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 
as he enters the halls of the Valkyrian Sanctum.
*otherwise known as my online mental asylum for the viking obsessive hehehe
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.

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