Monday, 25 March 2013

Valkyrie to Valkyrie : blog interview with Ingrid Paulson, author of Valkyrie Rising

I am very pleased to welcome to my humble blog full of all things nordic and vikingy one of my favourite Valkyrie-sisters author Ingrid Paulson, the proud creator of Valkyrie Rising.

Valkyrie Rising (Valkyrie, #1) 
'Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.
'

So once I have Ingrid settled comfortably in a silver chair with a pair of ravens perched on each arm rest, a horn of mead in one hand and a customary amber necklase as a welcome gift I quiz her on why she, like me, got into writing and not least of all, why she wrote about Valkyries in particular.

When did you first start to write?

I’ve actually been writing my whole life—I was a compulsive journaler and would sometimes venture into fiction.
 
When did you decide to try and get your writing published?


About five years ago, I wrote a novel.  I didn’t know what I was doing until I was done.  But when I showed the finished version to some friends, they all encouraged me to try to get it published.

How long did it take to write Valkyrie Rising? Did it require several rewrites or did you have a planned structure you stuck to?

It took about nine months to get a solid draft of VALKYRIE RISING to give to my agent.  But after that, we did some serious revising, and when the book sold, I re-wrote the ending three times with my editor.  So yes, I did some major rewrites to the book and I’m so grateful to my agent and editor for being so patient and wise!
 
What was your experience like when you tried to get Valkyrie Rising published? Did it take a few years done as an individual or did you have an agent to assist you?

The first novel I wrote got me an agent but ultimately didn’t sell, so when I completed Valkyrie Rising, it actually happened pretty quickly.  We did a couple of rounds of revisions before sending it out to editors.
 
How you would you describe your writing style? Are you an early bird or a late night owl? Do you prefer to be away from any distraction or can you write happily with the internet only a click away?


As funny as it sounds, all of the above.  It depends on what stage I’m in.  During the first draft, when my imagination is going wild, I can write anywhere and tune anything out.  I fall into fits of daydreaming in the middle of conversations and frantically jot the ideas down.  In other words, I’m horribly rude during that phase.  But when revising, I need quiet and I need to concentrate heavily.  To me, revising is like a logic puzzle—you need to read for consistency and address all the hanging threads in your manuscript.

How and when did you first get interested in Norse Mythology?

My family is of Norwegian descent and I actually came up with the idea while visiting family in Norway with my grandmother.  I knew it would be a perfect setting for a novel.  I wanted to write a girl power story about a character coming into her own, so the Valkyrie part came to me immediately.  The rest of the story just took shape around those two anchors.
 
Why did you pick Valkyries as the feature characters of your book?

I really like the idea of strong girls and few mythologies have anything like Valkyries.  The closes parallels I can find in the more well-known mythologies are Artemis and Athena.
 
How did you come up with the idea of using the Valkyrie’s good looks as a wicked enchantment?

You know, it actually wasn’t a conscious decision.  When I got to the first scene with the Valkyries in it, that was just how it played out.  Sometimes your imagination has surprises in store for you when you actually sit down to write a scene!
 
How and when did you come across the legend of the Morrigan? Is it something new and different or do you believe there is a genuine connection to the Valkyries of the Norse Legends? And why did you introduce it into Valkyrie Rising?

When I was young, we travelled to the coast of Britanny in France and I became captivated with the stone monoliths in Carnac.  That’s where the idea came from.  I really wanted to incorporate that mythology into the book plus upon further research I realized much of that region had been visited by the Vikings and there were definite parallels in the mythology.
 
Are any parts of your characters based on yourself or people you know?


Yes, actually quite a few of the secondary characters were influenced by family in Norway.  I’d say the grandmother is a bit like my own grandmother, who is tough as nails.  Ellie and Tucker are straight out of my imagination.
 
Did you find it easy to write in the mindset of a teenager?

I went to Norway when I was about Ellie’s age, so it was surprisingly easy to remember how I felt and what was going through my mind.
 
Tuck Holloway is a guy who says a lot with double meanings with all his come-backs and teases; did you find him the most fun to write?

I had too much fun writing him.  In fact, I miss him quite a bit! 
 
The way you portray Loki is very sinister and unsettling due to the way you utilise his shape-shifting abilities – it is one of his features as well as trickery and double-dealing that is picked up a lot in many other norse fantasies I have read, do you think Loki is entirely bad or one of those characters that likes to play sitting on the fence?

I think few characters are entirely bad, but in my mind, Loki is a villain who never quite crosses into unredeemable.  That’s my favorite kind of villain since it makes them more unpredictable.
 
Was teenage love and romance always going to feature strongly in Valkyrie Rising?


Yes.  The moment Tucker Halloway entered my brain, I knew exactly where the story was headed.  
 

Did you always aim Valkyrie Rising at teenagers due to the characters being teenagers?

Yes, I very specifically set out to write a YA novel and I wanted to show a girl at about that age who undergoes a major transformation in order to find the strength she’s always had.
 
Have you begun the sequel and when can we expect to be realised, if you can give us an estimate date?

Unfortunately, at this point, there are no plans for a sequel, but there is a prequel (http://www.epicreads.com/books/valkyrie-symptoms/9780062268716/).  Also, I’m working on a new project, and if you liked Tucker, you’ll love the new boy in my life…

I hope my few blog readers out there have their nordic taste buds tickled by this interview and I can't recommend Valkyrie Rising enough. It is an excellent read all the way through, reaches teenagers hearts and minds on so many levels, not just girls but boys also, is packed full of action, mystery, intrigue and magic - in fact why don't you just go ahead and click on the gorgeous book cover again to read my full official review.

