Sunday, 14 April 2013

Valkyrie to Valkyrie - Blog interview with Saranna DeWylde, author of 'Ride of the Darkyrie' series

Please give a winged welcome to another fellow norse myth and valkyrie fan, author of the epic Ride of the Darkyrie series, Saranna DeWylde.

Saranna has written a norse fantasy series (that ultimately makes up an entire novel) that has put a whole new twist on the ideal of a Valkyrie and most noticably the figure of Hel. Plus she's added an interesting mix of murder and crime AND it is beautifully dark in places. This is most definitely a norse fantasy with a dark and bloody twist that is fresh, innovative and truly original as the main character is a whole new breed of Valkyrie.
The series is currently available in 4 parts:

Part 1: Waking the Queen
'Detective Brynn Hill is on the hunt for an angel of mercy killer who’s been targeting war veterans. Once Brynn has a killer in her sites, there’s no escape. She’s a hunter of hunters: judge, jury and executioner for those who slip through the cracks in the system. But her angel of mercy killer isn’t what she seems. She’s a Valkyrie sent to bring fallen warriors home and trigger Brynn’s journey to ascension.
Brynn is more than just a cop, more than just the screwed up daughter of an infamous serial killer. She is the Darkyrie Helreggin. The Queen of Hel born again to cage the evil that no other power can. It’s her destiny to lead the armies of the damned and fulfill a birthright that will change the nine worlds forever.
If a mysterious, scarred assassin doesn’t kill her first.'

Part 2: A Siren's Song
'A new serial killer is hunting in Kansas City. He’s brutal and prolific, leaving two victims at a time. Detective Brynn Hill is on the case, but it’s not business as usual for the hunter of hunters. For the first time since becoming a cop, Brynn is out of her depth. The murders pull her deeper into a supernatural society where street gangs are run by demons and nothing is what it seems. Her world crumbles, the foundations smashed by her failure to save a fellow officer and the siren assassin who blames Helreggin for his scars and his mother’s death.
Brynn’s partner is there to pick up the pieces, but even Jason can’t keep her safe from the dark forces that want to stop her from reclaiming her throne as the Queen of Hel.'

 Part 3: The Hunter
 'The Capri Killer's silence has given Brynn a chance to clean up her mess, but she finds her every action pulls her deeper into a web of myths and half-truths. No one is what they seem and even the one man she made the mistake of trusting has an endgame.'

 Part 4: The Capri Killer
 'The darkness that allows Detective Brynn Hill to hunt the hunters is a ticking bomb. Only the human connection her father demanded she shun keeps her beast in its cage and slows the countdown to detonation.
When the Capri Killer targets the two people who represent her humanity, Brynn is faced with a terrible choice. Surrender her body to Helreggin and save them knowing it's the first taste of her death--or unleash the monster and save herself.'

Saranna graciously took the time to answer quite a few questions I had on her developing series, her ideas, her interest in Norse mythology, writing experience etc and maybe what readers of the series have to look forward to.

1.    You have taken a key element of Valkyries in claiming the souls of the dead but given it a very original, fresh and beautifully dark twist. Where did the idea for Darkyrie come from?

Questions about where my ideas come from are always tough to answer. They just sort of hatch like a little book egg in my brain, scenes begin to play themselves out and I write them down. I often compare myself to a cosmic secretary.

2.    Did you know much about Norse mythology and Valkyries before hand?

I did. I’m a voracious reader and mythology and folklore have always been a favorite topic of mine.

3.    Do you have any favourite Norse myths or Norse mythical characters?

I really enjoyed the story of Brynhildr. It’s very angsty and full of drama. It’s why I named the character Brynn.

4.    Where did the character of Helreggin come from? Is there any mythical base for her or just your imagination?

I was pretty true to the myth in many aspects. Helreggin is the ruler of Hel, daughter of Loki and a giantess. She’s mentioned in the Prose Edda.

5.    Was it a similar situation in regards to the Siren character?

No, the siren character has lived in my head for a long time. In Greek mythology, sirens supposedly seduced men and consumed them. With all that seduction going on, one would think there would have been offspring. Especially because in the Greek mythos, the supernatural and humans were always producing offspring. I always wondered what a male siren would be like. The imagery has married itself with my love of the Phantom of the Opera and the Cross was born.

6.    Did you always intend for Bryn and Helreggin to be quite separate characters regardless of the reincarnation aspect? I presumed upon reading Part 1 Waking the Queen that Bryn would grow in power and knowledge to become Helreggin. But of course as I continued to read the four other parts of this saga that turned out not to be the case.

That’s what I thought, too. *laughs* It may still develop that way. But as I was writing, Brynn’s voice became stronger and she didn’t want to be something else. She wanted to be Brynn. I think maybe she sees them as two separate beings and it won’t be until she accepts that they’re not that she can truly ascend and claim her power. I think that speaks to a lot of us on a basic level, that when we grow up, when we become these people that everyone in our lives is always assuming we’ll be, that we’ll forget to be who we are now, forget what makes us happy and forget how to be happy, if that makes sense.

7.    Did you always intend to have other mythical characters involved? I won’t name them but you have a handful including some not from Norse mythology.

That’s the way the story came to me. But many of my paranormals have developed that way. I like the idea that everyone’s belief system has a basis in truth.

8.    Did you intend for the story to have a strong crime/detective and murder theme or was it an additional twist when you had settled on the mythical characters and the way they worked and behaved? Because it is a mix I haven’t come across before and it does seem to be the ideal role for a Valkyrie-esque character of any type to be in.

Again, all I can say is that’s just the way it came to me.

9.    I particularly loved the way you started the story by setting the rich dark history of Bryn with her father as a serial killer and the loss of her daughter. The most memorable moment was when Bryn makes a mistake and so Erik tortures a woman as a way of telling Bryn off psychologically. Did you have to do much planning when it comes to creating the history for all these characters?

Not at all. That’s just part of who she is and how she started speaking to me. But it’s not a tough leap for me to make. I was a corrections officer and I worked in an all male max facility, so I heard darker, more terrible things on a daily basis from people I had to interact with.

10.    In the first part, Waking the Queen, Bryn physically has her human heart taken from her by another Valkyrie, one of Odin’s, not Hel’s. It seemed quite a major thing in the first part but in the other parts of the story it seems to have fallen into the background – when you have finally finished the Darkyrie Saga will the reader and Bryn learn why it happened and what she can do to get her heart back? As well as learn why the Valkyrie performed such an act in the first place?

Yes. She had to lose her heart to drive the point home that she’s not human. She needs that validation of her own mythology as much as anyone. She’s latched on these ideas of who she is and she’s been told who she’s supposed to be, but like any one of us, she has to make that journey herself. Book 2 is called Heart of the Darkyrie and will delve further into what this means for her. It’s also one of the seven trials she has to complete before she can ascend. Each step take her closer to divinity, but also her humanity. She begins this journey in one place, thinking she’s one thing, but at the end of it, she’ll be more human than any of us. And I think that fits with how myths, legends and folklore were always intended to be used. They’re ways for us to connect and decipher the world around us. In all of these stories, across cultures, these beings always have hyper-representations of human emotion. From jealousy and rage to love and devotion. It’s like taking a highlighter to the best and worst of us.

11.    There is quite a sexual undertone running in some of the more intimidating scenes where Bryn is usually dealing with one of the several male characters, good and bad, was that always intended? I do believe you do it justice in that it isn’t too graphic and isn’t used to be sexual for the sake of it as each occurrence does add that bit of depth and impact to the scenes involved.

Thank you! I think sex is a big part of the human experience. It can be used to motivate us for both good and ill, and has a huge impact on our psyches. It’s both one of the most primal and basic of human experiences, but it’s so complicated as well. It serves as a tool to start Brynn on her path to humanity and how she relates. Sociopaths and psychopaths don’t relate to sex in the same way as the rest of the population and giving her these experiences makes her identify with the prey over the predators.

12.    Having just finished part four, The Capri Killer, I am delighted you have brought in the characters of the Norse wolves, Fenrir, Hati and Skol and the way you’ve personified them is really good. I could almost imagine them as real life TV characters, like the way supernatural beings are on TrueBlood for example. Are you influenced at all by the popularity in books and TV series featuring supernatural beings in modern/normal situations?

I think writers are always influenced by the culture around them, but again, I think it relates back to the intent and purpose of mythology. When these stories and legends were first circulating, the characters were all interacting in what were modern and normal situations for the time and the culture. So I think that’s normal and should be expected.

