Please make welcome the fabulous and talented author, Sarah Dahl! She's here to chat about her new release, Tales of Freya, a collection of sensual short stories set in the Viking Age. The Tavern is serving mead and a special Nordic Ginger Cake. Get comfy and let's hear what Sarah has to say...
MM: Welcome to the Tavern, Sarah! Congratulations on your new release. Delighted you could join us today. Can you tell us about your current work-in-progress?
SD: After this sensual romance collection (which released Dec 14) I have to go back to my novel that I’m working on for three years now. I wrote the first draft of “Birth of a Shield Maiden” during NaNoWriMo 2015 (omg), then let it rest, and edited on and off – without knowing what my pantsed plot was really all about. That’s the pitfall of pantsers doing NaNo: You write a lot in a short time, and then have to figure our what you wanted to say; what your structure should be, etc. So during one productive café house morning I had this Eureka-moment of finally seeing how the whole thing would actually make sense – and where to trim it. The monster is around 180,000 words currently. Now it’s about reworking ALL the 100 chapters AGAIN … But this story about a young Viking woman seeking revenge and accidentally finding love on the way is too important to me to not do it justice. So 2019 is the year I’m actually sitting down to make it what I subconsciously wanted it to be: an action/adventure romance with grit.
MM: You have captured my full attention, Sarah! So excited for you and looking forward to this story. What inspired you to write this book?
SD: This book was inspired by my favourite place to go when seeking inspiration: Hedeby/Haithabu Viking centre in northern Germany. It lies at the exact spot where the early medieval town was, and some of the houses and streets and the pier have been re-erected. The protective earthen mound is still there; and I can go wander around where my protagonists walked. I made it a habit now to go there every spring to immerse myself in Viking culture and daily life in a Viking town. Consequently, “Birth of a Shield Maiden” takes place there in those narrow, windswept streets and in the wattle and daub houses. I use one or two of the actual houses I stood in, and also the harbour with its reed-lined shore.
MM: I love researching historical sites and incorporating them into my stories. This sounds fascinating! Would love to visit. What’s your favorite item on your writing desk?
SD: My favourites are an unusual couple: a funny wooden Viking figure whose horns I had to break off of his helmet for reasons of authenticity (he still hasn’t forgiven me this act of emasculation), and his best pal, a Norwegian Fosse troll who always looks as if he is planning the next prank.
MM: Now that's a picture I'd love to see. Please share more about the Tales of Freya.
The magic of setting: seven stories, seven places – a multitude of inspirations
My collection of sensual short stories, the “Tales of Freya”, is set in the Viking age. It contains seven stories, which I imagine to be taking place in the 9th cent. But WHERE exactly in the Viking age are we?
1, “The Current – A Battle of Seduction” (introducing warriors Aldaith and Nyssa): set on and in an unknown river near a Scandinavian battlefield
2, “The Awakening – Embrace beyond Passion”: set in a mountain village with small port
3, “Monk – Captured by Temptation”: set in a rural Scandinavian farm
4, “Bonds – Under the Armour” (revisiting Aldaith and Nyssa): set in a forest with no clear location
5, “Healer – The Gift of Dreams”: set in a remote fjord farm and its grounds
6, “Tower – Unchained by Love”: set in an Irish village and round tower
7, “Battles – Sacrifices for Love” (wraps up Aldaith and Nyssa’s story): set on an Anglo-Saxon battle field, and later remote longhouse
As you can see, most stories have a rather vague setting. I never mention a specific area or town. It’s mostly about the natural environment and atmosphere instead of a certain location that is now lost. These natural environments can be felt by today’s readers much more easily, as if they were there. They connect with the weather, the smells, and textures better than they could with me describing some accurate historic spot.
Instead, I describe the rustling autumn leaves under Nyssa and Aldaith’s feet when they duel in “Bonds”. I write about the rain on Ingrid’s face when she runs from her lover in “Awakening”. I detail the smell of the summer grass and the awkward swaying of tree tops above Magnus when he lies there in pain, in “Healer”. These very basic sensual experiences of the characters more easily carry over into today’s world; readers can immediately imagine similar settings and emotions from their own experience. They maybe couldn’t imagine a specific fort or town, however accurately I try to describe it, because it is long gone and somehow “dead” material. Nature experiences are universal and live on, across centuries, and they literally make my readers feel what my characters go through; what they see and touch. Because we all know first hand the crunch of leaves, the feeling of rain, the warmth of a summer clearing. These things are timeless – and with this timelessness comes a bridge of never-changing experiences that connects long-gone characters with today’s readers.
MM: Intriguing, Sarah. I'm looking forward to reading your tales. Wishing you all the best!
"Tales of Freya" by Sarah Dahl
A collection of sensual short stories set in the Viking Age
In this collection of adult bedtime stories, Sarah Dahl pulls back the curtain of history to depict the erotic lives of Viking men and women. Amid the stark landscapes of fjords, forests and snowcapped mountain peaks, her characters search for love and passion. Dahl authentically illuminates the sensual side of a world of battle and plunder in an alluring collection perfect for every lover of gritty Viking romance.
A warrior recovering by a river is drawn into an unforeseen skirmish with a beautiful shield maiden. An enslaved Christian monk is entranced by his captors’ pagan allure. A dissatisfied housewife finds that her home holds an unexpected and liberating secret. An injured farmer is captivated by the magic of his irresistible healer ...
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.
“The Last Kingdom meets 50 Shades of Grey”
“Truly Norse, gritty and authentic” (previous reviews)
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1790461111
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1790461111
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KYWSC7P
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KYWSC7P
About the Author:
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.
Author homepage: sarah-dahl.com