1: So first off why Vikings? Is if for the relatively
unknown connection with America?
HG: I became interested in Vikings as a child, when I realized
my maiden name would've been Thorvaldsson if my great-grandfather hadn't
changed it to "Day" when he emigrated to America from Norway. That
side of the family was allegedly related to Eirik the Red and Leif Eiriksson,
so I started reading up on the Icelandic saga accounts of Eirik's family. I
stumbled into the tale of Gudrid, a ward of Eirik the Red and a Viking
Christian who sailed to North America, where she gave birth to the first
recorded European baby to be born on that continent. Although it seemed
daunting, I wanted to write her story, as well as the story of Freydis, another
(in)famous Viking warrior woman who was Eirik the Red's daughter. I wish
American history included more about these brave women's stories.
2: This is really two questions, but I have noticed that your
‘Vikings of the New World’ saga alongside a lot of my favourite Christian
Medieval novels don’t ‘fit’ the typical mould of Romance or Fantasy, and also
tend to be self-published, or from smaller publishing houses. Do you think
there’s still a gap in the market for these kind of books?
HG: Of course, the one exception that I can think of in terms of
the major Christian Publishers are Lion Fiction/Kregel who have produced a lot
of non-Romantic and literary Medieval fiction in the last few years. Of course,
what stands out about them is that they’re UK based, and they are prepared to
accept more ‘edgy’ content. So do you think there’s a cultural difference in
tastes and reception of these kinds of books (between America and Europe)? Why?
To answer the first part: Yes, many authors go indie because
publishers aren't looking for what they're writing—and I'd imagine women's
fiction/saga historicals aren't nearly as popular as fantasy or romantic
historicals. When I submitted God's
Daughter four years ago, Christian book publishers were not looking for
anything set outside the USA, much less a Viking-era tale.
That's an interesting observation about Kregel (the American
imprint of Lion), because it is the one publisher that seriously considered God's Daughter. In the end, they didn't
feel they could market it (keep in mind this was three years ago, before there
was much Medieval Christian fiction at all. Also at that time, Regency was just
getting popular, which finally featured a non-USA setting).
Part of the reason I wanted to go indie is because I knew
Vikings were on the upswing (the Thor and
How to Train your Dragon movies were
out then, and soon after I published God's
Daughter, the Vikings miniseries
released on The History Channel). I knew, from the interest in my posts and
pins about Vikings, that I could market my book to a solid niche base of
readers and hopefully build from there.
I know there are cultural differences between the US and UK
Christian publishing houses, such as Kregel/Lion, but I appreciate that both
Kregel and Lion are getting unusual books out to readers who are anxious for
out-of-the-box tales. But in the end, it comes down to what an individual
publisher is looking for, and often these more obscure time periods/locales
don't fit the bill. This is where indie books definitely fill a gap.
3: Favourite character and why? What would you change about
them if you could (though of course you cannot as they’re historical figures?)
HG: Of the Viking characters I've written? That's tough! They
really all seem to be alive and walking Vikings of
the New World Saga, I'd probably say Freydis, since she really grew on me,
although I will say that I'm also rather infatuated with Thorfinn Karlsefni
(Gudrid's husband). Although Leif Eiriksson really cracks me up sometimes.
4: You may know that I harbour ambitions to one day write a
novel about a very strong and formidable Anglo-Saxon Lady with a Christian
slant, which would almost certainly have to be part of a series. Any tips and
HG: I really hope you do, because I'd enjoy reading that series!
I'd just say that it's really important not to info-dump on the historical
reader, because you don't want your novel to read like a textbook. Yes, we
might have invested countless hours of research into this topic, but we have to
figure out ways to meld the facts into a driving storyline. This elaboration on
the facts can lead to some lower reviews, but we have to be prepared to stand
behind the integrity of our work. Also, I've found that when presenting
paganism in a negative light, you can expect to have some harassment by way of
reviews. But let's be honest—every author writes from a worldview. For example,
The Mists of Avalon is decidedly
pro-pagan. My worldview is Christian, so I add this to the end of my Amazon
blurbs: This book is written from a
5. I always try to ask this one, so I will ask you too. Can
you think of anything interesting or unexpected you discovered when doing the
research for this series?
HG: Yes—many things! The one I stumbled onto at just the right
time was that sometimes Vikings dug escape tunnels under benches in their
longhouses. As you know, I integrated that fact into Forest Child, hopefully in a memorable way. We don't have access to
many facts about the Vikings, but the more that turn up, the more it looks like
the saga accounts were true, which warms my heart since I really tried to stick
to those accounts when writing God's
Daughter and Forest Child.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful questions! Nice to visit
HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling
author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet,
hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational
story-telling runs in her blood. Heather is a graduate of Bob Jones University,
and she and her husband are raising their children in the same home in which
Heather grew up. Heather is represented by Rebeca Seitz and Jonathan Clements
of SON Studios in FL.
Heather's Viking historical novel, God's Daughter, is an Amazon Norse
Bestseller. She is also the author of the bestselling A Murder in the
Mountains mystery series and the Hemlock Creek Suspense series.
Heather also authored the Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for
Guess what! As a special extra Heather has
agreed to do a Giveaway of a copy of the Boxset of her Vikings of the
New World Saga. That's right! One lucky person can win a copy of God's Daughter and Forest Child together. Enter using the form below.