Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Erin Riley, about her fiction book entitled, Odin’s Shadow. Enjoy!
Where did the idea for Odin’s Shadow come from?
I’ve always enjoyed reading about the Viking age, and I own many books on the subject. My educational background is in psychology and mental health counseling. While reading about Viking berserkers, I realized these men were actually suffering from a mental illness. The character of Alrik Ragnarson was born that day.
How did the title of this book come about?
The male main character, a volatile Viking warlord, is haunted by his family legacy of mental instability and eventual descent into madness. Odin grants great power to those who worship him, but this power comes at a price. This shadow of Odin follows him everywhere.
What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?
The genre of this book is technically romance. But I’ve been told by readers that Odin’s Shadow crosses genres, encompassing not only historical fiction and romance, but also suspense, thriller, and literary fiction.
What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?
I love depth and symbolism, but I don’t want to insult my readers’ intelligence by putting it all out there at the beginning. I think a lot of readers enjoy the process of discovering the heart of a character the way I do. The ultimate message in my novel, and in the Sons of Odin series, is one of redemption, forgiveness, and being willing to risk everything for love.
Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.
I wrote the first draft of Odin’s Shadow during an 8 week recovery from surgery in 2010. I spent the next few years editing and tweaking the story, until I was finally ready to let anyone else see it! I have a good number of research books on the Viking age in my library, so I was able to use those for the majority of what I needed, with small amounts of internet research thrown in. I’m a stickler for historical accuracy in the books I read, and I wanted nothing less for the books I wrote.
Tell me about the main storyline within this book.
The main character is Selia, a young Irish woman who has been sheltered from the evils of the world but nevertheless has a fascination with stories of the Vikings. She sneaks to the harbor to view the Viking longships, and there meets Alrik Ragnarson, a Viking warlord. Alrik is charismatic, charming when he wants to be, and Selia is swept away with desire for the handsome warrior. Looking to escape an arranged marriage to a man she doesn’t love, Selia marries Alrik and sails with him to Norway to start a new life. She realizes very quickly that her new husband is hiding a very dark past, and has to decide if her burgeoning love for Alrik is worth risking her life for. Alrik’s brother, Ulfrik, befriends Selia and tries to keep her safe from his brother’s dangerous outbursts.
Who is the protagonist of this story?
The protagonist is Selia: a beautiful dark-haired girl with eyes like a silver sea and a voice the angles would envy. She is intelligent, curious, and stubborn in an age when women were viewed as property, and longs for an escape from her sheltered existence. She hides a secret her family fears will put her in great danger if discovered.
What is the major conflict in this story?
The major conflicting force is the shadow of Odin: the madness that dwells inside Alrik, always pacing for release. The shadow has driven him to do horrible things, but there is one particular incident he is desperate to keep hidden from Selia.
Where and when is this story taking place?
The story takes place in 9th century Ireland and Norway.
Who is your favorite character in this book?
I really love my main character Selia. I think there is a trend in many books to make the heroine too perfect, too politically correct for lack of a better word. Selia is far from perfect. She makes some very impulsive decisions that have far-reaching consequences into the subsequent books in the series. The themes of books 2 and 3 deal with the fallout from some of these early questionable decisions. I feel the character of Selia will resonate with anyone who also thought they knew everything there was to know at the age of eighteen!
Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?
I was a counselor in a hospital psych ward for many years, working with both children and adults, and I also have personal experience with a loved one who has a mental illness. The tragedy of watching a mental illness take the mind of someone you love is hard to describe for someone who hasn’t lived it. Alrik Ragnarson is very real for me: a complicated, multifaceted man, living in an age before medication existed, who saw his own father succumb to madness and knows the same shadow dwells in him.
Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.
There are three main characters, Selia and Alrik, and Alrik’s brother Ulfrik. I would cast Ariana Grande for Selia, Alexander Skarsgard for Alrik, and Charlie Hunnam for Ulfrik.
Here’s my tongue-in-cheek score for the movie:
- “Just a Girl” by No Doubt
- “Upside Down” by Diana Ross
- “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry
- “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman
- “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis
- “Time Bomb” by Godsmack
- “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails
- “Bodies” by Drowning Pool
- “Whiskey Hangover” by Godsmack
- “Snuff” by Slipknot
- “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield
- “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon
- “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” by Andy Gibb
- “Let Her Go” by Passenger
- “Broken” by Seether
Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?
The entire Sons of Odin series will be released before the end of 2015: A Flame Put Out in August, and Oath Breaker in December.
Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To obtain your copy of Odin’s Shadow, please visit the link provided.
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