I wrote the first draft of “The Snowman of Bishops Fell” in either late 2016 or early 2017.
Assuming that I’m able to finish the final edits over the course of the next two days, I’m hoping to post this historical-horror (histohorror? is that an acceptable portmanteau? oh wait – Google says I didn’t just create the histohorror genre. But can I create horrorical?) fiction within the next two or three days.
After careful consideration, this one is definitely more historical-horror fiction (as opposed to horror-historical fiction).
“The Snowman of Bishops Fell” is roughly 5,600 words (the original draft was around 4,500 words), which will easily be the longest single work I’ve ever shared on this blog.
This is how I described “The Snowman of Bishops Fell” a year and a half ago to a publisher in Oklahoma:
This piece is set during the winter of 1413-1414 in Norse Greenland, a society that uniquely blended Christian and pagan elements into daily life. Many of the first settlers originated in Iceland and arrived in Greenland around 985. Christianity took a firm hold on the islands of Scandinavia within twenty years of that date. Most Norse Greenlanders converted and churches were constructed throughout southwest Greenland, but many settlers retained some of their pagan sensibilities and beliefs. The action of this piece unfolds at a time in which the Norse Greenlanders were struggling with their environment more than ever before and often facing conflict with the Inuit. When a murderer is outlawed by the settlers, the man retreats into the mountains east of the settlement. However, he continues to harass the Greenlanders, so a band is assembled to journey into the mountains and destroy this outlaw. With both sides believed to employ some measure of magic and spells, the resolve of all characters involved is questioned.
I studied the history of Norse Greenland extensively in college. Norse Greenlanders disappeared from the historical record in the 15th century (the exact causes remain unknown). The archaeological record suggests that the Norse Greenlanders must have relied heavily on their religion and their superstitions to cope with the very difficult conditions in Greenland. This particular story takes place just a few years after the last recorded event in the history of the Greenland Norse. “Bishops Fell“, where most of the story takes place, is “Bishop’s Mountain” – a foreboding massif behind the cathedral and seat of the bishop in Greenland. I tried to capture the perspectives of these characters as their otherwise difficult but highly ritualistic lives are confronted with the unknown.
I did send “The Snowman of Bishops Fell” to several publishers. After receiving a variety of rejections, I returned to the drawing board and added about 1,100 words to the piece. I do believe this helped flesh out (pun intended) some of the characters.
One publisher (who accepted two other works of fiction from me at an earlier time) did offer some praise for “The Snowman of Bishops Fell”:
“Now, this story, I absolutely love. It’s spirited, keeps the reader engaged and is excellent.”
Photo credit goes to Dave Stanley for his wonderful image of mountains and glaciers in Greenland!