Valkyrie Rising (Valkyrie, #1) 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Geist by Philippa Ballantine

Geist (Book of the Order, #1)Geist by Philippa Ballantine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It takes a lot for a fantasy writer to create a world with its own rules, characters and society to pull the reader in smoothly without requiring a huge prologue full of history and politics and I must say Philippa has pulled this off spectacularly well. She plunged the reader into the conflicted world of the living and the dead, the Actives and the Sensatives, the aristorcratic rulers and the powerful Deacons. And yet all bound up in the magical power struggle that radiates through it all from the first page to its epic climax of intense proportions, is a human story. Of a failing marriage and partnership, of the tenderness of facing challenges alone and relying on those you hardly know, of allowing yourself to trust and encourage trust in return, of upholding honour and truth in a world that becomes ever darker with lies and betrayal. And this is all beautifully explored through the ethereal power of the Bond between three very different characters that are drawn together through fate or traps and are ultimately relied on to save the lives of many. The action, tension, intrigue and emotions increase chapter by chapter and the middle section almost lets the reader think that finally things have been set right but its a classic 'they think it's all over moment' as events take another drastic turn as more truth is uncovered from the lies and deciets. I can't wait to start reading the second in the series, Spectyre to see what other jaw-dropping challenges these amazing characters face.
View all my reviews

Friday, 22 March 2013

Becky Bookworm Review: The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian

The Bleeding Land (Rivers Family, #1)The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For a girl with a viking heart I had to be brave and open minded when I decided to follow my favourite author into a period of history I have no clues about. At first I did feel uncomfortable as I adjusted my mind to the turmoil bubbling up in London with all the mention of papists and apprentices and riots flying around. However it is here that the beauty and strength of his writing really comes through. For this is not a story about Kings, princes, and soldiers but of the turmoil of one family. Of the bonds of blood, the loyalty of family, the unity of a family and the unfortunate divide between brothers. It is a story we can all relate to without having to know anything about where the story is set. I also was impressed by how much of a character and symbol the brother's individual mounts became, like animal-twins, used artisticly to display and match the mood and atmosphere throughout the story. I also loved the descriptions Giles used whenever there was a host of craws and rooks in the scenery. He uses them cleverly and differently each time to make each one uniquely powerful. Yet I noticed some nordic elements albeit behind the scenes so to speak in that each brother in their battles and wars discovers their own unique companions of war, sword-brothers, who prove as loyal as any band of viking warriors do to their chosen Jarl. That is the honourable side of vikings and indeed such partnerships are formed in any war/battle throughout history but there is also present the unhonourable aspects. In the form of the many mercenaries who join for gold not glory and make a strong and intimidating presence throughout the plot whether in person or in conversations.
As Giles himself points out in the afterword of the book he can name very few good fictional accounts of this period despite the vast number of authoratitive non-fiction and he couldn't understand why not until he himself started writing The Bleeding Land. Yet, as every good writer knows, if you get the majority of facts right, with a little artistic license, ultimately you should produce a good story at the least. And I can say that the human epic of family and loyalty set in this war torn environment is successfuly pulled off. If a viking-wanna-be like me can like it, I see no reason why others shouldn't.
View all my reviews

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Call of the Valkyries - Special LIMITED offer on TG Ayer's EPIC Dead Radiance Book

Hey guys,
For those who would like to share the 99c special on Dead Radiance here is a flyer you could share on FB/Twitter or on you blog. I'll add a file soon with the blurb and links to purchase as well as an author bio. And be sure to let me know if you are blogging about it so I can send peeps to your sites.
****The prize for this promo is a SIGNED COPY of DEAD RADIANCE made out to you or to a person of your choice. Keep it for yourself or use as a prize!****
"That day I knew for sure. I'd lost control of my tears then. They fell in huge, mocking drops. I stared at Joshua through those bitter tears, my heart missing beats as I tried to remember to breathe. I finally knew what the glow meant. I was a freak and Joshua was going to die." Bryn Halbrook had always seen the glow. But it is only when her best friend dies that she discovers the meaning of those beautiful golden auras - Death.
Alone, lost in the foster system, she struggles to understand who she is and why she was cursed with the ability to see the soon-to-be-dead. The new foster kid, Aidan, isn't helping any. Mr. Perfect seems to fit in no matter what, making her feel even more pathetic. But when his affections turn to her, Bryn finds him hard to resist. Impossible actually.
A mystery himself, Aidan disappears, leaving behind a broken heart and a mysterious book that suggests Bryn might not be entirely human. Bryn stands at the threshold of a journey of discovery. Will destiny help her find herself, find her purpose and her place in a world in which she'd never belonged?
For anyone who loves norse mythology, magic, thrills, adventure, strong willed teenager, supernatural beings and are bit tired of vampires, werewolves and witches - well then this will be a treat for you!

I have already read both Dead Radiance and the equally awesome Dead Embers (just scroll down after Dead Radiance) and am eagerly awaiting the final book. Click on the titles to see my own review of both to wet your appetite. Or if you want to know more about TG Ayer click on the link for my exclusive blog interview held shortly after Dead Embers was released.

And if after all of that you do decide to delve into the nordic world TG Ayer has brought to life then act quickly as this special offer ends after Sunday 17th March *TOMORROW*!

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