Welcome to the third instalment of my Spoilers series! I know, third - I haven't been banned yet!
If you are not familiar with this series, I am basically making the assumption that you have read these books, and you are as keen as I am to grill the authors.
Therefore, me and my lovely little author-victims are going to have an interview that is not restricted by spoiler information.
My next guest is the author of the Sons of Odin trilogy, Erin S. Riley.
OK, this is your first warning: if you have not read Odin's Shadow you have to leave this page now.
I recommend buy Odin's Shadow, or going and reading my relatively spoiler-free review.
The main point is, you have to scoot, this interview is only for those with the required reading.
Please meet the author of our Viking drama:
Erin S. Riley
Erin S. Riley has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in clinical counseling. She is also a board certified lactation consultant and has had extensive training in maternal-child health. Since Erin was a child, she has been fascinated with human nature and what motivates behavior. Erin's books feature complicated, imperfect characters who love deeply, make reckless decisions, and try again until they get it right.
A lifelong lover of books, Erin taught herself to read at the age of four and hasn’t been without a book since. She is an equal-opportunity reader of fiction and non-fiction, and her shelves are filled with books on psychology, archeology, anthropology, and general history. The social history of women and their place in society across the ages is a favorite reading topic of Erin’s. Erin is drawn to any creative pursuit, from making hand-stitched quilts to producing mini-movies for family and friends from home videos. But writing has always been her passion. When Erin isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with her two wonderful children, reading anything she can get her hands on, watching football, and renovating her house with her husband of 18 years.
So this is your final final warning to bugger off and not be offended by the ensuing spoilers.
Right, I should have left an audience of Erin S. Riley fans who are well-versed in the story of Selia and the Viking brothers Alrik and Ulfrick.
Due to Selia's head injury, he suspects Selia and Ainnileas were victims of a Viking attack, but he doesn't know that Viking was Alrik. He assumes the dead woman in the woods was the twins' mother. Niall's overprotectiveness springs more from the trauma of losing his wife in childbirth and his need to save Selia from that fate. He also fears anyone finding out about her spells because they might think she's a witch.
2) Where did you get the idea of berserkers from?
The notion of berserkers goes far back in Norse history. Egil's Saga, an ancient Icelandic saga that begins in Norway in the 9th century (but was most likely written in the 13th century) discusses berserkers and their impact on families and on Norse society. Some historians argue that Grendel from Beowulf was a berserker. The idea of werewolves and shape shifters also sprang from the berserker tradition. My background is in psychology, so my take on berserkers is that they were most likely suffering from a severe mental illness. Alrik's family speaks of the "curse of Ragnarr" as though it was something he brought upon himself through his pact with Odin, but we know from the study of genetics that certain forms of mental illness are highly hereditary.
3) When you started, did you know which brother Selia would end up with in Odin's Shadow?
Yes. The entire series was written in my head before I put one word on paper. Although my characters don't always listen to me! Alrik was very persistent in his desire to end up with Selia. Stubborn till the end. But I wrote it the way I did because I wanted readers to fall in love with Alrik the same way Selia did, loving the man while hating his behavior. I didn't want Alrik to be a traditional villain. And so, as it so often happens in life, Selia is a teenage girl who falls head over heels for a bad boy, and refuses to listen to anyone who has her best interests in mind.
4) I think Ingrid was one of my favourite characters - where did the inspiration for her come from?
I love Ingrid too. Response from readers has been all or nothing--they either love her or they hate her. Ingrid says and does what she wants in an age when a woman's role was to do as she was told by the men in her life. She flips her father (and everyone else) the figurative middle finger time and time again, following her own way. I find Ingrid very refreshing. There was really no inspiration for her--Ingrid sprang to life the way my characters tend to do, fully formed. For several years I worked at a halfway house for women with mental illness, so I suppose Ingrid could be a product of my subconscious from all the time I spent there!
5) I love the very real feel of the setting: how much was research, and how much imagination?
I do a lot of research to get the feel of a place. I want it to feel very real for my readers, but at the same time my objective is not to give a history lesson. Then I let my characters take control, with the setting as a backdrop.
6) I loved the truth about Selia's mother; was it fun revealing Grainne's involvement?
Grainne is the flip side of Ingrid; she is what happens to a strong woman living in a man's world who is unable to take control of her life. Grainne can't afford to overtly obtain her revenge, so she settles for manipulation and poisoning. I'm glad she and Selia had the scene where they forgave each other, however. That resolution helped them both move on.
7) There is a dark theme throughout of death by childbirth, was that a conscious choice?
Yes, because the most likely cause of death for women of that era was childbirth. Each time a woman took to childbed, there was a very real chance she wouldn't survive it. Girls were married off very young and could be dead a year later from the birth of their first child. So it was easy to continue this theme throughout the series.
If you like the sound of her work, check out the rest of the trilogy: