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Guest Author questionnaire OR they can send me whatever they wish to promote – you choose 🙂
Shield maiden of the (s)word
Book title/genre: The Awakening – Embrace beyond Passion, Historical Fiction, sensual romance
Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction (novels and short stories) primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. Her author page is: sarah-dahl.com
Blurb for collection Tales of Freya (of which The Awakening is the second, stand-alone story), and The Awakening:
In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives — all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives.
Ingrid leads a quiet, joyless life with a husband who is oblivious to her needs. Every time the dragon boats carry him away, she resigns herself to the solitude of her modest hilltop farm by the fjord. But her uneventful world is shaken to the core when the shadows of her house reveal a secret that sets her passions afire.
Visit me at: sarah-dahl.com
Mailing list for Book Alert: http://bit.ly/2me4HWn
Tell us something unique about you
Hm. I can unhinge my jaw like a snake. But this only upsets my dentist. And I have an internal clock: It assesses the exact time of day with a deviation of just three minutes, most times. My eyes are a spirit level so that hubby can come ask me if something hangs level on the wall or not, which maybe stems from the painting years. But the most interesting is probably that I have worked in J.R.R. Tolkien’s office at UCD Dublin! To be told that he sat in my exact spot to write and examine students (and the room number remains a secret!) was quite a shock to the system and is a great motivation for today’s creative work!
OMG!!! You sound like an astounding woman! I am doubly honoured to have you as my guest x
Has writing changed you?
It’s not so much the regular “writing” that changed me, but the perception of myself as “a writer”. It is very satisfying to be able to say I’m a professional writer, not doing it in my spare time, but during office hours. To see myself like that, to tell people who ask “What do you do?” – “I’m an author” has changed my life. It is very much a deeply satisfying step to “be” a writer in my own and other people’s view. And it also is a great motivation for the daily grind: that I make myself sit down and work, every day, also stems from that perception. If it is my job, I have to do it. I cannot say I’m not in the mood, just like my husband can’t say he’s not in the mood for his job. Hence, the productivity and satisfaction increases further.
Absolutely agree. Writing is my job and i feel guilty if I have a break – my husband doesn’t always get one…
If you could be anything else, what would you be?
Apart from the fact that I don’t want to be anything else? Maybe a painter then. I love expressing my creativity on canvas or page. A painting is like a story, in a way, just much more immediate and faster to ‘get’. But writing is now my obsession, has become ‘me’. There’s nothing else that I feel happier with. But if I was forced: I’d like to be an archaeologist (Vikings), climatologist (Clouds! Storms! Natural disasters!) or biologist (just nature and its secrets).
Painting is one of my own wishes – I cannot draw but stare longingly at others who do!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That was three years ago, when a magazine asked me to write a serialised novel for them to publish in monthly instalments. It started my German novel “Tilda & Leo – The Lion in the Rectory” and has been a great success as a paperback, too! I’m forever grateful that the editor-in-chief put his trust in me and supported me along the entire journey from monthly excerpts to paperback and readings that I am lucky to do now! Never ever would I have dreamed this to happen.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Do your homework. Don’t think the first story that your loved ones loved is brilliant (They always will love what you do, and most people cannot even imagine to finish a whole book, so their awe is real, but not objective). Just like a sportsman or artists in other fields, like a painter and his first painting, you can’t expect your first stories to be ‘up there’ and in the same league as more experienced authors. You need to practise, a lot. And input and the will to learn the craft. And to find your own unique ‘voice’ it takes years and years. All this cannot be acquired with mere talent and all on your own. Listen to criticism, be open for it.
What’s your next project?
The Tales of Freya are a collection of sensual short stories set in the Viking age. So after this second one, the third one is ready to go: “Monk” is about … well, a monk, being captured by a Viking and brought home to help his wife. But not in the way he anticipated and feared, and he doesn’t know what is worse then: that he was so totally wrong about what he thought his Viking capturers are like, or to see his oaths challenged. It’s a very daring story, the most daring for me to date. I still sweat at the initial hesitation I had to overcome until I could just write from the heart and not fear any prejudice and judgement. It has become a beautifully raw story with lots of passion and surprises.
Sounds intriguing – a monk and vikings…
What do you like to read in your free time?
For my genre I have to soak up everything there is about my chosen era, tirelessly. I read all the books – non-fiction preferably – and try to follow new discoveries in archaeology and linguistics, for example.
Of course, I read what my colleagues come up with, historical fiction in similar eras and settings, and I read other self-published authors who intrigue me and who I want to support. There are such gems out there, those who took the time to find their ‘voice’ and develop the craft … We should give them the recognition they deserve.
I would be honoured if you’d consider my own journey into the Vikings, ‘Freya’s Child’ as I intend to read yours… I have pre-ordered it.
When I read hard, historical facts, in a museum or on site, I imagine what it “must have been like”. One striking example that I read is that Vikings did expose their unwanted children to nature to let them die. There’s an abundance of possible personal stories behind such a find! Out of this snippet from a text in the Viking museum at Hedeby became the flash fiction “Maelstrom” you can read for free on my website.
And this example also explains the What inspires you? (often the research itself)
What role does research play in your writing?
Research is the vital basis! Who writes in a certain era has to know the details. It needs a lot of passion and commitment to dive that deeply into a time period that one is able to write without thinking much about “What it was like then”. For me, the German (back then Danish) Haithabu/Hedeby Viking town and museum is my favourite place to go and immerse myself into Viking spirit. It conjures up new story ideas, and deepens/solves older ones. Situated at the estuary of the Slien, the ages-old site is still in its original place, one of very few, and still embraced by the protective earthen mound’s half-circle, as it was then. It’s setting for many of my stories. Some of the Viking townhouses have been restored and make up a tiny settlement now, where once over 1,000 people from all over the world lived together. The interiors of these houses play a central role in my story The Awakening, too. A hanging shelf, a smoke-blackened roof, sheepskins or the bobbing of an empty rowing boat tell stories.
I take long strolls there. To be standing high on the mound, face in the harsh winds and looking at the vast flatness below, across the re-erected pier and the grey, windswept water, over the houses they revived, the landscape and sea-level fairly similar to ancient times, is just magical. Just soaking up atmosphere, I walk out onto the rough pier and imagine a long row of ships of all sizes. The long-gone stalls and shouting of people and the noise and stink. With a 180-degree turn, I take in the entire landscape that must have looked similar then, and which I can grasp today still, to bring alive in my stories.
So research is historical truth mingling with imagination. When I drive home, I’m always overflowing with creativity. Hedeby is my place of inspiration and not just mere research. It says so much about the normal people of 1,000 years ago, I find it easy to come up with fascinating stories that ‘could’ have happened then.
Sounds wonderful, perhaps one day my interest in Vikings will see my cross the sea and venture where they thrived.
Thank you so much for being my guest. It is always a pleasure meeting new authors, but especially one who shares the interest of Vikings. 🙂