Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Viking's Witch - Voted Best Romance E-book - An Inside Look at the Backstory (Part 1)

Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing an inside look at my Medallion Press novel, The Viking’s Witch. For those who haven’t heard, The Viking’s Witch won a Gold IPPY Award for Best Romance e-book. (Yes, that’s a photo of me accepting my award - look for more photos soon!)

The Viking’s Witch is a traditional historical romance with paranormal elements set in Scotland in 803 A.D.  The main character, Odaria, is what they called a witch back then – nowadays we’d call her a psychic and a healer.

In this blog, I’ll talk about how the book came about, the research involved, and the violence that takes place in the story. (Yes, even though it’s a romance, everything’s not all hearts and flowers.) Next week, I’ll talk about the characters, Odaria’s magic ‘witch’ powers, and more!

First, here’s the plot summary:

About to be burned at the stake by her fellow villagers, Odaria does what any betrayed witch facing certain death would do. She calls down a curse. Within seconds, rampaging Norsemen raid the village, capturing everyone except her.

But her reprieve is short-lived, and Odaria lands in the clutches of the Norse leader Rothgar. Can she remain true to herself and fight her growing attraction to this domineering man, or will she fall under his influence?

After Rothgar witnesses Odaria’s powers firsthand, he strikes a bargain with her. The raven-haired beauty will use her magical abilities to help him with his quest in exchange for safe passage off the isle. But can this cunning woman be trusted, or is she using him to exact vengeance on her village?

Together they must fight bloodthirsty villagers, battle a mutinous band of Norsemen, find a missing Norse ship, and learn to trust each other . . . before time is up.
Interviewers and readers have asked what my inspiration was when I was writing the book, and they are curious about how much research I had to do to create the characters and setting.

Like many of my books, the idea for the story just came to me. One day, the entire opening sequences popped into my head and I knew I had to stop what I was doing start writing the book. At the time, I had the basic plot (Viking warrior falls in love with Celtic witch), but I wasn’t sure about the character names, their backstories, and the subplot. All of that came later, along with the secondary characters Brennan and Nordskog. (I’ll talk more about them next week.)

Scotland is a beautiful place and I’ve always wanted to set a book there. Having the story take place on the remote Orkney Islands added a sense of urgency and tension to the plot. In a sense, Rothgar and Odaria are “trapped” on the island and are forced to deal with angry villagers and the other Norsemen. The action is condensed into a few days on a very small island, so there’s nowhere for the characters to go. They’re forced to work together in order to get off the island – and survive.

Before I started writing,I had to do a lot research on where to set the story. I knew the book would take place in Scotland, where the Vikings traveled in their early years of exploration, but I didn’t want it to be a populated location. Once I decided on the Orkneys, I had to pick which island to set the story (there are 70 different islands, but today, only 20 are inhabited).

I also had to research what life was like at that time period for Odaria and Rothgar. (What kind of clothes? What food did they eat? How did Norsemen travel so far? What were their ships like?) Odaria and Rothgar come from different backgrounds and technically would have been speaking different languages, so I had to blend their two cultures together in a way that flowed with the book. (I guess it worked - the book has received several excellent reviews!)

And of course, if you were living in 803 with bands of Norsemen and crazy villagers, you can bet there was some measure of violence. Some readers might think that there’s no place for violence in a romance, but I believe including this type of realism enhances the story.

In 803, life was completely different from how we live now – especially on a remote island. People got hurt, sick, and died. The Viking’s Witch is about a violent man (Brennan) and a group of Norsemen with bad reputations, so the violence in the story is necessary to move the plot along while also helping the reader get deeper into the minds and lives of the characters. I included enough details to bring the story alive, yet showed how some degree of violence was necessary for Rothgar’s and Odaria’s survival.

I didn’t cringe when I wrote the “gritty” scenes; I was happy to include them. I like history and it drives me crazy when people in 1500 or 1870 are perfectly clean and neat and look like they stepped out of a beauty salon. Sorry, but if I’m writing a historical, my characters and settings are going to be as close to “real” as I can get them.

I hope you enjoyed Part One of this “Inside Look” at The Viking’s Witch. Next week, I’ll delve into the characters and discuss Odaria’s magic!

You can order a copy of the book here: 

Until next time,


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