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ROWDY GEIRSSON is interviewed by Before We Go Blog’s Bjørn Larssen.

Bjørn: I wanted to start with “how do you know all this stuff?!” but since I am a professional, I will instead– LOL ‘a professional’ – HOW DO YOU KNOW ALL THIS STUFF?!

Rowdy: Haha–this is the sort of professionalism I prefer! But I read a lot–reading and rereading, sometimes. You start out with something like Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Norse Myths and then gradually get sucked into things like the Eddas and other translations of the old material.

Bjørn: So, as I understand, you are a scholar educated in Norse history.

Rowdy: Ah, well, no. Haha. I had Jackson Crawford confused on that matter too. [He said modestly – BL] I think that people sometimes tend to think this because a lot of my writing goes fairly deep into the “whole northern thing” and I’ve also written a number of factual, historical articles. So that knowledge comes from an academic background and post-graduate study in Sweden, but it dealt with industrial heritage, landscape, and urban planning rather than mythology or history of the Viking Age.

Bjørn: Ah, I see. The urban planning of history of the Viking Age. This is exactly what makes sense.

Rowdy: The vikings were very well-known for their sensible town layouts, smartly designed traffic circulation patterns, and incredibly efficient plumbing systems.

Bjørn: So, do you come from Sweden? Is Rowdy a typical Swedish name?

Rowdy: No, but my grandparents did give me a Dalahäst [bless you – BL] when I was very young, so I suppose that was a premonition even if I didn’t know it at the time since Dalahästs [bless you – BL] aren’t as fun as they used to be. Rowdy is a corruption of my given, Celtic name of Roy, which means red, the northern equivalent being rauði. Send that through the major American immigration processing center of Ellis Island in the 1800s and you unequivocally end up with something like “rowdy.” Plus I was always a big fan of Robin Hood, and Little John wasn’t a little guy, so I enjoyed the similar sense of irony of this name. My dad’s name is Gary which is a bit more self-explanatory for the Geirsson part.

Bjørn: You said “Dalahäst” which I imagine is autocorrect for “dandelion allergy?”

Rowdy: It’s Swedish for “Dalecarlian horse”–those blocky, brightly painted wooden toy things. Tourist souvenir number 1 in Sweden. They sometimes make other animals too. I’ve seen Dalecarlian roosters and pigs anyway. The paint jobs on these toys are often fairly floral, so I suppose they could represent a dandelion allergy by proxy.

Bjørn: Are you a very rowdy person in your personal life?

Rowdy: Haha no, not all, or at least I don’t think so, and I seriously doubt anyone I’ve ever met would think so either. But it’s all about striking fear into the hearts of your enemies, you know, and Bloodaxe was already taken.

Bjørn: Ah, this makes all the sense. Let’s summarise your bio. You were born in not-Sweden, given a Dalercdlradslrian horse, which made you study Robin Hood and Viking plumbing, thanks to which you have achieved an unnatural degree of knowledge of everything Norse-related, confusing Jackson Crawford with your non-scholarness, while not actually being rowdy, but Rowdy due to taken Bloodaxe. Did I get it all right?

Rowdy: That sums it up pretty well, though I might also add that I don’t have a Boston accent, just to really complete the picture.

Bjørn: Ummm… let’s get to your work! Since this interview’s readers might not yet be familiar with your oeuvre, maybe you’d like to tell them how Norse Mythology for Bostonians followed by its translation to English, The Impudent Edda happened?

Rowdy: Most definitely! So the premise is basically that a drunken Bostonian walks into a bar during a Bruins game and begins telling the guy sitting beside him the entirety of Norse mythology from Ginnungagap to Ragnarök with major, local Masshole-ridden deviations. Both books are presented as parodies of a Penguin Classic, with full commentary and footnotes. The big difference is that Norse Mythology for Bostonians is presented as a transcription (with all the associated misspellings that go along with the Boston accent–lots of dropped “r”s for example) whereas The Impudent Edda is presented as a translation of Norse Mythology for Bostonians’ highly corrupted text into standard English, so non-Massholes can also understand it. It is also an expanded version with additional myths and a new foreword by Eirik Storesund of Brute Norse notoriety [I am too scared to ask what THAT is – BL] [his podcast and website! – RG] as well as new cover art by Matt Smith, who’s illustrated for Hellboy and also released his own viking-inspired graphic novel, Barbarian Lord.

The whole thing started in 2010 as a column for McSweeney’s, but that was mostly focused on history rather than mythology. The overall premise was basically the same though–a drunk Mark Wahlbergian character sits down beside you uninvited and just starts telling you more than you’d ever want to know about the vikings. That website was a lot more willing to publish oddball and experimental things back then. It’s mostly focused on political humor and pop culture fads now, but they still let me publish new articles for the column, so I appreciate that.

Bjørn: That must have been a memorable game. Both for the listener and for the Edda-teller. And the footnotes? They seem rather modern to me. (And essential.)

Rowdy: Haha, oh, definitely. Juxtaposing two things that don’t normally go together can be a good strategy for comedy, so the academic tone of the footnotes set against the multitude of F-bombs, dick jokes, and overly excessive violence described on each page kinda does that. Plus, they provide actual information for the reader about the myths, which themselves are full of sex and violence and petty emotional outbursts in the old medieval sources, so it’s fitting in a way. In the case of The Impudent Edda, the footnotes also address relevantaspects of the history of Boston.

Bjørn: Were the footnotes authored by the drunken Bostonian or his long-suffering listener?

