Welcome, Andrea R. Cooper, author of Viking Fire, a historical romance, published by Crimson Romance. Let's get to know Andrea better by beginning this interview with her bio:
Andrea has always enjoyed creating characters and stories. But it wasn't until she was in her late twenties that she started writing novels.
What happened that ignited the writing flame in her fingers? Divorced, and disillusioned by love songs and stories. They exaggerate. She thought. Love and Romance are not like that in the real world. Then she met her husband and realized, yes love and romance are exactly like the songs and stories. She is now a happy wife, and a mom to three kids.
Once, she heard about a writer who never let her characters deviate from the script. If they did, she just killed them. How sad, Andrea thought. For her one of the best parts of being a writer is letting the characters have a mind of their own and seeing where the story takes them.
She loves this quote from Robert Frost, which sums up her opinion on allowing the characters their freedom: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
Andrea writes fantasy, paranormal and historical romance. When not writing or reading, one may find Andrea dancing in Zumba. Currently, she has two novels published with Crimson Romance: The Garnet Dagger - a fantasy/ paranormal romance Book One in the Garnet series, and Viking Fire - historical romance with a touch of magic. She hopes you will enjoy the stories as much as she did writing them.
She believes in the power of change and counting each moment as a blessing. But most importantly, she believes in love.
Here's a blurb from Viking Fire:
In 856 CE, Ireland is a land of myth, magic, and blood. Viking raiders have fought the Irish for over half a century. Rival Irish clans promise only betrayal and carnage.
Kaireen, daughter of Laird Liannon, is suddenly forced into an arranged marriage with her sworn enemy, a Viking. She refuses to submit. With no mention of love, only land and the protection of her clan, she endeavors to get her betrothed banished from her country. Will love find its way around her stubborn heart?
Bram, the Viking, finds himself without future or inheritance as a young son in his family. A marriage to the Laird's daughter would grant him land if he swears fidelity and his men will fight along with the Liannons against any foe Irish or Viking. However, the Laird's feisty daughter only holds animosity for him and his kind. Is marriage worth the battle scars of such a relentless opponent?
With the blame for a rival laird's death treacherously set against the Liannons, Kaireen and Bram must find a way to lay aside their differences as an unforeseen darkness sends death snapping at their heels.
Andrea, what jumped out at me in Viking Fire are the insights into several areas which are prominent in your book. How much research did you do on the Vikings and the Irish?
I researched for years. Well, collectively. I loved history since having a wonderful World History teacher in ninth grade. The medieval and Viking periods are one of many that I cannot get enough of. I am always learning something new. Recently, archeologist discovered a Viking sword that was lighter and more durable than its counterparts. They also found forgeries of this sword – so it was like the Gucci of ancient times ;)
When writing Viking Fire, I compiled all my prior knowledge and researched what was missing to write the story.
The idea came to me while reading that the name Lauchlin was Gaelic for Viking and some historians believe Vikings married Irish women to gain land, etc. And since my grandmother’s maiden was McLauchlin, I couldn’t resist.
I'm wondering if my relatives named McLaughlin are related?
They might. My grandmother told me when attending a McLauchlin family reunion, the hostess at the hotel grew concerned that they had scheduled too many at the same time and place, because people signed in as McLaughlin, McLauchlin, Glothin, and McGlaughlin.
Ooh, I know McGlothlins, too.
Your heroine is proficient in archery. What research did you do on this subject?
I read books like Women Warriors, and Uppity Women of Medieval Times, as well as tons of information from the library and internet. When the men and husbands were away at war or crusades, it was the woman of the castle who commanded the defenses.
Since Viking Fire takes place in Ireland, I merged a bit of Celtic women warriors like Boudicca into Karieen’s character.
From where did the idea for using a carrier pigeon come from?
I had to figure out how the spy in Kaireen’s clan would relay messages. Fantasy novels have used owls, ravens, and pigeons as messenger birds. However, since I wanted to be as accurate as possible, I researched the history of these birds and was delighted to find that King Cyrus of Persia used carrier pigeons in the 6th century.
To be able to be convincing in your writing about the Vikings, you use Norse words. What research did you do on language?
Norse written language was in runes, which have multiple meanings within each letter. However, we have translations from the sagas; so I used pieces from those and online research.
You really detail information on dyeing fabric. Being a Clothing and Textiles major in college, I was intrigued, especially when the character used saffron which is costly today. Thoughts?
Yes, you are correct. Even during medieval times, saffron was a costly dye. I knew nothing about clothing and textiles until I wrote this chapter. Then I devoured all the information I could find. From watching the History Channel, I heard about how they would put the vats of dye or water in the dungeons, because the surface would ripple if an enemy tunneled underground.
However, I added this expensive item into the scene, as this was the Laird’s keep. He would have the riches to pay for such wealth and saffron dyed garments was one way to flaunt it.
Your battle scenes are fabulous. Are you one of those writers who wield a sword and then jots down movements?
