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Vikings & Hob-Goblins

During the last week of December I have been researching mostly by accident Hob-Goblins and by design Vikings and their respective histories, customs and superstitions around the world.

I have had a Viking story brewing in me for decades but with no firm story grasped and I have had some new ideas regarding this, but because I know very little about Vikings as a collective, I felt that some research was necessary.  I found it weird that an idea I had about Odin actually clashed with mythological truth, it must have been something I learned once but had forgotten it.  The bit about the 8 legged horse.

As a teenager I ventured into spirituality first by learning about Norse witchcraft, the runes, the drumming, the festivals etc., but I never learned more about the mortal Viking history, like I am doing now.  I did know about their war traditions and their units, such as the screeching women and the berserkers through a game I used to play called Rome Total War.  Regarding Viking warfare and general ancient warfare, I would fare well in writing about it because of the amount of historical research I’ve done throughout my life regarding the subject as well as coming from a military family background.

By and large though, I know more about Spartan and Roman day to day life than I do the Vikings.  Which is why I am disappointed to find that the books I am finding at the library are mostly mythological.

I know it sounds funny to think about it, but I have learned more from watching “The Hairy Bikers” and “Gordon Buchanan’s” ventures in Scandinavia regarding food and dance than anything I’ve learned in books.

In fact, even more laughable is the fact that it is easier to learn more about the superstitions of the Hob-Goblin or Santa Claus than about the ancient Viking people.

There is one thing I have learned though and that is in Viking times it was a derogatory term to be deemed “A Viking” for it literally means “PIRATE”.  This was very interesting to learn.

I am learning accidentally about Hob-Goblins because of a book my son was gifted by his friend Alice.  This is the fourth calling to learn about Hobs and house folk in the past 18 months, something is pulling me towards them.  I have no idea what it could be, I have no idea of any story interest I might have in writing about them… yet.  But something is definitely trying to get my attention with this little creature.

I am a very spiritual person, so I believe in little folk like these and recently when I have been reading about them more actively and reading snippets out loud for my son Henry to overhear, I have noticed that the whole house is becoming more accident prone with food and drink and according to legend, this is a sign of a hungry or thirsty and very ignored little house hob.

Funnily enough, along with this, my husband has discovered that his tea is going down faster these days.  So now we have started to make an extra cup of tea in the kitchen and it seems to have stopped the accidents and weirdly enough an inch in the cup has gone down!

I have a lot of experience with all kinds of spirits in my life.  I have never done drugs and I rarely drink, if there is anything to wander about it is my sanity I suppose – but why do we shrug such things off and think someone nuts when little jewels like this are revealed?  Why is it so hard to believe in little fair folk and ghosts but it is fine to believe in God?  Really now, what is the difference?  Oh and for those hard-core atheists, just remember you can’t see ultra violet light and infrared without technology but it exists doesn’t it?  I rest my case.

I was told by a friend recently that my little forays into the spirit realm should be a subject for my blog, because it aligns with fantasy and horror for many people.  This is why I am starting to mention such things.  It has always been a part of me; I just never put it in the blog. 

Hob-goblins in particular have always been something I have been nervous of because of the stories of boggarts and trolls, though trolls are very different to boggarts and hob-goblins.  The nervousness stemmed from a horror movie I watched when I was little and it gave me nightmares, but these days I realised the movie was actually a fantasy comedy and I can’t help laughing every time I see it now.  “Troll” where I believe the real first Harry Potter came from!  A young boy’s sister is kidnapped into fairy world by an evil troll who was formerly a wizard who went bad and got turned into a troll as punishment by his former fiancé – the witch known as Eunice of whom the boy known as Harry Potter befriends in order to save his sister and all his neighbours in their apartment from the evils of the troll unleashing fairyland into the mortal world once again.  The movie was made in 1986 and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Obviously also, hob-goblins are found in the wonderful movie “Labyrinth” starring the late David Bowie, one of my most favourite all time fantasy movies where a young girl called Sara makes a wish she will soon regret, regarding her baby brother Toby.  The King of Goblin City descends upon her and makes a bargain that she has just 13 hours to find her baby brother in his labyrinth of surprises and dangers or else her baby brother will become a goblin forever!  A wonderful story, full of inspiration!

I wonder what my mind will make of these Hob-Goblins someday… I can’t wait to find out!

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My fantasy knowledge

My to read list is huge on Goodreads.com, and I have one book left from the library that I must read before the 4th of July, it hasn’t been read thoroughly yet because I tend to borrow the maximum each time I visit the library, note bibliophile present. The last book I have from the library that’s half read at present is “H.P Lovecraft’s book of horror” an anthology of 21 classic short horror stories which includes with my personal rating;

Supernatural horror in literature essay/introduction by H.P Lovecraft 9/10
The signalman by Charles Dickens 8/10
The house and the brain by Edward Bulwer-Lytton 8/10
The body snatcher by Robert Louis-Stevenson 2/10 (low rating yes, shock horror)
The spider by Hanns Heinz Ewers 10/10
The foot of the mummy by Theophile Gautier 9/10
The horla by Guy De Maupassant 8/10

The rest have yet to be read and they will include;

The fall of the house of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
The dammed thing by Ambrose Bierce
The upper berth by F. Marion Crawford
The yellow sign by Robert W. Chambers
The shadows on the wall by Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman
The dead valley by Ralph Adams Cram
Fish head by Irvin S. Cobb
Lukundoo by Edward Lucas White
The double shadow by Clark Ashton Smith
The mark of the beast by Rudyard Kipling
Negotium Perambulans by E.F Benson
Mrs. Lunt by Hugh Walpole
The Hog by William Hope Hodgson
The great god Pan by Arthur Machen
Count Magnus by M.R James
Followed by the afterword by Lovecraft and the literature of cosmic fear:

Yesterday I finished Coraline by Neil Gaiman and other stories. Which were very compelling reads and I am what a readers quiz calls a polygamous reader, therefore I started reading H.P Lovecraft’s anthology before Coraline’s anthology, but I was so much more taken with Neil Gaiman than I was with H.P Lovecraft’s compilation, that I literally abandoned H.P Lovecraft until there was no more Neil Gaiman to read.

If I am having a good day with my health on the days I visit my work advisor I usually treat myself to a book or three at the local charity shops on the way home, it’s a habit I can’t get out of; unfortunately yesterday there were quite a few I liked, in fact, I would have by choice bought home five books, but I only had enough money for two. The ones I found and bought home were books three and four of the Eragon series (the inheritance cycle) by Christopher Paolini. I have never watched the movie Eragon and nor have I ever read the books. I had the first two books at home, never read and abandoned on the shelves until I could get the complete set and now I have them I am thrilled. Unfortunately, knowing me, it will probably be 3+ months before I start reading them, because I am currently reading 26 books according to my goodreads.com currently reading list.

That doesn’t need to get any longer does it? I am I have to start on the fifth to fourteenth book of the Wizard of Oz series before I can think of moving onto another series, also I have the last book of the Fifty Shades of Grey to read as well.
Oh the life of a bibliophile is far too short!

It’s stupid to think that I get through an average of 1 to 4 books a week and that my “to read” list is currently 4647 and that expands by no less than 20 books per week. It’s ridiculous, even if I was immortal and glued my arse to a chair and read 24/7 I would never ever catch up in reading unless there was a total ban for thousands of years of new material being published!

I hope in the future there will be a little chip inside people’s brains where you can download information immediately by the press of a button; I would opt to be a literary and historical know-all and I would also want to be proficient in all creative mediums and telepathy.

I get huge bouts of depression because I can’t do more than one thing at once. I want to read, but I have to go through a painstaking process of choosing which book gets my attention at that precise moment; but then I want to paint or write and I am sitting back thinking, well one things has to be put on hold, which will it be? What shall I do? I have so many things to write about and so many ideas, that I can never knuckle down and write them, because as I am writing I am being flooded with too much future work, that I surrender and do nothing.

I don’t suffer from writers block, I suffer from writers flood and because of that, I don’t write a majority of the time. Because it sends me mad, I write gibberish and I lack focus, because I think as I concentrate on other things, many things at once.
You can probably see this problem in my updates here.

I am a huge fantasy fan, but I don’t know much of the most commonly known fantasy books and movies because I refrain from watching or reading them if they’re popular, because they normally end up being frustrating commercialised entities that are constantly pushing out new material every few months. When I sit down to read a book and it’s a series, I like to think I have the whole series ready on my shelves before I start. If there are more books in that series coming out months later, it infuriates me, because I don’t always remember what happened in the books in great details and I do not like re-reading books if I can absolutely help it; (too many books and so little time).

The books I have not read and the movies I have not watched so far, that are popular in fantasy and family genres.

Eragon series books and movies
How to train your dragon books and movies?
The books after Harry Potter’s Goblet of Fire haven’t been read yet
The movies past Harry Potter’s order of the phoenix
Once upon a time TV series
Supernatural TV series
The lion the witch and the wardrobe book
Narnia books
Final fantasy games
World of Warcraft games
Game of thrones TV series and books
Blood ties TV series
Twilight movie and books
True blood TV series and books
Nanny McPhee and the big bang
The Terminator movies
Maleficent movie

So as you can see, I have not watch nor read the biggies; but I do know a lot of fantasy that gets people scratching their heads at me and wondering what the hell I am talking about.

Those include;

The Gor series of books
Diary of a wimpy vampire books
The Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman (though they are becoming popular)
The weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner
The play your own adventure books and fighting fantasies of Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson
Nightmare TV series
Raven TV series
Highlander TV series
The fact there are 14 stories of OZ from the Wizard of OZ and that nobody knows the world completely, that is a complete bafflement for many
The Deptford mice books
Troll movie 1986
Critters movies
Tremors movies
The Disney movie – the gnome mobile
Shirley Temple’s movie – the blue bird
Angels in America movie
Dogma the movie

So, go feast yourself on these so-called unheard of books and movies.

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Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman

Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman
Reading about trolls since childhood has always made me a little nervous, because of the childhood nightmares I had about bridges and what lived under them – this story was read with reluctance, but I am proud that I read it because it was a wonderful tale.

I loved the twist of why the troll existed and how it is trapped in its magical world and had literally little choice in devouring lone stray children nearby its lair and how it can be freed if he found someone willing to help him – little would be willing to help him so they usually succumbed to a terrifying fate.

I love worlds like this, where monsters aren’t really as monstrous as they seem, that they too have lived through something terrifying and aren’t what they seem. Though it is easy to sympathise with the troll in this story it is still a terrifying creature nonetheless.

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Smoke & Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

I read this book in January 2013; I still remember some of the stories as clear as day.  I felt it would be good to put up previously read works on this site, because I don’t read enough fiction regularly to sustain this part of the blog, I mostly read non-fiction works based on social history, religion, the occult, psychology, true stories and biographies.

For those of you who have never read Neil Gaiman or know about the book “Smoke and Mirrors” it is an anthology of fantasy, horror and dark fantasy short stories and in my opinion, prose. 

Anyway, first up is “the wedding present” I don’t remember much about this story at all, other than I remember disliking it, but I can’t remember why.  I do plan to re-read this book at the end of this year for revising what I think is good and bad about it all, as I am trying to teach myself how to read critically, so re-reading this story will help me remember why I didn’t like it.

The next story I liked, it was humorous, “chivalry” A little old lady goes into a charity shop and buys a chalice and she is soon pestered by a time traveling knight who declares the chalice is rather special and tries to get it off her for several weeks, she eventually relents with a surprising ending.

“Nicholas Was” is next, a very short story, or was it really prose?  I don’t know what it was, but I do remember it, and it was confusing, although I did like the imagery it portrayed.

“The Price” oh my goodness was that a scary tale, I felt like crying for the cat.  I think the cat was based on some kind of protective angel, but that’s well hidden in the story if that’s what the cat was.  A brilliant tale, loved it, and I loved the audio of it too which is free and can be found at this website www.neilgaiman.co.uk/smokeandmirrors/audio

Another of my favorite was “Troll Bridge” I think almost every fantasy writer has written their own variation of this story at some point; I know Terry Pratchett has, although I’ve never read that one yet.  Neil Gaiman’s Troll Bridge was in my opinion, unique; I found it really thoughtful and inspiring.  I sometimes hoped that I could crawl under such bridge and make a deal like that, but would I really want to?  Who knows…?

“Don’t ask Jack” bought back nightmares of my childhood, that’s all I am going to say about this story.  I don’t like remembering it, to be honest.  In fact, I wasn’t comfortable with the story so much, I had to put the book down for two months before I could read the story that came after it, and that was because I forgot the previous tale. 

“The goldfish pool and other stories” Brilliant, I was so happy I picked this book up again after abandoning it, this was a great story, touching, haunting, fantastic.  I was really upset it was a short story; I could have read hundreds of pages of this work easily. 

“Eaten” I don’t remember this story either and I can’t remember if I liked it or not – sorry.

Again, one I loved “The white road” the imagery in my head was so lucid, I adored that.  I tend to think of actors or people I know when I read books and I was seeing actors and actresses from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Aristocrats” TV mini-series in 1999 one actor in particular was actually playing a Mr Fox, Alun Armstrong, he was playing Mr Fox in my mind when reading this story and the girl was a blond haired Winona Ryder for some reason.  The other actors and actresses from those movies and series that I was seeing in my head were there purely as spectators of the revelation that was being said between Mr Fox and the girl.

I was a wonderful story; I loved it, such passion and a delight to read, but am I being too bold? Ha-ha.

“Queen of knives” and “The case of the departure of Miss Finch” other delightful reads.  I loved them, they reminded me of one of my favorite Hammer horrors, “The Vampire Circus”, and they also had a similar air to “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern.  I too, almost wrote a book similar to all four of these examples when I was fifteen years old.  A story based around a circus of the night, traveling vampire gypsies picking off locals at their stops, turning some, training some, it was a good idea I thought, but at the time I was going through a turmoil.  My brother had friends in publishing, they were at his house having a dinner party and I was also invited, they asked to view my work so arranged another dinner with my brother and I gave them some of my work, unfortunately I never got them back and they plagiarized my work, unfortunately still, I had no proof they did this because when I lost my completed work I lost heart in re-writing it all and burned the notes I had gathered over the two years it took me to complete it. So basically they got off Scot free and I’ve nothing to prove in court, so my loss I suppose.  My brother also worked behind the scenes of major film companies, so needless to say they did make a movie out of what I wrote, but made minor alterations, I won’t mention the movie here or the people, because I don’t like making a fuss, especially when I cannot offer proof.  The story was different to my gypsy vampire idea, but was vampire themed nonetheless, just this was the point of no return for me until I reached twenty one and had confidence in writing again, by this time I had forgot the idea, I only remembered the idea after reading those stories.

“Changes” I don’t remember this story either regrettably.

“The daughter of owls” now that was a beautiful fairy-tale in my opinion. 

“Shoggoth’s old peculiar” made me smile because it made me think he based the story on my family, who live on the edge of the Welsh and English border, they run a pub which resembles an eighteenth century tavern and I’m sorry to say they have toad-like faces and an old fashion air about them.  They are constantly cribbing about hiking tourists in their area, particularly Americans, which made this story feel it was made especially for me.  Obviously it wasn’t, Neil Gaiman doesn’t know me from Adam, but still, it felt special.

“Virus” I didn’t like either.

“Looking for the girl” I disliked too.  Reminded me a little bit of one of my exes, made me feel this story was based on his future life.

“Only the end of the world again” I liked, was it a sequel to one of the above stories I wondered?  Or more than one – I sense an air of “Shoggoth’s old peculiar” but also “the white road”.  I loved the combination if I am right, it worked amazingly well.

I think the “Bay wolf” is also like the above review, though I am confused, because I am trying to remember all the stories from only four months back and it’s difficult, particularly as I am writing this review on a day that my headaches are mild and wondering whether or not they should get worse and become the usual migraines.

“Fifteen painted cards from a vampire tarot” was also good, many stories in one.  Again, this was something I was thinking about writing as an inclusion to my traveling vampire gypsies when I was a teenager, another reason was because an old horror movie with Donald Sutherland inspired me a few years previous called “Dr Terror House of Horrors”. 

“We can get them for you wholesale” was both hilarious and bleak; I never laughed out as loud as I did when reading this story.  I truly recommend it for people who have a sick sense of humor like me!

“One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock” and “Cold Colours” I don’t remember these stories either unfortunately.

“The sweeper of dreams” was also beautifully written and after reading it, knowing I’ve ignored my love for writing for almost two years solid, I began to wonder if the sweeper of dreams came and visited me and stole my muse away or not?  But obviously it hadn’t, because I’ve started to write again, though, this time, my muse focuses mostly on poetry, not stories, like before.

I despised “Foreign Parts” it’s really not my kind of story at all. 

“Vampire Sestina” was brilliant and again, too short.

“Mouse” I couldn’t remember much about mouse either.

“The sea change” was a good read too, for what I remember and that’s not quite much at all, ha-ha.

“How do you think it feels” I liked the story and I hoped for more, but no.  Sometimes I think Neil Gaiman lacks the confidence to make some of his short stories into novels, it’s like he doesn’t believe in them so he makes them short but sweet.

“When we went to see the end of the world” that was a confusing read.

“Desert Wind” was nice.

I don’t remember “tastings” either.

“In the end” now that was very thought provoking and again, made me pause on the book for a fortnight whilst I thought things through and read “Enoch” and a few other non-fiction stories, for absolutely no other reason than to try and confirm my own beliefs in some strange inane kind of way.

“Babycakes” the title attracted me because when I was in college a friend of mine thought it would be good to have a name for each other, a pet name, so she came up with the name “Babycakes” I was baby and she was cakes.  She called me baby because I lacked experience of the world and she felt very motherly towards me.  Regrettably, the story isn’t as sweet as the one I just said above about me and my friend; it’s haunting in a bad way, terrifying because that could become a truth and I felt bad that I had read it, like it’s shameful.

“Murder mysteries” was beautiful, I liked the story outline.

Now, here comes my favorite story of the entire book “Snow, glass, apples” Neil Gaiman’s take on Snow White and it’s wonderful.  Unique, tragic, he saw what I saw in the story, not a victim but a spoiled dangerous little brat, that’s what I’ve always seen snow white as, but oh, it’s wonderful how he mingled this story with vampirism and victimization of the queen.  A pure work of genius!

This book was 50/50 in my opinion, 50% bad and 50% good, but the good bits are excellent, they are unique and imaginative and I love them, they inspire me to write my own stuff.

Thank you Neil Gaiman!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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