13.    In the saga there is mention and appearance of a book called the Hel Cycle. Is this a new Norse myth you developed specifically to be the main pivot the characters and plot revolve around? How did you go about it?

The idea of the Hel Cycle is based on the Eddas, but other than that, it’s a product of my imagination. Oral tradition in songs and poetry were a large part of ancient Norse culture. It would make sense that there would be some record of her great deeds.

14.    The plot evolves with each new part of Darkyrie with new characters, revelations, threats. Did you have to plan it all out before writing it or did the plot lay itself out naturally?

I’m not a plotter, I write everything as it comes to me, but I did have sort of a general idea of major plot points and their resolution. I have pages and pages of notes for things that have happened, how it will impact the plot and character arc in future books all pushing toward an ultimate resolution.

15.    Would you mind explaining why you decided to release Darkyrie in novella like segments before finally taking the decision to release the rest in more or less full novel form?

I enjoy the serial format and I think the constant hook is fun, like episodes from a TV series. Other authors have had success with the format in erotica, so I decided to try it. While it was fun, it seemed that a lot of readers felt like they were being swindled to pay more money for a book. Which of course wasn’t the case, I plan to release all four parts together and it will be the same price as the individual components. I did hear from a lot of readers who didn’t care for the format, so I decided to keep the rest in novel form.

16.    How long did it take you to write Darkyrie parts 1-4?

That is also a tough question. I don’t usually make note of things like that because normally, I just sit down and work on a book consistently until it’s finished. Although, I struggle with ADHD and recently, I’ve had some changes in some other medication that affected my coping skills. Basically, I had none. That derails the writing in a major way. When I’m functioning well, I write around 10K a day.

17.    Did you have to spend a lot of time rewriting or changing the plot slightly?

Not really. Not to say there haven’t been bumps—I deleted the third instalment twice.

18.    How far are you in completing the rest of the saga?

I have synopses for the other five books completed, but as for the actual writing, nothing else is completed yet. But I’ve promised Heart of the Darkyrie will release in 2013. Depending on what my other contractual obligations are, I may have Sword of the Darkyrie out this year as well.

19.    How did you go about publishing and releasing the parts of Darkyrie for Kindle? Was it independently, with a publisher or through an agent?

Darkyrie made the New York rounds with my agent, but didn’t find a home so I decided to indie publish it. It’s been through the same kind of edits and polishing as all of my trad published books.

20.    Do you have a specific time when you write? For example early in the morning, on an afternoon, late at night?

I prefer to write when I first get up, which is usually about mid-morning, but I write whenever I can. My day consists of getting up, working out, and then I write until my kids come home from school. Then I spend time with them, make dinner, household stuffs, etc., until they go to bed and then I write some more. Work out again. Then write until my eyes cross.

21.    Have you read any other fiction involving Norse mythology or Valkyries? If so are there any you would recommend?

I really loved Forged By Fate by Amalia Dillon. She utilizes several pantheons aside from the Norse, but it’s a great book. Another favorite is Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series. Her Valkyries are amazing.

22.    With the popularity of Vampires in modern fiction/TV/Film and the slow rise of other mythical creatures/beings such as Werewolves, Angels, Witches, etc do you believe the modern audience will welcome the introduction of Valkyries and other Nordic characters just as easily? Or will the lack of knowledge and even awareness of this vast mythology hinder it?

I think if an author creates a compelling character that audiences will welcome them regardless of their origin. But with the success of Thor, I’m sure audiences are even more open to seeing other examples of those kinds of characters.

23.    Do you have any advice for writers out there who are also dabbling with mythological characters and tales?

Write. There will be readers for any story you want to tell.

24.    Can you give us any clues as to what awaits Bryn in the final part of Darkyrie and when it may be available?

Since I’m planning on a total of 6 books, the final book most likely won’t be out until ’15. Two books this year, two books in ’14 and two in ’15. Although, it’s possible it could be sooner.
In the last book, Brynn will have some hard choices to make because she’ll have come to the end of her journey—to the fate that each trial has prepared her for. That’s really all I can say about it right now. 

Thanks so much for having me and for the thoughtful questions.

Buy links: (For Epub, Pdf formats)


  1. Great interview Saranna! I'm shivering with anticipation as I haven't read part 4 yet ;-) Hoping to start it today!

  2. Yay! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    I hope 4 lives up to your expectations and I'm so grateful you took Brynn's journey with me.


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