Recently, I interviewed author Heather Gilbert about her upcoming Viking novel, God's Daughter, which is set for release in ebook format on November 1, 2013.
TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I've been a novel writer for five and a half years and agented about five of those years. I've completed a paranormal (Speculative fiction) novel, a Viking historical, and a Contemporary Appalachian Mystery. So...quite the gamut. The Mystery is out on submission, but in the meantime, I've decided to self-publish my Viking historical.
GOD'S DAUGHTER BLURB
One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to the New World.
In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on her training as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a voyage to North America.
But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself--and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart.
Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands. God's Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir--daughter-in-law of Eirik the Red, and the first documented European woman to have a child in North America
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO WRITE A VIKING NOVEL?
It's the one time period I can't get enough of. From the time I was little, my Grandma told me how we were related to Eirik the Red and Leif Eiriksson...my maiden name would've been Thorvaldsen if my Great-Grandpa hadn't changed it when he came to America from Norway. I bought the huge book, The Sagas of Icelanders, and I was hooked. I was especially intrigued by the stories of the Vikings (such as Leif) who came to the new world, long before Columbus. Once I read about Gudrid, a Christian Viking woman who was beautiful and wise, I knew I had my story.
I'VE HEARD YOUR NOVEL INCLUDES TOUGH TOPICS. CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THEM AND WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO INCLUDE THEM?
Yes. I feel strongly that traditional marriage is under attack today, and sometimes it seems the church is unwilling to address topics like lust, especially when the wife is the one struggling. As I imagined Gudrid's life, I realized here was this drop-dead gorgeous woman and she was stuck in a camp in the new world with all kinds of men. How do you deal with that? Also, in my novel, her husband is the leader, and he has to travel. Gudrid already has abandonment issues because her mother was killed when she was a child. What kind of depression would that throw her into...and who might come alongside to fill the gap her husband left? Those are the kinds of questions I had to ask myself.
I felt I should deal with topics the Bible deals with, and we all know that it deals with lust (Bathsheba, Tamar, etc.). I wanted to handle it in a similar way and speak to wives who might be silently struggling with thoughts they can't control.
WHAT IS THE THEME OF THE NOVEL?
One of the primary themes showing readers that Vikings were human and struggled with the same issues we do. They had families to protect and dreams to follow. They used tweezers and other personal hygiene items and weren't stupid about healing techniques. I'm so tired of people in history being portrayed as half-stupid Neanderthals. Humans have always been smart, from the beginning of time, and therefore would try to take care of themselves and those they love.
Along those lines, I wanted to bring to light the documented fact that Christianity was good for the Vikings. It was their pagan practices that were inhumane. I'm also tired of reading historicals in which paganism is elevated and revered, such as The Mists of Avalon. I consider my book a sort of reverse-Mists.
WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM THE STORY?
Again, that Vikings were human. That marriage is worth fighting for, even when you don't entirely understand your spouse, or when the grass might seem greener on the other side. That even before Christians had the Bible in hand, they knew right from wrong.
WHAT WAS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU LEARNED WHILE CONDUCTING RESEARCH FOR THIS NOVEL?
Hard question! I've been encouraged by continuing archeological discoveries reinforcing that the sagas could have been true...even down to some (Canadian) Native Americans at that time having pale skin and red hair. I thought it was amazing that Gudrid took a very strong stand for Christianity, and that the sagas recorded it. I loved researching the possibility of Vikings using mushrooms to go berserk. But the most spectacular fact, the one that negated history I'd learned as a child, is that the first documented European baby born in North America was not Virginia Dare in the colonies, but Snorri, Gudrid's baby boy.
YOU CALL YOURSELF A HYBRID AUTHOR. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THAT MEANS?
Gladly. When I use that term, I mean an author who is using multiple methods to get his/her stories into readers' hands. For example, I am self-publishing this Viking historical, and yet I have an agent and my Mystery is out with traditional publishers. Hopefully, at some point, I will be both traditionally and self-published.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU ARE NOT WRITING?
Ha! Good question. Lately I've wondered if I have any other hobbies. I homeschool, so that keeps me busy during the school year. But between mommying, writing/editing, blogging, marketing, and teaching my kiddos, I have few hobbies. For fun, I do enjoy puttering in my flowerbeds and hanging out in the great outdoors with my dog (she's the one I imagined when writing the wolf scenes in my novel...I'll include a picture at the end of the both of us).
HOW MAY READERS CONTACT YOU?
(lots of pics from my book inspirations!)
Heather enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling her three children. Heather is the ACFW West Virginia Area Coordinator.