08 June 2008

Release Party: Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife

This week, we're talking with contributor Michelle Styles about her newest Harlequin Historical release, VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE.

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Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife by Michelle Styles
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!

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Sometimes it feels like another month, another celebration for Michelle. What's going on?

It all has to do with publication schedules and the fact that Harlequin Mills & Boon is a great global empire of publishing. My books first appear in the UK and then they go out to different markets. Sometimes, the process can take years. Scheduling is a black art.

VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE is my first new book of 2008 and proudly sports the centenary logo. The second half of 2008 is a bit crowded, though. I have the sequel to A CHRISTMAS WEDDING WAGER, called AN IMPULSIVE DEBUTANTE, coming out in September, and the start of new Regency duo, A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY, coming out in November. After that, I have no idea what the schedule looks like, and I don't know about US publication dates. You can, however, buy the entire M&B range through Amazon.Ca. The powers that be at Harlequin always welcome feedback and are responsive to reader's requests.

How much advanced warning do you get?

It depends. I always know when a book is coming out in the UK, and my editors tell me a book will appear in the US. But for other markets, most of the time, they do not know. I tend to spend the first of every month trawling around the various Harlequin sites to see. And sometimes, I do not know that a book has been out until the copies arrive in the post. It is one of the great things about being published by Harlequin. 110 different markets and 26 different languages leaves lots of scope.

Okay, so what is VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE about?

This is Vikar's story. Vikar was one of the Viken jaarls in TAKEN BY THE VIKING. Before the events in that book, he was married to Sela, the heroine of VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE and they divorced. Sela left him and has never returned to the court at Kaupang. At the end of TAKEN BY THE VIKING, Sela's father was banished for his part in nearly toppling the king and the events in the book take place approximately a year after that. But it is a linked book rather than strictly a sequel. In other words, you do not have to have read the first to read the second. One of my perennial problems is that I always seem to come in on a series about a book or two in, and then it doesn't stand alone. I have worked very hard to make sure that VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE stands alone.

Were there any challenges?

With the early Viking era, there are always challenges. There are not a lot of primary sources and sometimes, they are contradictory. I spent a lot of time reading the Icelandic sagas. The early sagas do reflect this era, but one always has to be careful on how much is truth and how much is entertainment. And this whole question of truth versus fantasy was something I addressed in the book. Sela has decided that all the stories are fantasy, but learns that maybe there was a lot more truth in her father's saga than she thought.

Anything surprise you?

When I read the Icelandic sagas, I was surprised how much the sagas inspired Tolkien, Wagner and others.

Is there anything you're particularly proud of?

I got to keep the trolls and even had my editors believing in trolls for a moment. Harlequin Historical is basically no paranormal, but because I was able to offer a good explanation of why, I was able to keep the trolls. I was pleased. I also enjoyed exploring the whole Viking family structure. It was good to do a quest book.

Are there any more Vikens in your future?

I have just turned in my third Viken, Ivar's story. I know several readers have asked for Thrand (Haakon's step-brother) to have a story, and that may happen. I have an idea for it... But I also really enjoy writing my Regency/Victorian North East of England stories, so it sort of depends on what my editors want.

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Thank you, Michelle, for giving us more insight into your new release. There is a copy of VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE for one lucky poster. Or, if the winner would prefer one of Michelle's other books, she is willing to send out one of her backlist. The winner will be announced next Sunday, so be sure to leave a comment or question. To get people talking, what do people think about series? Like them or loathe them, and why?

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