Rowdy: Now this is where I’m doing a great service to all humankind. The anonymous Boston poet did not provide any explanations to his great, authoritative work on ancient Scandinavian religious beliefs, which is really unfortunate. New Eddas only come along once or twice every millennium or so, after all. This guy could have really learned from Tolkien’s example on how to leave behind copious amounts of notes. But instead all he did was accidentally record his Edda on his phone at a bar, then drop it in a dank alleyway after he left. So I’ve had to go in and try to make sense of his esoteric ramblings and poetic rants for the average non-Norse non-Bostonian.

Bjørn: The footnotes are half of the fun, I mean, education. Or more than half. How did you deal with that in the e-book? E-books and footnotes famously don’t go together.

Rowdy: Exactly, and thus there is no e-book. The fact there’s about 50 photos doesn’t help either. I did release The Scandinavian Aggressors in e-book format, though.

Bjørn: It’s extremely unusual for an indie author to only publish a paperback and no e-book. Weren’t you worried about limiting your audience?

Rowdy: I was mostly worried about the final product and whether I for one would be happy with it. I’m not convinced there’s a way to do Norse Mythology for Bostonians or The Impudent Edda as e-books without vastly diminishing them. I suppose they could be handled as fixed-page, non-reflowable e-books but it’s also my understanding that that format mostly causes ire and consternation among readers. I don’t read e-books myself so I’m less attuned to that world than I suppose most indie authors [and readers, but remember this is the man who confused Jackson Crawford, and Jackson Crawford’s native language is Old Norse – BL] are.

Bjørn: You have also written a travelogue/memoir. Um. Is that the exact genre of what The Scandinavian Aggressors is? Or would you classify it more as modern history for modern Vikings?

Rowdy: Good question, and I’m not entirely sure how to classify it. I think Corwin Ericson, who wrote a fantastically odd “whalepunk” novel called Swell, described it best as “an autofictional parody of a saga-like travelogue.” But basically, The Scandinavian Aggressors’ premise is that a handful of modern-day Scandinavians just couldn’t handle the monotony and doldrums of 21st century life anymore and so they went a-viking…according to rumors spread around the internet, anyway (always a reliable source of information). With no actual verified news coverage regarding these supposed events, the narrator decides to go investigate these incidents for himself and encounters a bunch of peculiar people who did a lot of ridiculous, vikingy things, such as raid Lindisfarne’s gift shop, enslave leprechauns, and hunt an extremely confused dragon for its hoard of gold.

Bjørn: *screech* HOLD ON THERE, BUSTER. I notice that you have somewhat avoided not to answer my original question. HOW do you know all this stuff?! I have read Crossley-Holland and (mumbles) tried both Eddas, and I have never managed to write actual scientific articles about Swedish artifacts (I am, however, working on describing the Valhalla plumbing issues in great detail).

Rowdy: Good–I am glad you are; Valhalla needs more of that sort of attention! I look forward to seeing that. But to get back to that original question, it is a lot of reading first and foremost, but a lot of that reading is in Swedish. There is a huge body of work in Swedish about Sweden’s own localized aspects of Viking Age (and earlier) history and culture. I imagine the same is also true of the other Scandinavian countries.

Bjørn: And – he still didn’t answer. The Mystery of Rowdy Geirsson and his Dalailama Horses shall continue until someone finds a recording of his drunken diary dropped in a dank alley behind a Bostonian bar…

The Impudent Edda Synopsis

Picking up where its medieval forebears, The Poetic Edda and The Prose Edda left off, The Impudent Edda not only introduces readers to a fresh, new perspective on both familiar and previously unknown narratives of Norse mythology, but also brings the world’s foremost epic fantasy trilogy to its inevitable and fateful conclusion: in a dank alleyway behind a dive bar in Boston.

The Impudent Edda offers readers a deeply poetic yet highly accessible version of fun and classic tales ranging from Odin’s unprovoked murder of an ancient witch to Freyja’s voluntary experiment as a prostitute among lecherous dwarves to Thor’s drunken and petty act of larceny on the eve of Ragnarök, the final world-shattering battle of the gods.

Rowdy Geirsson Bio:

Rowdy Geirsson is the author of The Scandinavian Aggressors and translator of The Impudent Edda. His writing on Nordic history and culture has also appeared in Scandinavian Review, the Sons of Norway’s Viking Magazine, Medieval World: Culture and Conflict, and is forthcoming in History Today. He also writes regularly for Reactor (formerly tor.com) and is the creator of McSweeney’s longest-running and least popular column, Norse History for Bostonians.

Links:

“The Impudent Edda”:

https://www.scandinavianaggression.com/the-impudent-edda

McSweeney’s articles:

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/authors/rowdy-geirsson

“Reactor” (formerly tor.com) articles:

https://reactormag.com/author/rowdy-geirsson/

A selection of PDFs of Scandinavian history and culture articles:

https://www.scandinavianaggression.com/magazine-articles

Social Media:

https://twitter.com/RGeirsson

https://www.instagram.com/rowdygeirsson/

https://bsky.app/profile/rgeirsson.bsky.social

https://www.threads.net/@rowdygeirsson

Giveaway:

To honor the mythological Norse spit-mutant known as Kvasir, Rowdy Geirsson is humbling spreading knowledge and giving away a free copy of

“The Impudent Edda”.

If interested, just email eddic_impudence@hotmail.com with your answer to the following question:

1.Why did Loki get arrested when attempting to pass through airport security?

There is no wrong answer, and the most amusing one wins! Winner will be announced in two weeks.

 

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