Old Gods Don’t Die
How many of us know even a little about the Norse pantheon of gods? Those of us who have read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods are confident that we know at least a bit… but the truth is, everyone knows some of them. Today, for example — Friday, named for the Norse goddess Frigg, wife of Odin (we call him Wednesday), stepmother of Tyr (we call him Tuesday).
Or this month? It’s named for the old Roman purification ritual of Februa, which later became Lupercalia, which later became… Valentine’s Day.
The planets in our solar system? Roman gods. Our nearest neighbor, Mars, is the god of war.
So as I’ve been writing, I’ve had to reference the past without making everyone an expert on history. In the first chapter, Dane arrives at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. He knows the area is historically important for some reason, but he can’t remember why. I caught a little bit of flak for that — the Kennedy assassination is obviously a big thing. For us. Because it only happened about 48 years ago. But what about something that happened 131 years ago? If we traipsed onto a site of historical importance on the way to somewhere else, would we necessarily be aware what happened there in 1881?
Also, Dane’s kind of self-absorbed and a little bit stupid in ways. That doesn’t help.
But it’s something I’ve noticed the more I write — I have to be aware of things my characters are not necessarily aware of, things that might never be mentioned in the course of the story — because they’re important. They matter. Just like most of us might not be aware, really, that several days of the week were named for Norse gods.
Was there a point to all of this? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just Frigg’s Day, and that means I can go all nonlinear in anticipation of the weekend. Have a great weekend, folks!