Before The Survivors’ Saga, you had only published two books of poetry, with no obvious ties to fantasy. What made you decide that your debut novel should be the first Icelandic fantasy?
Emil Hjörvar Petersen: “Before I had the idea for The Survivors’ Saga, I had tried my hand at writing novels that conformed to what I was used to seeing in Icelandic literature. I now know why I didn’t keep it up: it just wasn’t right for me. Of course, I don’t want to rule anything out in the future, because I enjoy all types of literature.
“The poetry books aren’t exactly fantastical, but they’re full of allusions and reworkings of myths and other strangeness. I seem to be completely enthralled by these elements. I only realized it recently, after finishing the first volume of the trilogy. I wanted to tell a good story, but I also wanted to have something worthwhile to say. To move people and get them thinking at the same time. I wanted the fantasy to be my mouthpiece, but no one had written an Icelandic fantasy before.
“I took a chance with it, and that was pretty nerve-wracking for a long time. But now, the book has gotten good reviews and a warm reception from readers. I’m very grateful for that. I tried to write the kind of story I myself would like to read, and it’s great to know that other people enjoy it, too.”