Several weeks back (in a post linked here) I noted one of the scholarly research sources I used while writing Odin’s Promise. Folklore Fights the Nazis: Humor in Occupied Norway, 1940-1945, by Kathleen Stoker, is also acknowledged in other recent novels set in the years of Norway’s occupation by German forces. The many subtle but subversive resistance actions Stoker describes are documented in other sources, but her work incorporates excerpts of diaries and artifacts that made the time and place come to life for me.
One subversion in particular has a small mention in Odin’s story. Resistance groups in Olso, particularly centered around the university, involved wearing a small paper clip on one’s lapel. In Norwegian a paper clip is called a binder, suggesting “vi binder sammen”- “we bind together”. The practice quickly spread across the nation among those opposed to the occupation and the destruction of Norway’s freedom. It identified the wearers’ resistance to rebranding Norway as Germany’s northern capital, and allowed true patriots to recognize each other quickly. All in a quietly legal way.
Its effectiveness became evident when the practice was quickly outlawed. Can you imagine the sense of victory gained when the powerful Third Reich had to waste time enforcing laws forbidding the wearing of a paper clip on a collar? Over five long years of occupation resistance tactics like these were remarkable in their variety and ingenuity, often involving word play drawn from Norwegian figurative language.
I mention all this because plans are underway for a celebration of the release of Odin’s Promise.
Thanks to the nimble, tireless (okay, slightly hyperactive) fingers and boundless love of my sister, party-goers can select a “binder” adorned with red-white-and-blue ribbons. These work well as bookmarks, for those of us who still enjoy reading traditional books. If not, feel free to wear it on your lapel. When someone asks what it represents, it’s a wonderful invitation to tell the story of Norway’s resistance to tyranny and talk about Odin’s Promise. It can also serve as a reminder to me of the many people, like my sister, who are bound together in the creation of this book.
So, if you’ll be in the area, plan to join us in the celebration. Pull out your calendars and SAVE-THE-DATE: