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Make sure you check out Depths of Night: A Ragnar Stormbringer Tale
Bringing the Storm: A Counterpart for A Literary Journey
by Stephen Zimmer
Rayden Valkyrie led me to Ragnar Stormbringer.
Here is the story.
It begins, first of all, with a certain golden-haired warrior who is deadly with an axe and sword.
Rayden is a character that I had a clear vision of from the first moment that she revealed herself in my mind. A Norse-inspired female warrior, Rayden inhabits a world that is different, yet parallels, our world. From the beginning, I saw her as a restless wanderer, guided by an inner honor code that developed over the course of her life.
She is a character with a lot of dimension and depth. Reflective and compassionate, she does not hesitate to dish out justice or give hard lessons to those who truly need them. In many ways, she is an army of one. Her debut took place in the short story “All the Lands, Nowhere a Home”, and she has since been the focus of two novels, Heart of a Lion and Thunder Horizon, the first two installments of the Dark Sun Dawn trilogy.
I have believed since I wrote the first story with her that the Rayden Valkyrie character has the potential to resonate very powerfully on the screen, and in the later part of 2015 I embarked to develop a TV Pilot to demonstrate a full series concept. I created an original storyline for the TV Pilot and series concept, as the budget needed to do an adaption of Heart of a Lion would be entirely cost-prohibitive.
A wilderness adventure with an interesting ensemble cast offered the perfect path to demonstrating a bigger concept while being able to deliver, on an indie budget, the kind of production value that modern audiences expect.
It was within the screenplay for the pilot that my concept of Ragnar Stormbringer stepped forward with clarity. I had some ideas for a character similar to him before, even to the point that I had started sketching out notes for some short stories, but the role required for him in the storyline of the TV pilot spoke loudly to me and brought him to the forefront.
For the purposes of the storyline, involving a band of mercenaries hired to chase down a large force of brigands who have taken a number of captives, with the intent to sell them into slavery, I saw a very important place for a strong male counterpart to Rayden. Not a love interest, but rather a peer that had enough differences with her to make for some great interaction, tension, and action over the course of the pilot and potential series beyond.
Ragnar is also Norse-inspired, carrying a two-handed bearded axe that is named Raven Caller. He is different in personality, temperament, and many other things in relation to Rayden, but like her he does have an individual honor code that he has developed over his life. He is not callous or without compassion, though his style is admittedly much rougher-edged. His back story is also very different from hers, and I look forward to revealing it bit by bit.
And that is where the novellas came into the picture, late in 2017.
In some ways, the idea of writing and releasing individual novellas starring Rayden or Ragnar is something that blends the spirit of publishing from both the pulp era and the modern era.
Stand-alone tales about heroic characters of novella length flourished within the pulp era. An obvious example is Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian.
Today’s eBook formats brought another compelling attribute to the table. The eBook format makes such tales extremely accessible and affordable to readers.
On a personal level, the idea of writing novellas gave me a solution to a problem that had been vexing me for some time. My readers mean the world to me. Without them, I am nothing as an author, plain and simple. As such, I always hated the longer gaps in between larger novel releasees, as I want my readers to have something to look forward to regularly, but I never compromise on what I hand in to an editor.
If it is not ready, I do not hand it in. I must truly be finished with a manuscript before it goes to the stage involving the editor.
I have many friends who are writers in genres such as Romance, where they can release a full novel every month. The expectations and structures for that genre make such a thing possible for those writers (it would take me a short essay to explain further), but the dynamics and elements of fantasy are such that I simply cannot generate a novel-length book a month kind of pace.
The novella solves this beautifully. It gives me more room to develop plot and character than a short story, but it is short enough in length that I can generate stories at a pace where I can offer them to readers on a schedule of about one a month, while also working on my larger novel projects.
I wrote a large amount of content back in January and February for this first wave of novellas, with tales for both Rayden and Ragnar. I found as I got into them that I had opened up all kinds of possibilities for exploring their world and these characters.
Within the novellas (and novels/short stories involving Rayden and Ragnar) there are lands and individuals that appear in both Ragnar and Rayden’s respective journeys. As a storyteller, this provides some highly fertile ground, seeing the lands and characters through the eyes of two distinct, heroic figures.
The novellas are not being released in any particular sequence. They begin to flesh out the life stories of both characters, balanced with any other short stories or novels (whether the latter are in multi-book arcs or stand-alone in nature). Every release adds a little more, fleshing out the larger stories of Ragnar and Rayden.
For readers who are fans of one and both, I think this approach is great fun, in addition to giving them much more to look forward to on the release schedule. An abundance of settings and plots await the reader to dive into, with a variety of stylings.
I am confident that readers will find that Ragnar and Rayden are wonderful counterparts, with their differences and their similarities, as they adventure across the face of the unpredictable world they inhabit. I can also say that I am grateful that Rayden introduced me to the big fellow, and drew him forward. I can say without a moment’s hesitation that she really did bring me a storm of new adventures, new releases to give my readers, and a wonderful character to go on adventures with!
About the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).
Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.
Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.
Depths of Night: After a harrowing end to a long sea journey, the famed northern warrior Ragnar Stormbringer and a force of warriors step ashore in the lands of the Petranni, a tribal people known for their workings in silver and gold. The search for plunder takes a sharp turn when homesteads, villages, and temple sites show signs of being recently abandoned.
When it is discovered that the Petranni have all taken refuge within a massive stronghold, Ragnar and the others soon fall under the shadow of an ancient, deadly adversary. Wielding his legendary war axe Raven Caller, Ragnar finds his strength tested like never before.
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