books that people want to pay good money for and read? Well, I’ll never know till I try…

To start with, I should probably talk a bit about what I’m currently writing (besides this fabulous blog, of course). I’m working on a fantasy trilogy—just finished the first draft of book one, and now I’m in the first re-write phase and have started book two. Four hundred-plus pages and 175,000-plus words of fantasy adventure…so now my goal for the re-write is to shave it down by about 50,000 words or so. I’ve trimmed off about 1,000 words (i.e. about two pages) of unnecessary fluff so far. A good start, right?

The term “fantasy” can encompass a lot of things, so to briefly describe this trilogy, I would call it either cross-world fantasy or just straight up plain fantasy (as opposed to urban fantasy, high fantasy, etc). It’s set in Finland, and involves the northern lights, reindeer, some musical instruments, and a dose of Finnish mythology. Sound interesting?

I hope so! I’ll be blogging in the future about some of the research that I’ve done for this series (yes, research for a fantasy story), and some of the things that have inspired me. And maybe I’ll even show a few excerpts from the first book. Time will tell…