Having recently sent off my latest manuscript for publication feelers, I’ve been doing some thinking for my next project. I’ve always been interested in history, even though I teach English. And one of the things I’ve been hearing lately is, “Write your obsession.” It makes sense, too, because I’ll need that “obsession” when the writing gets tough.
So I’ve decided my next WIP (Work in Progress) will surround the mythical Norsemen that came from the North like a cold, sharp wind and took Medieval Europe by storm (and sword). Two things you MUST do when starting a new historical fiction project is (1) read your genre and (2) research the period.
For the first part, I’ve picked up Linnea Hartsuyker’s The Half-Drowned King, which I saw in a local bookstore a few days ago and loved the cover artwork. I’ve read through Chapter 1 already and I’m hooked. SUmmary below:
Since the death of Ragnvald Eysteinsson’s father in battle, he has worked hard to protect his sister Svanhild and planned to inherit his family’s land when he comes of age. But when the captain of his ship tries to kill him on the way home from a raiding excursion, he must confront his stepfather’s betrayal, and find a way to protect his birthright. It is no easy feat in Viking-Age Norway, where a hundred petty rulers kill over parcels of land, and a prophesied high king is rising.
But where Ragnvald is expected to bleed, and even die, for his honour, Svanhild is simply expected to marry well. It’s not a fate she relishes, and when the chance to leave her stepfather’s cruelty comes at the hand of her brother’s arch-rival, Svanhild is forced to make the ultimate choice: family or freedom.
Drawing from the Icelandic Sagas, The Half-Drowned King takes inspiration from the true story of Ragnvald of Maer, the right hand man of King Harald Fairhair, first king of all Norway, and his sister, Svanhild, as she tries to find freedom in a society where the higher her brother rises, the greater her worth as a political pawn.
For the research part, I’ve also picked up a few new books:
- The Viking Warrior by Ben Hubbard
- Vikings: Raids, Culture, and Legacy by Marjolein Stern & Roderick Dale
- Norse Myths by Martin J. Dougherty
I’ve started with Hubbard’s and really learned a lot about the culture. I thought I knew about the Vikings, but there are so many intricacies and unique elements to the culture. I have a couple of story threads poking around in my brain, but nothing concrete yet.
Once I’m done reading Harsuyker’s book and these research materials, that I’ll have a better grip on this world and the stories that are yearning to be told from it.