• Featured Novel: 'The Aesir Kids' by James Grant Goldin & Charlotte Goldin

    The Aesir Kids is the Middle Grade fantasy by TV Writer James Grant Goldin and his ten-year-old daughter, Charlotte Goldin. The story takes place entirely in the worlds of Norse myths, and it tells the story of eleven kids trying to prevent the total destruction of the world, and along the way, they have to forge friendships, learn magical skills, and make hard choices about whether what their families want is really for the best. Charlotte, who's writing for the age group to which she belongs to, says that The Aesir Kids also has dragons, space stuff, and girls who wield axes and throw spears.

    Interview with James & Charlotte Goldin

    What inspired you to write this book?

    Charlotte: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did a line of Thor comics and we used to play those adventures when I was little.

    James: Very important to save your old comics for the next generation! The Marvel Thor was my introduction to Norse mythology back in the 1960s. And when Charlotte was 8, she read my old copy of Norse Gods and Giants by the D’Aulaires, which was my entry into the “real” myths. One of the things that makes Asgard different from Olympus is that the Norse gods had real families. Thor’s oldest child was Thrud, who was also a Valkyrie. We’ve made her a young teenager who wants to be a Valkyrie, but her grandfather Odin wants her to grow up and get married instead. Thor had twin sons, Magni and Modi, who were very strong. We see them as eight-year-olds who are always getting into trouble with giants and monsters. In the myths, Thor also has two children from Midgard, or Earth, who help him in Asgard: Tjalfi, who’s super-fast, and his sister Roskva, whom we’ve given super-hearing.

    Was it challenging to write a Norse-myth story for the Middle Grade audience?

    JAMES: Yes. There’s so much in the world (or the Nine Worlds) of the Norse myths, that selecting what we wanted to include, exclude and change was a challenge. But, as with everything, the choices became clearer as the story progressed. As far as it being for Middle Graders, it was co-written by a Middle Grader, and Charlotte always told me if a word was too obscure or if an incident was too violent (or perhaps not violent enough), and if she laughed at something that was supposed to be funny—well, there you go. Middle Grade doesn’t mean childish or simplistic. It means writing something that connects with what kids 8-12 care about—and something that will touch their parents, too.

    What lessons do you want your readers to learn from "The Aesir Kids" ?

    CHARLOTTE: You can’t always trust your uncles.

    JAMES: Especially if your uncle is Loki. That’s not a spoiler, but, you know, he’s LOKI. Most uncles are trustworthy.

    CHARLOTTE: But not if they’re Loki.

    JAMES: Also, be brave. That sounds simple, but you really can’t do anything worthwhile without courage. And just because your fate seems to be set by others, that doesn’t mean you can’t change it.
    Tell us about an interesting character or group of characters in your novel.

    Charlotte: Thrud, because it’s sort of like a teenage girl on Earth, except there’s no TV or movies, and she’s being deprived of all her rights by a grumpy old grandfather (Odin), who has all the power. And Fire—Fire’s the only one we made up.

    James: Charlotte wondered what would happen if the three Norns who weave the fates of humans decided they wanted a child of their own. So they make one, and it turns out he has control over flame…as well as some other, more mysterious, abilities.

    Charlotte: He’s interesting because he’s technically not a Norse god and he doesn’t act like they do, and he’s never technically had a childhood, since he was “born” when he was twelve or thirteen.

    James: Another really interesting character is Hela, the daughter of Loki. In Norse myths, she’s the goddess of death. But Charlotte wondered, what if we make her this sad little girl who doesn’t want that as her destiny, and doesn’t realize that her father, who she wants to love, might be using her for his own reasons?

    Do you think teachers should encourage children to read Fantasy books in school?

    CHARLOTTE: Yes. In history books, you have to stick to the facts. In fantasy, you can bend things to the end of the universe. And in a fantasy book, kids can be kids.

    JAMES: Sometimes it’s good to take a little journey away from the world you know. And look what you can learn from fantasy: it can spark your interest in history – I wouldn’t be surprised if readers of THE AESIR KIDS want to learn more about Vikings. If the names seem odd at first, that can expand your interest in language and the meaning of words. The Aesir use a “high speech” at important moments—“thee and thou” instead of “you” –and getting through that will make Shakespeare a little easier. Fantasy works if readers know that, even though these events aren’t real, they’re about real things—relationships, decisions and choices.


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