This story is a retelling of the old Norwegian fairytale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” which my dad read to me several times as a bedtime story in early childhood—early enough that I only half-remembered it as an adult (“what was that story again? The one with the bear and the girl?”). I rediscovered it in 2020 after some Wikipedia sleuthing. I was going through a phase of obsession with myth/fairytale retellings at the time, and decided to develop a modern take on this cozy, folkloric Scandinavian odyssey.
My project started out nice, but grew more and more pagan and American Gods-ish the more I wrote. Before I knew it, I was researching old Saami animist beliefs and shamanism, and had somehow rewritten my favorite childhood fairytale to center around a sketchy human sacrifice.
This was also one of the first times I’d run a story through the Critters critique workshop’s gauntlet, a very humbling experience that connected me with about 20 different reader/reviewers who didn’t pull punches. Rewriting my already-bizarre story afterwards turned out to be one of the trickiest writing exercises I’ve tried this year.
A huge thank-you to Electric Spec for selecting my work! It’s an honor to be featured here.
Thank you, I.S.!
Check out "Waking the Bear" and the rest of the great stories!