To celebrate the foreign release of my Medallion Press novel, The Viking’s Witch, I’m sharing an “inside look” at the making of the book. In this blog, I’ll discuss how the book came about, the research involved, and the violence that takes place in the story. (Yes, even though it’s a romance, everything’s not all hearts and flowers.) In Part Two, I’ll talk about creating the characters, developing Odaria’s magic “witch” powers, and more.
The Viking’s Witch is a traditional historical romance with paranormal elements set in Scotland in 803 A.D. The main character, Odaria, is what they called a witch back then – nowadays we’d call her a psychic and a healer. Here’s the plot summary:
The Viking’s Witch
About to be burned at the stake by her fellow villagers, Odaria does what any betrayed witch facing certain death would do. She calls down a curse. Within seconds, rampaging Norsemen raid the village, capturing everyone except her.
But her reprieve is short-lived, and Odaria lands in the clutches of the Norse leader Rothgar. Can she remain true to herself and fight her growing attraction to this domineering man, or will she fall under his influence?
After Rothgar witnesses Odaria’s powers firsthand, he strikes a bargain with her. The raven-haired beauty will use her magical abilities to help him with his quest in exchange for safe passage off the isle. But can this cunning woman be trusted, or is she using him to exact vengeance on her village?
Together they must fight bloodthirsty villagers, battle a mutinous band of Norsemen, find a missing Norse ship, and learn to trust each other…before time is up.
Interviewers and readers have asked what my inspiration was when I was writing the book, and they are curious about how much research I had to do to create the unique characters and detailed setting.
Like many of my books, the idea for the story came to me out of the blue. One day, the entire opening sequences popped into my head and I knew I had to start writing. At the time, I had the basic plot (Viking warrior falls in love with Celtic witch), but I wasn’t sure about most of the details, like the character names, their backstories, and the subplot. All of that came later, along with the secondary characters Brennan and Nordskog. (But I’ll talk more about them in Part Two of this blog!)
Scotland is a beautiful place and I’ve always wanted to set a book there. (I still may write another historical set in the Highlands.) Having the story take place on the remote Orkney Islands added a sense of urgency and tension to the plot. In a sense, Rothgar and Odaria are “trapped” on the island and are forced to deal with a pack of angry villagers and other Norsemen. The action is condensed into a few days on a very small island, so there’s really nowhere for the characters to go. They’re forced to work together in order to get off the island – and survive.
Before I started writing a word, I had to do a lot research on where to set the story. I knew the book would take place in Scotland, where the Vikings traveled in their early years of exploration, but I didn’t want it to be a populated location. Once I decided on the Orkneys, I had to pick which island to set the story (there are 70 different islands, but today, only 20 are inhabited).
I also had to research what life was like at that time period for Odaria and Rothgar. (What kind of clothes they would wear? What food did they eat? How did Norsemen travel so far? What were their ships like?) Odaria and Rothgar come from different backgrounds and technically would have been speaking different languages, so I had to blend their two cultures together in a way that flowed with the book.
After I got a feel for what everyday life was like for each of them, I weaved the details into the story. For example, Rothgar’s Norse background intrigues Odaria, and she is curious about their clothes, customs, their food, how they travel, etc. Having Rothgar show her how he lived was a good way to introduce readers into the culture.
And of course, if you were living back in 803 with bands of Norsemen and crazy villagers, you can expect there was some measure of violence. Readers might think that there’s no place for violence in a romance, but I think that type of realism (when kept in check) enhances the story.
In 803, life was completely different from how we live now – especially on a remote island. People got hurt, sick, and died. The Viking’s Witch is about a violent man (Brennan) and a group of Norsemen with violent reputations, so including some violence in the story is necessary to move the plot along while also helping the reader get deeper into the minds and lives of the characters.
I didn’t cringe when I wrote the “gritty” scenes; I was happy to include them. I like history and it drives me crazy when people in 1500 or 1870 are perfectly clean and neat, have perfect teeth, and look like they stepped out of a beauty salon. In The Viking’s Witch I included enough details to bring the story alive, yet showed how some degree of violence was necessary for Rothgar’s and Odaria’s survival.
I hope you enjoyed Part One of this “Inside Look” at The Viking’s Witch. Next month I’ll delve more into the characters and discuss Odaria’s magic. The Viking’s Witch is available exclusively as an ebook from:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 95 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books.
Her newest book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction was released in February 2015. This fun and informative non-fiction guide is based on her 15 years of experience as a writer, and is available exclusively on Amazon.
Kelli published three romances in 2014: Dangerous Indenture (a spicy historical/mystery), Wilderness Bride (a tender historical/Western/adventure), and A Secret Match (a gay contemporary set in the world of professional wrestling). Her romances span many genres and heat levels and yet she’s also been known to scare readers with a horror story. In 2014, her horror fiction appeared in Moon Shadows, Wrapped in White, and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.
Kelli posts on her Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter http://www.Twitter.com/@KWilkinsauthor. She also writes a weekly blog: http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/. Visit her website, www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings, read excerpts, reviews, and more. Readers can sign up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb.
CATCH UP WITH KELLI
Here are a few links to find Kelli & her writings on the web:
Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb
Amber Quill Press Author page: http://www.amberquill.com/store/m/149-Kelli-A-Wilkins.aspx