Louie Stowell

Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good
Louie Stowell

About Author

Louie Stowell's new series, Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good, brings trickster god Loki to Earth when he is tasked by Odin to learn how to be a better person - and it's not going well. 

Louie started her career writing carefully-researched books about space, Ancient Egypt, politics and science but eventually lapsed into just making stuff up. She likes writing about dragons, wizards, vampires, fairies, monsters and parallel worlds.

She lives in London with her wife Karen, her dog Buffy and a creepy puppet that is probably cursed.

 

Interview

Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good (Walker Books)

February 2022

Trickster god Loki is forced to live on earth as a human child and must keep a diary to show how he's doing - and it's not going well.... Author Louie Stowell tells us more about her hilarious new series, beginning with Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good.

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Author Louie Stowell introduces her new series:

Q&A with Louie Stowell

1. You were previously a publisher - what brought you into writing your own stories?

I've always written, but taking the leap from working in publishing during the week and writing at the weekends? The pandemic gave me the spur I needed to do that. It made me realise that I could be creative at home. Previously, I'd always written in cafes. Also, it made me realise I wouldn't get lonely not having colleagues, because all of author Twitter are my colleagues.


2. What inspired your new book, Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good? Can you tell us a little about it?

The story starts with the trickster god Loki being booted out of Asgard, where the gods live. He's forced to live on earth as a punishment for his many tricks. Not only does he have to cope with mortal life but Odin has turned him into a child, so he has to cope with indignities such as homework, chores and having a (fake) brother who farts on him a lot.

I was inspired by reading the original Norse myths, but also via more circuitous routes, from listening to Wagner as a child, reading Lord of the Rings and studying Old English at university.

My inspirations weren't all Norse though - I also had in mind a lot of classic diary stories and tales of bad children, from Dennis the Menace to Molesworth and Adrian Mole. Oh, and Just William, which isn't technically a diary, but he's cut from the same cloth.

 


3. Have you always loved Norse myths? Did you need to do much research for your Loki books?

Conveniently, I'd done all the research already. While I was working in publishing, at children's publisher Usborne, I co-wrote a book of Norse myths with my colleague Alex Frith. I did all the Loki stories and he did all the Thor ones. So I suppose I'd picked a side even back in 2013, before my new book was a twinkle in my eye. Back then, I read a variety of sources. I've re-read quite a few while writing Loki, to check details, but also for fun.

I've always loved Norse myths, but other myths too, especially the Greek ones. But as I grew older, I loved Norse ones more, because they're weirder and jollier. Greek myths often tend to be a bit sad.


4. And we have to ask - are you a Marvel fan? Any favourites?

I actually grew up as more of a DC/Vertigo reader, alongside 2000 AD and Oink! (RIP that glorious comic.) Hellblazer was one of my favourites - about a very bad wizard called John Constantine who causes nothing but trouble and misery. Actually, that's quite like Loki, isn't it? Except Loki's not (explicitly) from Liverpool.

Marvel I came to much later, as an adult. Obviously Loki is great but my favourite Marvel hero is a toss-up between Ms Marvel and Captain Marvel. All the Marvels!


5. If you had a chance to be a Norse god for a day, who would you be, and what would you do with those godly powers?

Probably Thor. I want super strength and the chance to ride around in a chariot pulled by goats that regenerate after you eat them.


6. What were your rules for bringing Norse gods into a modern setting?

I had to set up a timeline before I started, and work out what level of interaction Loki had had with humanity over the years. I decided on not very much. The Norse gods tend to be quite hands-off, and I figure they only pop down to Midgard from time to time. So I decided Loki hadn't been down for a visit since Viking times, so everything about modern life would be new to him. To help him with that, Odin's given him a guide to the 21st century, which allows him to learn about things like advertising, cars and many other modern phenomena.

7. Why did you decide to write Loki's challenge as a diary? 

I was partly inspired by Adrian Mole's diary but, also, Loki's voice popped into my head pretty quickly. With a lot of first-person stories, I wonder who they're talking to, and a diary format gives a clear answer to that.

But also I loved playing with the idea that Loki is a liar, so the only way for the reader to be able to believe anything he says is to have him corrected by the diary. The voice of the diary is a version of Odin. Not the god himself, but sort of a computer program of him, with all his knowledge.


8. How much of the information about Norse gods in Loki's diary is based on the actual myths?

Most of it, except where he's making it up. In book 2 I also explore some "missing" bits from Norse myths.

AKA the bits about women.


9. Who are your favourite supporting characters?

Heimdall and Hyrrokkin were so fun to write, as Loki's fake parents. But I'm also very fond of Valerie Kerry, the blunt, horse-mad, alien-obsessed friend that Loki makes on earth.


10. Loki's diary is very funny - did you enjoy writing it?

Loved it! I'm not quite sure how humour works, still. I just write down what I think Loki would say, then add some extra farts.


11. Had you always planned to illustrate it yourself?

I hadn't actually planned to illustrate it, as I've never illustrated a book before - just cartoons for magazines and things. But when I went on submission, one of the editors who wanted to buy it asked me if I fancied doing it. Non, my editor, had seen my silly doodles before you see. Then I realised I really, really did want to draw the pictures.

There's something amazing about being able to create your own visual and textual language, and controlling the interplay of word and image.

I absolutely loved drawing Loki, though I occasionally curse myself when I write myself a brief that's like "massive battle scene with a dozen horses" and then I have to draw it. Horses are hard.


12. What's next for Loki?

I can never tell what's too big a spoiler, but here are some hints. 1) he will attend a birthday party. 2) Thor's hammer will go missing. 3) HORSES.


13. What would you most want to be if you weren't an author?

My childhood dreams ranged from jazz musician (I play the trumpet) to lawyer (I was a big fan of A Few Good Men). Actually, there's an A Few Good Men reference in Loki. Bonus points if you can spot it. Though unfair on actual children because it came out long before they were born.


14. What keeps you at your writing desk?

Coffee.


15. And what are your favourite escapes from your desk?

Walking and cycling in nature. I like wild places. Or sometimes just pootling about the streets discovering things I'd never noticed before.

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