For the past ten years, I’ve worked in the publishing field as an editor and art director, editing fantasy and science fiction books for the adult market. I’m very proud of that work. I’ve been honored with several awards and nominations, and it’s been a rare privilege to collaborate with such wonderful and talented authors and artists over the years. I count many of them as dear friends, and one or two are actually writers that I read as a child! Can you imagine the thrill of commissioning a story or a novel from a childhood hero? Wow.
But most of the books I’ve worked on aren’t really appropriate for children. That’s okay. They’re adult books meant for adult readers. They’re fantastic books, to be sure, but I can’t share them with my children for a few years yet. So for a while now, I’ve wanted to write something that my kids could enjoy right away, starring characters that both my son and my daughter could relate to and care about.
I love “buddy fiction,” those tales of unlikely duos adventuring together across imagined lands, so writing about a boy-and-girl team was a natural choice. I also love fantasy fiction. I grew up on The Hobbit (which I read over and over again), the Lord of the Rings (which led me to painting tons of miniature orc figures), the Chronicles of Narnia (which my father read to me several times), and films like The Dark Crystal, Dragonslayer, and Conan the Barbarian. For a long time, I’ve wanted to craft my own fantasy world, one rich and full enough that heroes—and readers—could explore it in adventure after adventure.
Enter Frostborn and the Thrones and Bones series. The story of Frostborn is set in the country of Norrøngard, a Norse-inspired land on the northwesternmost edge of an enormous continent. It’s a land of trolls and frost giants, winter wolves and undead warriors known as draug. And dragons. Oh yes, dragons. It’s a place of adventure, thrills, and chills, but also humor.
And friendship. It was into this snowy, northern environment that I placed my boy and girl. I should stress that they are co-leads. It’s very important to me that neither character is the sidekick of the other. Karn Korlundsson and Thianna the half-giant are very different in personality and in strength, but they are equal in importance to the story of Thrones and Bones. Thianna is big and brash and brave and decidedly unsubtle. Karn is introspective, clever, and an obsessive gamer (who finds that strategy games have more real-world applications than he anticipated). Like so many of us, neither of them starts out feeling like they fit in exactly with their environment, though they both have strengths they haven’t recognized. Together, they learn about themselves and each other, as they are forced to team up to survive both the harsh wilderness and several sets of enemies.
I mentioned that Thianna is a half-giant. Her mother was a human from a faraway land, but her father was a frost giant from Norrøngard. My children are biracial, and it is important to me that they see themselves reflected in their fiction. So while Karn is a blond, blue-eyed boy, very typical for his region, Thianna is a child of two cultures and favors the skin tone and hair color of her mother’s distant country (think Mediterranean). But whatever a child’s ethnicity or heritage, I hope they can relate to Karn’s and Thianna’s struggles, their hopes and dreams, and their journey. I’m writing for my children, but I’m writing for yours as well, and for the child in all of us. It’s a wonderful hat to wear, this brand-new writer’s cap of mine, and I hope I get to keep it on for many years to come.
Lou Anders’s research on Norse mythology while writing Frostborn turned into a love affair with Viking culture and a first visit to Norway. He hopes the series will appeal to boys and girls equally. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has published over 500 articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. Frostborn, which Publishers Weekly described as “thoroughly enjoyable” (starred review), is his first middle-grade novel. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at louanders.com and ThronesandBones.com.
Frostborn by Lou Anders
HC: 9780385387781 GLB: 9780385387798 EPUB: 9780385387804
Grades 3–7; Debut novelist Lou Anders has created a rich world of over twenty-five countries inhabited by Karn, Thianna, and an array of fantastical creatures, as well as the Thrones and Bones board game.