Heather's guest post is the sixth in a six week author spotlight series I'm doing here. Week one I hosted author Jody Hedlund, week two I hosted author Laura Frantz, week three I hosted author Wendy Paine Miller, week four I hosted author Melissa Tagg, and week five I hosted author Joanne Bischof. This is the final week in this series. Be sure to look at the bottom of this post and I'll tell you how you can win a fun gift basket from these six authors!
For now, here's a word from Heather:
A Peek into Historical Research
I'm so thrilled to be guest-blogging at Gabrielle's blog today! I "met" Gabrielle soon after I switched blogspots, around two and a half years ago. I recognized that she knew a little something about Vikings... given that she lives in Minnesota. (That may or may not be a football joke, since I know precious little about football!)
Since Gabrielle is also a historical writer, I wanted to chat about research today. What inspires an author to write a historical? Do they fall in love with the time period first? Or perhaps the characters? I think it depends. For me, it was both, but primarily a character that inspired my Viking novel, God's Daughter.
Being of Viking heritage, quite a few years ago, I bought myself a copy of the massive tome, The Sagas of Icelanders. Since I'm supposedly related to Eirik the Red's son Thorvald, naturally I busied myself with reading everything I could about the dude. Turns out, he died of a native (Skraeling) arrow in the new world--North America.
And yet, another member of Eirik the Red's family began to fascinate me. Gudrid...a woman who was married three times, while still young...beautiful, wise, and from all accounts, a Christian. She also traveled to the New World and even had a baby here! I couldn't get enough of her story. And then the sagas introduced me to Freydis, Gudrid's sister-in-law, who was about as wild and unpredictable as Gudrid was kind and beautiful. Freydis will be the main character in my second novel, Forest Child.
I started a story, based on a slave character I invented, who would wind up with Eirik's family. But my husband asked why I didn't just write about Gudrid herself, one of the better-known Viking women (for those interested in Viking lore). I took a deep breath. Then I started writing.
The story flowed. And yet, I had to check my saga accounts continually. With historical fiction based on a real person, it's tricky getting your historical storyline and your fictional storyline to mesh. And since the sagas overlapped and had timeline discrepancies, I had a major task ahead of me.
I also referred to the Old Norse dictionary throughout the writing process. Talk about slowing a writer down...checking your adjectives, nouns, and verbs against a limited dictionary equals lots of extra time. But in the end, I was able to incorporate a few words I figured the Vikings had words for, even if they weren't in my dictionary, as long as they didn't shout anachronism.
I sort of bent the historical fiction rules (especially for Medieval fiction), by writing in first person present tense. I loved Tracy Chevalier's Girl with the Pearl Earring (first person past), and I wanted to capture that immediacy of being in my main character's head...walking through these situations with her.
I've vlogged here about how difficult it was to get my beloved time period published within the CBA, even though it was out over a year on submission. In the end, God seemed to open the door for me to self-publish my novel. Just like that, I became a hybrid author--represented by my agent for my Contemporary Appalachian Mystery novel, and yet self-publishing my Viking novel in the meantime.
November first of this year, God's Daughter, the fruit of years of hard work, will be available on Amazon. It's been a long journey and it hasn't turned out the way I planned, but I'm more excited than I ever dreamed I could be. After years of buried hopes of getting traditionally published, I can finally anticipate getting my novel--which deals with heavy, yet important themes like depression, paganism vs Christianity, and emotional infidelity in marriage--into my readers' hands.
Historical research can be a bear, but I think we usually do it because we love something or someone in the time period we're writing about. That passion will spill over into your novel. Stick with it...more than ever before, there are many avenues for authors to get their books out there!
Gabrielle here. Isn't this a fascinating look at historical research and Viking knowledge? Heather, thank you so much for sharing this behind-the-scenes look at your novel! I am a bit familiar with Viking history--and not of the football kind! :)
Heather has graciously agreed to give away a copy of her debut novel, God's Daughter, to one reader who comments on this post between now and Tuesday, November 5th at 11:59 p.m. (CST). Please include your email address.
A QUESTION FOR MY BLOG READERS: Do you know anything about Viking history? Do you have any questions for Heather?
Last weeks winner of My Hope is Found by author Joanne Bischof is:
Congratulations, Linda. I'll be contacting you soon!
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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.
"Vivid, powerful...triumphant. This story took me by the heart." ~ Joanne Bischof, award-winning author of the Cadence of Grace series
"God’s Daughter offers a brave, fresh look at a lost way of life and the Vikings who left an indelible mark in history. Author Heather Gilbert weaves a riveting novel with unforgettable characters and circumstances, the first installment in a series sure to resonate with historical fans. The stunning cover is only the beginning!" ~ Laura Frantz, Christy finalist and author of Love’s Reckoning
~ ~ ~ ~Author Bio: 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.
You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert--Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Look for her Viking novel, God's Daughter, coming to Amazon November 1, 2013!
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Six Authors, One Grand Prize!Over the course of the last six weeks I hosted six authors on my blog. Each author agreed to offer a free copy of their newest release, as well as an item for a grand prize drawing at the end of the six weeks! To be entered to win a free copy of each book, all you had to do was visit my blog weekly (beginning September 25th) and comment on each author's post. A random winner was chosen each week--one will be chosen this week. To be entered to win the grand prize, visit my Rafflecopter below and follow the instructions.
I'll announce the winner of the Grand Prize next Wednesday, November 6th!