20 April 2008

Release Party: US Release of Taken by the Viking

Michelle Styles is back with us today to celebrate the North American release of Taken by the Viking. Regular readers of this blog will recall that she dropped by last October when Taken by the Viking was released in the UK. Taken by the Viking is May 08 release for harlequin Historical which means that it is probably in the shops this week. You can read an excerpt here.

A Viking Raid

They claimed they came in peace, but soon Lindisfarne was aflame. Annis of Birdoswald fled in fear, but she could not escape the Norse warriors.

An Honorable Captor

One man protected her--Haakon Haroldson. The dark, arrogant Viking swept Annis back to his homeland, taking her away from all she held dear.

A New Life--As His Mistress!

Now Annis must choose between the lowly work that befits a captive, or a life of sinful pleasure in the Viking's arms!
Why the different release date?

That is decision for the editors and is entirely dependant on the needs of the line. One of the big problems at the moment is that they have such a strong stable of authors writing unusual historical that publishing slots are tight. I am a UK author and that means my home market is the UK. Other authors such as Michelle Willingham or Blythe Gifford are US authors, and their work is released first in the North American market. Publishing slots are much available for Georgian/Regency/Victorian. The big reason for this is sales. People keep saying that they want choice, but the books sold reflect the desire for the Regency time period, particularly in the UK. Harlequin Historical are committed to providing the variety of time periods as much as possible but are seeing the growth in sales more in the Regency.

What has been its reception so far?

I have been very pleased with the reviews. For example, The Romantic Times gave Taken a four-star rating and said it was an awesome story with jump off the page characters. And its reception seems to have been good in the UK. The original plan was going to be to wait and release the Vikings one after another in North America, but they decided to change that after seeing the UK sales.

Your cover is lovely. Was it created specifically for the book?

Yes, Taken by the Viking's cover was created specifically for the book, as was the inside cover. My editor told me that they had used one of the top Presents artists as they wanted a certain feel about it. Joanne Carr recently said on Romance Vagabonds that they mainly work with New York artists, so the vast majority of NA retail covers are fresh artwork. But Harlequin does have a large stock of images and these can be used around the world. Basically, the marketing department is trying to create a certain feel with a book, and if they can do it with existing stock, they will. For example, the UK cover for Sold & Seduced was the inside cover of Lyn Randall's Warrior or Wife, but it was such a lovely picture that it deserved to be on a front cover.

Do you find writing Vikings more difficult than Romans?

There are different challenges. The Romans were far more literate than Vikings and left a larger body of work, so we actually have far more concrete information. The Vikings really left a few brief runes. We know about them comes from mentions by often hostile monks, and the Icelandic sagas. The most famous of the sagas--the Prose and Poetic eddas were written after the Viking age has ended and it is unclear how far the traditions actually go back. Add to this the various Victorian myths--for example horns on helmets--and it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Luckily, the archaeological record does provide a few clues as well.

The other thing about Vikings is that they were uber alpha. They lived in a warrior society and so this has to be reflected in the story. One comment I keep getting from my editors is to make my heroes more alpha and that the reader knows it was a violent time.

Did anything surprise you in the research?

I think the thing that surprised me most was how much Tolkien and Richard Wagner drew on the sagas when they were creating their masterpieces. It is very strange to be reading a list of dwarfs and come across the names of Gandalf, Thorin, Bombur, Dain, Gloin etc.

Are there any more Vikings in your future?

Viking Warrior Unwilling Wife by Michelle StylesMy next book out in the UK (June 08). Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife is the second book about the jaarls of Lindisfarne. And I am nearly finished with the first draft of the third book. I am not sure how many more after that as it depends on what else is happening. I know that I want to write several more early Victorians and I have an idea for a late Georgian. But I do like writing about the time period and looking at the possibilities behind the myth.

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Thank you to Michelle for being here. Michelle is offering a copy of Taken by the Viking (or something from her back list) to one lucky poster. Just leave a comment or a question. Be sure to check back next week and see if you have won!

To help get the ball rolling here is a question: what do you think about uber alpha heroes/warrior heroes? Do you like them or do you prefer something more urbane?

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