Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Vikings, Writing + More! Special Interview with author Giles Kristian! - Part of Odin's Wolves Blog Tour

My Valkyries shriek their death cries 
in honour of the arrival 
of viking novelist 
GILES KRISTIAN
as he enters the halls of the Valkyrian Sanctum.
*otherwise known as my online mental asylum for the viking obsessive hehehe
GILES KRISTIAN
THE THIRD RAVEN ADVENTURE NOVEL - ODIN'S WOLVES!
ME AND GILES KRISTIAN ON OUR FIRST ENCOUNTER AT THE FESTIVAL OF HISTORY 2010 - HE'LL BE THERE AGAIN THIS YEAR AND CURSE HIS ROTTEN LUCK SO WILL I *muwahahahahaah! :P*
First off I’d like to say a very big thank you Giles (and his Publicist Lynsey) for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to get to know better not only one of my newest and favourite Viking historical Viking authors (alongside great names like Bernard Cornwell, Tim Severin and Robert Low) but also as I’m a keen fan of all things ‘Vikingy’ and of course as I’m a writer myself who is weaving a bit of the Vikings (in particular their mythology and legends) into my own stories.
    I know I speak the minds of probably 100% of your fans when I say we are all going literally berserk with anticipation for your third (and hopefully not final) Raven adventure, Odin’s Wolves that’s been released on Thor’s-Day 14th April.
Now for those unlucky folk who have yet to praise his name or be hypnotised by the world of Raven here are my reviews of Raven Bloodeye (Book 1) and Sons of Thunder (Book 2) in this now complete trilogy.
RavenRaven by Giles Kristian


My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Giles leads readers into the grim yet fascinating world of middle age england through the character of Osric, a young man with no memory of his past apart from a blood ruined eye. His world is disturbed by the appearence of a group of norse traders unsettling him and his common folk. Yet the peace is further disturbed when the local priest tried to posion the Jarl Sigurd and Osric forewarns the Jarl of this trick. A fight ensues and men are killed yet Osric is spared only by the quickeness of his tongue in saving the Jarl's life. He is taken away from the land he knows of has home with the warband and so begins another new way of life for him, of praying to the old gods to calm the seas as he is brought up upon the longships, to hunger after treasure of silver and jewels but most of all the importance of the bond men as warriors forge and the fatal penalty due when any man breaks such an bond as the fellowship of norsemen.
A definite must buy and read ASAP for any fans of Robert Low and Bernard Cornwell. Giles Kristian is a new kid on the block in this genre and he is definitly as talented for telling a good saga of sword brothers as Low and Cornwell who've been masters for years.

Sons of Thunder: The Second Raven Adventure (Raven 2)Sons of Thunder: The Second Raven Adventure by Giles Kristian


My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book really does triumph as a sequel to Raven: Bloodeye. There's more drama, tension, suprises, battle and death as well a nice dollop of cunning in the new series of adventures experiecnes by Raven and his fellowship of Sigurd the Lucky. There's a even a bit of love thrown in for Raven but it has turned tainted and sour by the end of the book. And one character meets his ill-fated death by the hand of no norseman which is one of the many satisfying twists and turns Gile's weaves into his fine thrilling saga. All lovers of viking historical fiction should read this and take note of the amazing new young blooded talent that brings the lives of vikings once more into the fore of our imaginations.

View all my reviews

If these reviews are wetting your bookworm's taste buds for his brilliant viking saga go buy them!

I’ve decided to use this very generous opportunity to pick apart your Viking brain by asking a few of your fans here at Huddersfield New College, whom I know loved your Raven books, what questions they would like to ask you. So the first round is questions from me the latter half is from more of your fans.
    Right, please allow my questions to rampage and raid into the deepest part of your Norse mind and come back laden with the golden trinkets of your knowledge. I promise no rape or hall burning will take place during the event hehehe.

1.    As you grew up with a Norwegian mother, did you ever spend much time living in your ancestral homeland of Norway?

Norway has topped the United Nations’ global list of the best countries to live in for the last eight years. Growing up, I spent many holidays there. We have a cottage on the west coast about an hour’s drive from Bergen. It sits on an island overlooking a stunningly beautiful fjord and I have always enjoyed being around boats and fishing and ‘living’ a more simple life, if only in short stints. Then it’s back to London or New York or nowadays Leicestershire.

2.    Have you always been curious about Viking culture and history?


The land and seascape of the fjords has always proved an incredibly fertile environment for my imagination. I would conjure images of long ships threading their way through the countless tree-crowned islands, their oar banks beating like great wings, men at prow and stern looking out for submerged rocks. I would imagine families running down to the waterline to welcome their menfolk back from a raid, hoping to catch a glimpse of their loved ones at the benches. It’s so easy to picture these things because the islands are only sparsely populated and much of the scenery looks exactly the same now as it would have done a thousand years ago. You can touch a rock above the water line and imagine that a Viking touched that same rock all those years ago.

3.    When you were first writing Raven: Blood Eye, what made you decide to try and get it published?

It was always my dream to become an author. It took me a very long time to get the agent and the publishing deal, and I have enough rejection slips to wallpaper my study! But I absolutely refused to accept defeat. Not being published was simply not an option. If you write, you want other people to read it. I don’t believe anyone who says otherwise.

4.    Did you do any practical research such as visit museums to see genuine historical artefacts or visit places of historical importance to the period?

Seeing genuine artefacts (or faithful reproductions) with your own eyes is essential if you want to get under the skin of the people who made them. In fact, it was when I was standing in the incredible Viking Ship Museum in Oslo that I began weaving in my mind the idea of the RAVEN story. Similarly, I can go to the British Museum and stand in front of the Sutton Hoo treasure completely awe-struck. I could stare at it for hours. My deepest frustration in life – and this is on a cellular level – is knowing I can never go back and see the past with my own eyes. That is why I write historical fiction. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to a time machine.

5.    Did you do any research into the Norse Gods, Legendary characters or sagas?

The sagas are great fun. Obviously the most famous saga writer is Snorri Sturluson, and his King Harald’s Saga was definitely an inspiration to me when writing the RAVEN series. Another favourite of mine is The Saga of The Jomsvikings translated from the Old Icelandic by Lee. M. Hollander. These stories are so rich and wonderful and serve as a fantastic source of information about the Viking world despite being written long after the events they describe.  

6.    How long did it take you to write each of the Raven books?

I wrote Blood Eye in bits and pieces over a couple of years. I didn’t have an agent or a publishing deal at the time and so I had to fit my writing around other work. Now I am contracted to deliver a new novel every year, which is doable. The first in a new series will usually take the longest because of the initial research. After that you’re on a roll. In theory.

7.    Did you find it harder or easier to write Sons of Thunder and Odin’s Wolves after Raven’s success?

I found it easier because I was so thrilled to have a publishing deal. There’s no better motivation to finish that WORD doc. than knowing that your publisher is going to turn it into a beautiful shiny hardback! Moreover, the more you write the better you become at writing. Also, the further into the series you are, the better you know your characters and the world you’ve created. To my mind Odin’s Wolves is the best of the three. 

8.    How you would you describe the way your write? Casual or disciplined? Free flow or planned and plotted?

I usually stick to a 9-5 type discipline. This doesn’t sound very artistic but it does mean that I’m free in the evenings and weekends to enjoy life with family and friends like a normal person. Being an author doesn’t impact on my social life at all. Having said that, I do fancy experiencing a writing retreat. I recently watched the movie Tamara Drewe and thought a writing retreat could be worth a try. As for plotting, I’m very free with that. I have vague ideas about where I’m going but mostly the story weaves itself as I go along. It’s more exciting for me that way.

9.    Can you recommend one fact and one fiction book that involves Vikings?

The Vikings by the late Magnus Magnusson has never been far away as I’ve been writing the RAVEN novels. It’s a wonderfully written history that just leaps off the page. As for fiction, I’d recommend Robert Low’s Oathsworn series. Rob is a friend and a truly talented writer.


Terry Murphy, my boss and Senior Librarian at HNC asks:

1.    Why do you think the ‘whole Viking thing’ is so popular? (after all they did some terrible things)


I think it’s the same reason people like anything to do with pirates. There is a tremendous sense of Vikings having lived outside the law. That they did whatever they wanted and answered to no one. There is often something alluring about not conforming. On the one hand you’ve got the image of the pious Christians; monks, nuns and laymen constrained by religious laws and the moral teachings of their faith, and on the other hand these fun-loving pagans who spent their days drinking and feasting and stealing anything that took their fancy. I’m stereotyping here, of course, but if I had to choose between the life of a monk and the life of a Viking…well, I’m guessing it’s fairly obvious which I’d choose.  As for them doing some terrible things, they certainly did. But then they were not alone. The light of Christendom, the Emperor Charlemagne himself, was reported to have executed 4,500 captive rebel Saxons in 782 because they would not convert to Christianity!

2.    Can you read the runes?

No I can’t. There are many different ways to read runes and it can be a complicated business. In fact there are several different runic alphabets. The three best-known are the Elder Futhark, the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, and the Younger Futhark. I do, however, have a runic tattoo, though you’ll have to guess what it says. 

3.    Do you believe in having ‘second sight’? Foreseeing the future, using seidr magic for example? Have you had any such experiences?

I could write a book just trying to answer this question! The short answer is that I believe there are many things which we do not understand and for which we do not have scientific explanations. I believe that thoughts can jump from one person’s brain to another’s. I believe dreams can sometimes show us glimpses of the future. I have experienced both of these things but I do not have names or further explanations for any of it. 


Kelsey Holdsworth, student at HNC who eagerly reviewed Raven Bloodeye, asks:

1.    What inspired you to go into writing?


I have always had two passions; expressing myself through writing, and history. Being an historical novelist I get to indulge both of these passions and get paid for it. There is no job in the world I would rather do.

2.    Did you do a lot of research for your stories?

I guess I did, though it never really felt like research because I have been learning about Vikings and their world all my life. That passion and knowledge just seeped into the books as I went along. 
3.    Will there be a 4th book of Raven?

Yes! But we will have to wait for a little while. My motley crew deserve a rest after all they’ve been through.

Thank you ever so much for this interview, Giles, it has proved greatly interesting and revealing and I’m sure all the fans with any interest in Vikings have enjoyed it.

Well, for any blog readers who haven’t read Giles’ Raven trilogy, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR! Read my reviews and Amazon book  links and details below to tempt you down the vikingr path of the Dark Ages where you will discover adventure, honour and brotherhood galore. Keep a look out on YouTube as well on gileskristian1 channel for his exclusive special Odin's Wolves Prologue short film trailer! I've already had a sneak peak and this trilogy should soooooooooooooo be made it into a movie!

Also follow this link to Leicester Radio, scroll the bar until its just before 2 hours in and you will come to the part where Giles is live with the presenter for a WHOLE HOUR! http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00g03kx 

I cannot recommend it enough – Giles is definitely the new kid on the block in this genre but his story gives Vikings a boost in fresh blood and imagination to stir the inner wandering warrior in us all.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Dreamers of Dreams Anthology of Webfiction Volume 1 - Free eBook containing my Valkyries and a lot, lot more!!!

