Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with K.S. Barton, Author of Raven Marked (Norse Family Saga)

9 April 2022

Special Guest Interview with K.S. Barton, Author of Raven Marked (Norse Family Saga)


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

A forgotten identity. A found family. Scars from the past. A young man comes of age in the turbulent, violent world of the Viking era. To survive, he must trust the ravens.

I'm pleased to welcome author K.S. Barton to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book, Raven Marked, is the fourth book in my Norse Family Saga series. Raven Marked is a side story about the life of a character who appeared in the second book in the trilogy, Sword and Story. This young man, Helgi the Marked, strode into the lives of my main characters and from the moment he appeared in the story, I was captivated by him. It was one of those happy, magical moments in writing! 

This book is about a young man’s coming of age in the violent, turbulent time of the Viking age. To survive, he must trust the ravens he sees as a child escaping a desperate situation. Despite losing his identity as a child, he finds a family in a trading crew and travels with them until, as a young man, he arrives at the gates of Constantinople. 

What is your preferred writing routine?  

My writing routine is a constant iteration. It changes with the seasons and with my work schedule. Right now, I get up between 5:30-6am to write fiction and do that until 7:30. I find I can tap into my creativity really well first thing in the morning—it’s like I’m still in that dream space from sleep. I belong to an online sprint group that meets later in the morning and during that time, I’ll either write more fiction or work on other things, like a blog post, my newsletter, or other non-fiction. After that, I’ll check social media and then read for a while before lunch. Most of my intensive creative work is done in the morning—by mid-afternoon, I’m pretty much spent. 

What advice do you have for new writers?  

Find a community of other writers. Writing is a lonely pursuit. It’s hard work and our family and friends may be supportive but only other writers can understand what it’s really like. Sometimes we need other writers to share our joys and our disappointments. Other writers will understand the euphoric rush of a good review or a kind email from a reader, and they will be able to commiserate when you’re having one of those days when it seems like you can’t string together a coherent sentence. Whether it’s in person or online, a community of writers is a blessing. Just make sure to find one that fits with who you are. 

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

That is the hardest part of indie publishing! For me, the best luck I’ve had is with doing email promotions with services like Ereader News Today, Bargain Booksy, or The Fussy Librarian. These services get books in front of readers, and since the subscribers select what kinds of books they read, they only see what they are interested in. Another way is with newsletter swaps using Bookfunnel. Again, these are aimed at people who read certain genres, so that helps narrow it down to finding readers of your specific genre. I also try to create an engaging email newsletter.   

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research?  

When doing my early research on the Viking age, I read one of the most famous sagas, the saga of Egil Skallagrimsson. Egil was a skaldic poet, berserker, and Icelandic farmer who lived during the same time as the famous king Eirik Bloodaxe. Egil is an early example of an anti-hero—he was horrible and fascinating at the same time. When Egil was three years old, his father attended a party without him; Egil was so put out that he rode to the neighboring farmhouse on his own, strutted into the house of the other man and recited a skaldic poet. At three years old! At just seven, he killed his first man. 

What surprised me about Egil, and what inspired me for my own writing, was that he was a devoted father. Not only that, but Egil grieved the deaths of his sons so much that he locked himself in his bedcloset for three days with the hope that he would die too. His “beloved” daughter told him to create a poem for his grief. Egil did so and left his bed. The poem, Sonatorrek, which translates as “The Loss of Sons”, is a beautiful, tender, painful look into Egil’s grief at losing his sons. After reading it, I was intrigued by the idea that a man known for brutality could love his children so much that he’d wish for death instead of living without them. He is also angry with Odin, and that lashing out at the gods rang true for a man living in grief. I used Egil’s love of his children as an inspiration for one of my own characters. 

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?  

The hardest scene I ever wrote is something I ended up cutting from my second novel. In it, I had to kill a character I loved in a very sad way, so it was emotional for me. I’d grown quite attached to the character! I hated to kill them, but it was important for the story and for my main character to move on. I was emotionally wrecked for a while after writing it. The death still occurs but now it is off the page.   

What are you planning to write next?  

I’m in the revising stage of the second book in the Helgi the Marked duology. I plan to release this book, still untitled, in late 2022. I’ve decided to veer away from historical fiction for a little while to try my hand at historical fantasy. I’m currently working on a set of stories that are connected to my Norse Family Saga series as family legends; these are stories my character, Bjorn, tells to his children about his ancestors, who he believes are descended from a human and an elf-woman. What I’m writing now is told from the perspective of the female elf. We don’t know much about the elves of Norse mythology (or the alfar as they were called), so I’m having fun creating a world for them. I’m not sure yet if these will be full novels or novellas. Either way, they should come out in 2023.

K.S. Barton

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About the Author 

K.S. Barton writes historical fiction and fantasy stories of love and adventure set in the Viking age. The author of several novels and short stories, she explores themes of family, honor, and strength all within the backdrop of Norse society. When doing research on Norse mythology for a teaching project, she discovered the Norse sagas and immediately knew that she wanted to write fiction about Vikings. She loves writing about family dynamics, love, loss, bravery, grief, community, complex moral dilemmas, and how the stories we tell can guide us through life and give us strength. Of course, no story of Vikings would be complete without male warriors and fighting, so there is plenty of that in her books, too!  Find out more ar her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @ks_barton

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