07 December 2008

Book Party: Michelle Styles

Unusual Historicala takes great pleasure in welcoming back Michelle Styles to discuss her latest North American release, VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE, her second book set in the early Viking period.

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With the war drums echoing in her ears, and the sharp northern light glinting off the sharpened swords, Sela stood with trepidation on the shoreline. The dragon ships full of warriors had come, ready for battle and glory.

But it wasn't the threat of conquest that shook Sela to the core. It was the way her heart responded to the proud face and chiseled body of Vikar Hrutson, jaarl, leader of the invading force--and Sela's ex-husband!
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Anything you are excited about, Michelle?

One of the great things Harlequin has done for the release of Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife is to create a book widget. Mostly it is just the passion lines which get widgets, so it was a real honour to be chosen. A widget means you can read the entire first chapter as well as my author's note at the back. The note deals with divorce in Viking times, as well as giving a list of some of the books I found useful when I was doing my research.

Was divorce common in Viking times?

Because of the lack of written information, it is difficult to accurately determine how wide spread divorce was. If you read the sagas, you will see women could divorce for basically any reason and divorce is often used for dramatic purposes. One of the big problems for women was their children belonged to their husband. This is something Sela, the heroine of Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife, strongly objects to, and she tries to circumvent the system. She believes that she has succeeded until her former husband sails up the fjord...

So you were looking at divorce in Viking times, what else intrigued you when you were writing?

One of the things that really interests me is how much truth there is in a saga and how things get changed and altered through time. For example, it was through looking at Homer's Iliad that Heinrich Schliemann discovered the city that is now thought to be Troy. Deciding what is the truth about the legends holds the key to Sela and Vikar's survival.

Are there any more Vikings in your future?

The third book, which is Ivar's story, is currently sitting on my editor's desk. It has been revised twice, but I am hopeful that I finally have cracked it. I want the story to be super strong and a worthy successor to the other two. After that, it depends really on the sales and if a story really strikes me.

Are some books harder to write than others?

Short answer--yes! But ultimately, it is all about getting the story right for the reader. The goal is always to give as powerful a read as possible. This is where the eye of an experienced editor really helps as they can see the holes or possible problems. Sometimes, it is not about getting it right the first time, but getting it right finally. Allowing words to harden like cement can be a problem for some writers, particularly aspiring authors.

Was Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife hard to write?

It was fun to write! When the revisions came (there are always revisions), I could see how they would make the story stronger. For example, I had just finished writing A CHRISTMAS WEDDING WAGER and my editors pointed out that perhaps I had forgotten that this was not a sweet Christmas story set in Victorian times, but a passionate Viking.

I duly made changes, and I was thrilled when Romantic Times said, "A family in conflict, an ambitious hero bent on vengeance and a bold woman hiding a secret quest for salvation combine for a heady, tension-filled, passionate sequel to TAKEN BY THE VIKING."

It is just great when revisions work!

Are Vikings popular?

They seem to be. Certainly, I have had a lot of reader feedback saying how much they enjoyed Taken by the Viking and now Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife. Sometimes a myth goes around that a time period is dead or whatever, but really the Viking period has always been a popular one for Harlequin Historical. Ultimately, it is all about crafting a story that people enjoy and hopefully readers will enjoy this one.

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Thank you, Michelle, for dropping by. Leave a comment and have a chance to win a copy of Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife (or any of Michelle's back list). To help you out: Do you think there is any truth to legends and myths? A winner will be chosen at random next Sunday. Good luck!

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