Dreamers of Dreams: Anthology of Webfiction
Volume 1
is NOW AVAILABLE via Scribd



April 11, 2011 marks the release of the first volume of Dreamers of Dreams: A Webfiction Anthology. This Ebook release, released simultaneously on several popular Ebook and webfiction stores, is a free book containing excerpts and opening chapters of several web fiction novels currently available for free online. The offerings of the Anthology include both completed works, and novels currently being serialized. A wide variety of genres is represented, from superhero to zombie apocalypse, urban fantasy to science fiction, folk tale to murder mystery, space opera to high fantasy. The purpose of this first installment of what promises to be a regularly released anthology series is to introduce the Ebook reader to free fiction available online that they may not be aware of, and highlight promising new writers who are taking the risks of self publishing online.
Volume one of Dreamers of Dreams will include the following authors and stories:
Ted Campbell – Flyover City!
Eva Shandor – Cold Ghost
Cassandra Stryffe – Zombie Diapers
Bex Aaron – Independence Day
J.J. Adams – The Undeadslayer
Alexander Hollins – Phoenix 2125
Rebecca Wilson – Soul Chaser
Christopher Wright – Pay Me, Bug!
Kyt Dotson – Black Hat Magick
G.L. Drummond – Midnight Intentions
Miladysa – Refuge of Delayed Souls
Meilin Miranda – Scryer’s Gulch
M.E. Traylor – Guts and Sass
The anthology is created and distributed by DreamFantastic Publishing, and more information on the anthology, as well as links to the individual authors represented within, can be found at http://www.dreamfantastic.com/anthology/
A .99 cent version of the anthology, the Author’s Support Edition, will be sold starting the end of April, and will contain additional bonus content from many of the represented authors.  
Any questions or concerns, as well as requests to be included in future anthology’s, should be directed to Editor@dreamfantastic.com.

You can find my new Official Blurb for Soul Chaser and Chap 1 in this fantastic anthology of new writers and writing talent. 
Here's a sneaky peak to wet your norse fantasy appetite...

The Anthology will become available in more places over the next few weeks such as Smarhwords, Nook and for Amazon Kindle when we release the special 'Author Support' edition around the end of April.

In the second release of Volume 1 of this amazing Anthology, where it will only cost $0.99 to download, my 
EXCLUSIVE SOUL CHASER CONTENT
will be
Photographs of genuine places found in York (aka Jorvik) that inspired and are featured not just in Chapter 1 but in following Chapters including those I haven't released online yet. I might also throw in a few other suprise extras but it's proving soo hard to make my mind up. Either way the story location photographs are a guarantee.

So why not download the Free edition now, let your imagination take you on the many adventures and experiences inside and I'm sure it will leave you wanting more at the end of the pages to follow our blog links, read more of our online content and maybe just put a few little pennies towards the Exclusive Content Author Support Edition that's coming to an E-reader near you soooon!
ENJOY!


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Happy Thors-Day! Celebrate the release of Odin's Wolves by Giles Kristian + Soul Chaser in Dreamers of Dreams Anthology!

Thursday 14th 2011 is a very special day for 2 (not just 1) very important reasons:
ODIN'S WOLVES BY GILES KRISTIAN
AND 
SOUL CHASER CHAPTER 1 
"The Old Ways Never Die" DEBUT IN
DREAMERS OF DREAMS ANTHOLOGY OF WEBFICTION EBOOK
IS RELEASED INTO THE WORLD TODAY!

Me and Giles Kristian at The Festival of History 2011 (proudly wearing my Soul Chaser t-shirt)

Raven: Odin's Wolves (Raven #3)
Odin's Wolves Book Cover

So in order to celebrate these two special events occuring on Thor's-Day I am repeating my reviews of Giles Kristian's earlier Raven viking historical novels in this trilogy (Odin's Wolves being the third) to give you viking fans a flavour of his superb talent.

  
RavenRaven by Giles Kristian



My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Giles leads readers into the grim yet fascinating world of middle age england through the character of Osric, a young man with no memory of his past apart from a blood ruined eye. His world is disturbed by the appearence of a group of norse traders unsettling him and his common folk. Yet the peace is further disturbed when the local priest tried to posion the Jarl Sigurd and Osric forewarns the Jarl of this trick. A fight ensues and men are killed yet Osric is spared only by the quickeness of his tongue in saving the Jarl's life. He is taken away from the land he knows of has home with the warband and so begins another new way of life for him, of praying to the old gods to calm the seas as he is brought up upon the longships, to hunger after treasure of silver and jewels but most of all the importance of the bond men as warriors forge and the fatal penalty due when any man breaks such an bond as the fellowship of norsemen.

A definite must buy and read ASAP for any fans of Robert Low and Bernard Cornwell. Giles Kristian is a new kid on the block in this genre and he is definitly as talented for telling a good saga of sword brothers as Low and Cornwell who've been masters for years.
View all my reviews





My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book really does triumph as a sequel to Raven: Bloodeye. There's more drama, tension, suprises, battle and death as well a nice dollop of cunning in the new series of adventures experiecnes by Raven and his fellowship of Sigurd the Lucky. There's a even a bit of love thrown in for Raven but it has turned tainted and sour by the end of the book. And one character meets his ill-fated death by the hand of no norseman which is one of the many satisfying twists and turns Gile's weaves into his fine thrilling saga. All lovers of viking historical fiction should read this and take note of the amazing new young blooded talent that brings the lives of vikings once more into the fore of our imaginations.


If you liked the sound of this you simply MUST come back to the Sanctum on Tuesday 19th April (next week!) when I reveal my Odin's Wolves special interview with Giles Kristian himself as part of his bookshop and blog tour to celebrate the completion of the trilogy. Just check out the poster for where else you can catch him and his viking band. Click on the poster to open it up as PDF.


 NOW to my small SOUL CHASER DEBUT! 

 The free eBook Dreamers of Dreams Anthology of Webfiction has and has not been released.
Unforutenately releasing of the collection was put back from Monday 11th the hoped for official release date to roughly today due to various eBook sites wanting the anthology in a different format each time which meant our poor editor Alex Hollins has been busy rushing through so many changes. But today he managed to release it via the Scribd site (albeit without its official cover image design due to the designer having a lot of bad luck in life recently) BUT there is a small light at the end of this long tunnel of a week we've been waiting. You can now view the Anthology on Scribd at this link and download it as PDF all for FREE! We know it's a bit bland without any images etc but hey just let the words of our stories carry you away and your imagination will make it come to life :)

Just be warned that depending on what Browser you use, Firefox, Explorer, Chrome etc it may or may not display correctly but just download it as PDF and it should work fine :) *Hint I'm on page 37!*

It will be further released on Smashwords,  IBooks, and Nook store for free download with the offical cover image when that's sorted too.
OR
You could hold on until after easter, at the end of the month, when we're releasing our special 'Author Support' edition of the Anthology just costs $0.99 where you get the same stories but EXCLUSIVE CONTENT INCLUDED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SO you might get an extra story behind the main feature, character profiles, author profiles, art work from the stories, sneak peaks at future chapters and all sorts! 
For my EXCLUSIVE SOUL CHASER CONTENT I will be revealing with photographs the actual REAL PLACES IN YORK that feature in scenes in not just CHAPTER ONE but following chapters! 

And that's all my good news for this Thor's-Day. Hope to see you all back here for more special Viking treats on Tuesday 19th April for my interview with viking author Giles Kristian as we disuss vikings, research, history and heritage, inspiration, his writing, more viking books and he tackles a few more questions from my friends who are also big fans.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Odin's Magic Number 3 - 3 days until a week full of Viking Madness begins! Come share and spread some Viking love!

           Odin's Magic Number is 3

The Number 3 is used quite regularly in Norse Mythology which is quite ironic as there is only

3 DAYS TO GO until Soul Chaser is released into the world as part of the Dreamers of Dreams Webfiction Anthology E-Book
 on Monday 11th April!

Anyway, back in my homage to Norse Mythology you will see above the image of Odin's holy symbol, the Valknut, or Death Knot, made of THREE TRIANGLES eternally locked together. You will also see an image of the THREE Norns who live at one of the THREE ROOTS of Yggdrasil the World Tree. There are also 3 Ages of Ragnarok, Age of the Everlasting Winter, Age of the Wolf and Age of the Sword/Axe.
I even use the number 3 in Soul Chaser. Jenny must stamp her spear on the ground 3 times before summoning a soul and at the golden gates of Asgard upon the rainbow bridge Bitfrost before being allowed to enter.
Another interesting occurance of the number 3 recently is Giles Kristian's 3rd book in the Raven Trilogy 'Odin's wolves' is being released next week on Thors-day 14th April.
The number 3 also appears in the number of questions that will be asked as part of Giles's Bookshop and Blog Tour (visiting the Valkyrian Sanctum on Tuesday 19th April) special interview with me where will discuss all things viking from research to vikings in writing. As I wrote up 9 questions (which is 3 times 3) and then I got two fellow fans from work to ask him 3 questions each as well! Click on the Tour poster for a better view of the details.

So really you all have 3 things to do next week:
1 - Join me on Monday 11th to Celebrate Soul Chaser featuring Chapter 1 in the Dreamers of Dreams Anthology of Webfiction (download details will be provided on the day it's FREE!)

2 - Follow the newest kid on the block in the genre of Viking Fiction, Giles Kristian (www.gileskristian.com) as he visits Bookshops, Blogs and Websites revealing the long awaited Raven book trailer film, exclusive excerpts from Odin's Wolves and special interviews (including with ME!) Oh and I GREATLY recommend you buy the entire Raven trilogy.
In fact to help you along please find the links below to my beserk and raving mad reviews of his first 2 books

3 - Return to the Valkyrian Sanctum on Tuesday 19th April to join me for an interview on vikings, research, writing, reading and heritage with Giles Kristian himself.

The surge in the presence of Number 3 I can only take as a good omen that Odin and the rest of the Norse Pantheon are pleased with the great list of Viking events and festivities that are due to take place of the next coming week. So don't grudge the Gods! Come share, enjoy and spread the Viking Love!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Becky Bookworm Book Review - Ordinary Angels by India Drummond

Ordinary AngelsOrdinary Angels by India Drummond

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I think I can best describe this book as a Ghost Whisperer meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It does feature a young woman who has a secret talent for seeing and talking to the ghosts of those long since dead and something even more unusual than ghosts steps into her life.
In the guise of a postman an Angel has decided to get a closer perspective on human life and Zoe is swept up into the celestial affairs of these higher beings. Things take a turn for the worse in their budding relationship when Alexander ends up being cast down from grace due to their attraction and her ghost best friend msyteriously vanishes and a human dies in his haunting place. Zoe becomes his advocate and works between and across worlds, discovering not only how the celestial bodies of Angels work in their own society (and on a more personal intimate level) but how even after death and beyond everyone and everything is never as they appear. Motives, lies, laws and secrets of the past will pull and push Zoe's new relationship to the limits as she tries to discover the truth about her deceased friend and on the way her powers become stronger and scarier so on top of providing divine justice and relationship troubles Zoe must find it in herself to make sure her growing powers do not prove to be the cause of her own downfall.

When you first read the story you really are thrown into the deep end and the situation is imemdiatly made clear yet despite it being told in third person it feels remarkably like a first person narrative due to the closeness the narrator takes to Zoe and it helps the story flow much easier. Although the story is set in America it didn't feel entirely like America to me. But I kind of read on despite that. At first the story does seem to centre on Zoe and Alexander's relationship and the complications of it - it's only after many chapters you reach the part of Henry's disappearence that you really grip the pages as events and circumstances all become entwined in a major divine puzzle you can't help follow Zoe through to work out.

On the whole though it is a delightful read and I love the darkness India has given all her angels, even the good ones when they show their true colours in a way most of us wouldn't believe but it really does define the characters as each Angel has a different form. It is funny, touching and quite gripping in places and is definitely a more adult and unique twist on the scenario of Angels and Humans in love compared to what Angel fiction there is in YA. I personally don't believe the depiction on the cover image is what I imagined Zoe to be, she in my mind is quite a plain yet pretty gal but I guess in the end she also turns out to be a beautiful killer.



View all my reviews

You can buy and download Ordinary Angels via Amazon here -

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