Author Nils Ödlund is a Swedish writer, living in Ireland, who writes deep character driven stories set in an urban fantasy world. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.
My name is Nils Ödlund. I’m originally Swedish, but I’ve lived in Cork, Ireland for the past fourteen years. My day job is in customer support, and I spend most of my free time gaming, reading, or writing. I’m happily single, and tend to keep to myself, but even then, the isolation of the last year has worn on me. I try and keep active in various online writing communities, though – to have people to talk to and cut away from the day job for a bit.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in 2011. Initially, I wanted to create a fantasy setting for a Pen & Paper RPG, but then a friend of mine suggested I write short-stories set in the world. I figured it’d be a good way to show off various aspects of the setting I’d created so I set to it, and then I never really stopped.
The short stories grew longer, and eventually they turned into novellas and novels. It’s been ages since I did any actual work on the setting, though.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I used to consider myself a gamer, and to a certain extent I still do. At some point, and I don’t quite remember when, I realized that I spent more time writing than I did playing games. That’s when.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My next book is called Nothing Left to Lose, and it’s the tenth book in the Lost Dogs series. Lost Dogs is the story of Roy van Waldenberger and Alene Moneya. Roy is a retired wrestler who’s on a journey to find the love of his life. Alene is an aspiring young journalist who decides she’s the one to tell Roy’s story.
Both Roy and Alene are therianthropes. Therianthropy is an affliction where the spirit of a predator takes up residence within the mind of a person. It makes the person stronger, faster, and tougher, but it also slowly turns them into an animal.
Much of the story focuses on Roy’s and Alene’s relationship with their respective inner beasts, and how it impacts their lives and their place in the world.
What inspired you to write this book?
Originally, I just wanted to show off the setting I created, and I needed an excuse for someone to go on a road-trip by train. It was just meant to be a series of short stories, but the stories grew, turned into novellas, and later novels.
The setting is still there, and it’s still important to the feel of the story, but it’s the characters who matter. I’m not going to say that they write the story, but getting to know them and figuring out who they are has definitely been a major inspiration outside of the original idea.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Can I say “blunt and evocative?” I try to avoid long flowery descriptions and instead focus on using words that trigger association and mental images. I believe that the imagination of the reader is a lot stronger than any words I can put on the page. I try to give them a framework that encourages them to fill out their own images, and to put part of themselves into the story.
Originally, I thought everyone was able to picture things in their mind, but then I learned of aphantasia, and how some people don’t have an inner eye that lets them see things. For a while, it troubled me, because my writing relies so heavily on the readers inner vision. I worried someone with aphantasia wouldn’t understand my books.
Eventually, I decided to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve talked to people with aphantasia, and usually when descriptions get too long, they just skip or skim them. My descriptions are generally short, so I figured they’re easily skipped if they don’t make sense.
In addition to the above, I try to write in a plain and simple style. I’m not a native English speaker, and my command of the language (especially word flow) isn’t perfect. I try to be aware of this, and to limit myself to using only words I’m perfectly comfortable with. My hope is that this results in an easily readable and gently flowing prose, which does not trip up the reader.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Lost Dogs, the series, was originally going to be called Werewolves On A Train, but I decided to skip that. It carries too many connotations and gives a somewhat silly impression.
Within the world of the story, “dog” is a derogatory term for therianthropes (except between themselves), and since the two main characters of the story are a bit lost, each in their own way, the name stuck.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are plenty of messages. Some are rather blunt and on the nose, others are more subtle. One recurring theme is that the world doesn’t wait and giving up is not an option. Life isn’t fair, everyone makes mistakes, and there is no simple solution.
That doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. Sometimes life is unfair in your favor.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
My largest influences are probably Tove Jansson and Neil Gaiman.
Tove Jansson is a Finnish author and the creator of the Moomintrolls. Her writing style is absolutely amazing, and she has an uncanny ability to infuse even her children’s books with nuggets of timeless wisdom.
Neil Gaiman has this way with storytelling and world building where the fantastic elements feel solid and grounded. It’s like they’re a natural part of the world and not something cool that the author wants to impress me with.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I’m one of those writers who underestimated the importance of covers when they started out. I asked a local artist friend to do cover art for me. The art itself was great, but it didn’t work as a marketable cover for an indie fantasy book.
Eventually, I began tinkering with it, and discovered I could do acceptable covers myself. They’re not top-notch professional level, but they’re at a stage where I’m still not ashamed of them even if they’ve been around for a couple of years now.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you’re starting out. Seek other writers and learn from them. Ask for feedback, give feedback, and learn what feedback applies to your writing – because not all feedback is relevant feedback.
Also, don’t rush it. Writing is a long game.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
While this will be the last book in the Lost Dogs series, it will not be the end of Roy and Alene. Their story isn’t over.
Last Fight of the Old Hound