28 Nov 2016

Heather Day Gilbert Viking Fiction Author- Interview and Giveaway!

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 advice?

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 Christian worldview.

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 today!


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 the Self-Publisher.
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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I gained a lot from this interview! Thank you for the exciting facts concerning your Viking research. I strongly recommend these books for any reader who loves romance and history.

  2. Thanks for a chance at this give away! I enjoyed reading your interview and find the time period you write about to be quite fascinating!

  3. Wow -- this looks fascinating! I love when authors bring history to life.

  4. Vikings of the New World Saga has become my favorite historical set as it brings alive the time, people and places and shows the spread of Christianity and how it changed people from barbarians to Christlike followers. The descriptions of how they lived - houses, food, clothing,social interactions - are so detailed you feel as if you have traveled back in time and dwelt among them. Very well written and I look forward to future works of Heather Day Gilbert

    1. Very good points Kenike. I will say that if you enjoyed this series for that reason, you might also enjoy The Northumbrian Thrones trilogy by Edoardo Albert.
      It is set about 400 years before Heather Gilbert's Books in the early seventh century, and relates the spread of Christianity in England amongst the Anglo-Saxons, who were from a similar region to the Vikings.

    2. I truly appreciate hearing that, Kenike! If you aren't signed up yet for my newsletter, I hope you can sign up so you get updates on upcoming releases. I don't have anything planned that is so heavily based on the sagas, but I do have a Viking romance releasing in March 2017 with The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection by Barbour.


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