3 December 2017

Special Guest Interview with Author Marianne Whiting

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Enemies from Sigrid's past resurface and pose dangers that can't always be met sword-in-hand. Magic, treachery and intrigue combine to threaten the lives of Sigrid's children and she is forced into a final, desperate struggle.

Today I would like to welcome historical fiction author Marianne Whiting:

Tell us about your latest book 

Honour Is All, part 3 of the Shieldmaiden trilogy, was published by Accent Press last September. It concludes the tale of how Sigrid Kveldulfsdaughter, a Viking woman, challenges fate and builds a life as respected warrior and farmer among the Norse settlers in Cumbria in the mid-tenth century.

Orphaned and destitute in part one, Shieldmaiden, Sigrid makes her way to Norway and persuades King Hakon to reverse the verdict of treachery against her father so that she can inherit the family farm. In part two, To Save a Kingdom, she finds that taking possession of her inheritance is not straightforward. She proves her worth and gains the respect of her fellow Norse in Cumbria when she joins their struggle for independence against the Saxons (English).

Sigrid achieves her goal and in part three, Honour Is All, she is a wealthy and influential warrior and farmer. But when the Saxons launch their most determined attack on the North of England, Sigrid is forced to choose between her loyalty to her fellow Cumbrians and family-duty towards her uncle Eirik Bloodaxe.

There’s plenty of action, blood and gore, in all three books but I also try to give a more nuanced picture of daily life among Viking settlers and, in particular, of the challenges for a woman who is a warrior but also a wife, lover, mother and farmer responsible for the lives of her family and household. In Scandinavia, the idea of women warriors is generally accepted and there are also many examples of powerful women in our history.

What is your preferred writing routine?

Routine and I don’t really mix. I write whenever and wherever I get the chance and I feel like it. I love writing in our little Swedish cabin with a view of the Baltic. I also love sitting in our English conservatory with a view of our small, chaotic garden.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Just write! But write for the love of it, not for the money. I don’t suppose that chimes with the description ‘aspiring’ but still.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

It’s probably not a very effective way but I really enjoy giving talks about historical topics such as: ‘Britons, Saxons, Vikings – Who Are the English?’ or ‘Shieldmaidens and Other Warrior Women.’ I always bring some books to sell and I also attend book-fairs and other events. As my local reputation grows I’m hoping for a rings-on-the-water effect. But I do admit I should be much more active on social media as well.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research 

Like so many people I was under the impression that the Vikings started the trading, raiding and exploration. I was surprised to find how wide travelled and well connected Scandinavian people were long before the Vikings. Iron Age warriors fought as mercenaries for the Romans and there was a profitable trade between Scandinavia and the Roman Empire. Before then, Bronze Age people were part of a culture that covered much of Europe.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing? 

Sometimes characters have to be killed in battle or die of other causes. I get very attached to my characters and I find this hard. The writing is easy, I’m involved, I’m there but I often end up in tears and I can feel very low for several days. Yes, I know, I must get out more!

What are you planning to write next? 

I’m still feeling empty after finishing a trilogy that I have lived with for several years so I haven’t got a specific project at the moment. I feel I ought to write about something other than Vikings so I’m working on a story I had to abandon when Sigrid demanded precedence. It is a YA novel about a young girl in 16th Century Spain who escapes an arranged marriage and ends up among the Conquistadors in Peru. She’s not a warrior but a survivor. We’ll see what happens.

Marianne Whiting
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About the Author

Marianne Whiting was born and raised in Sweden and arrived in England in 1973 intending to spend a year doing a Masters degree at Birmingham University. She still lives there - and is still married to the no longer so young man who made her miss the boat home. Marianne has had poems and short stories published in magazines and anthologies but the Shieldmaiden Trilogy are her first novels. Find our more at Marianne's website 

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