I wield a sword on video games…does that count? LOL. With two sons (an 18yr old and a 4yr old) I’ve had years practice dodging plastic swords. And of course, I will also practice with my 14month old daughter as soon as she does more than beat the sword on the furniture or floor.
You are too funny. I wielded many a light sabre in my house.
Ah ha, we can have a battle if we met in person ;)
I found the food scenes incredibly interesting. What did you discover on this topic?
The most information I found on food and dining, amazingly, was in a kid’s book about medieval times. There were pictures, diagrams, and explanations that did not take hours of reading to decipher.
In medieval times, hey did not understand food safety or the food pyramid. Bread was the main staple of the lower class, while the upper class feasted on lavish meals where exotic meats were the main course.
Bathing customs predominate in Viking Fire. Where did you find out about this?
I read a lot of history and make mental notes. Somewhere I heard about not only public baths, but in some European cultures, it was customary for the woman of the house to bath a male guest. People would even have bathing parties where men and women would bath together, eat, and play cards. They did not attach the stigmatism that we have now to such practices. To them, I imagine it was practical not to have to heat water for so many people.
I'm picturing a Viking hot tub party. Lol
You would not be far off on that one. Vikings were also the most hygienic compared to Europeans of the time.
These quotes intrigued me: "Love makes us fall hardest when we have no intention of doing so." "…easier for him to raise a red dragon then a red-haired daughter." "Never turn your back on a cornered rat." "The sands of time spill away." "…slithering like a snake underneath a sleepless bed." "You have the manners of a swine." "…love blossomed more in a day. It was as if once the small seed took root, it grew like a forest of ancient yew trees."
From where did these tidbits come from?
These came from my imagination, experience, and the characters. I do not plan my novels ahead of time. I have a vague idea of how it will end—for example in Viking Fire I knew Kaireen and Bram would have a HEA—but their journey of how they arrived did not happen until I wrote the ending. When one of the characters revealed her magical past, I learned about it at the same time as Kaireen.
Andrea, that's also called great writing. Congratulations. Speaking of writing, let's talk about some unique things in Viking Fire. Is this an old saying: Breton, the devil that dragon often disguises himself as an angel of light.
Yes, this is an old saying. I heard of a reference of Breton being another name for the devil. Since medieval times were so superstitious and many unexplained events and illnesses blamed on the devil and demons, I thought it fitting to add this phrase into the story.
And what is a blood eagle?
A blood eagle was a type of tortured execution spoken of in the Viking sagas. The back was cut into, and the ribs then broken open. The lungs yanked out, bloody and flutter like the wings of an eagle.
Ick. Ick. Ick.
How did you get from a fulltime Sr. Buyer career to writing historical romance?
The journey from working fulltime to writer came much earlier. As early as I can remember, I have always thought up characters and stories. I was in second grade and friends would come over to me at recess and ask what we were going to play. Then in my teens until my early twenties, I wrote poems. However, it was not until I was in my late twenties that the characters and plots refused to be silent and I started writing.
I wrote fantasy, paranormal and historical romance for years. Due to my now four year old constantly getting sick in daycare, I quit my job (since Nannies made more money than I did) and became a stay-at-home mom by his first birthday. Then all the novels I wrote tapped me on the shoulder and asked to look for publication. I did and am happy now to be a published author.
Now, down to the nitty gritty of writing. What is the hardest part --drafting, editing, research, or marketing? Why?
Marketing. I am a shy person online and off. It is hard for me to figure out what to say or do that would make someone interested. I dislike selling. I was the kid in band that was lucky if I got half the sheet filled up with candle orders—while others had ten pages full.
Lol. I sympathize with that kid. I had to sell Campfire candies.
Editing is a close second. I am ok with editing, but by the fifth or sixth round, I am ready for someone else to help. It is hard to turn off my editor when I read for pleasure.
I think most of us agree with you about editing. What is your newest project? Anything else you want to share?
I am working on revisions to Son of Dragons, Book Two of The Garnet Dagger series. This is a fantasy / paranormal romance. I am also tossing around an idea of adding a paranormal twist to a Native American historical romance trilogy, and a YA Paranormal Romance. Now, if I could only clone myself a dozen times, I would get everything done and not lose sleep or my house fall apart.
Let's do a speed round:
Favorite color: Blood Red. Not orange, or maroon, but dark crimson red. Always.
Favorite drink: Either Lambrusco Red Wine at night or Iced Soy Chai Latte for daytime.
Favorite movie: Too many. Favorite historical: The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. Fantasy: Lord of the Rings (all), Contemporary: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (when I saw this movie in the theaters, I was upset that it was going to be like War of the Roses, end horrible, and them hating each other. *spoiler alert—I was so glad I was wrong.
Favorite accessory: My Kindle
Thank you, Andrea, for being with Coffee Time Romance and me. I wish you much success.
Connect online with Andrea at:
Email | Facebook | Blog | Website
Find Viking Fire at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Google Books
Viking Fire Amazon: http://goo.gl/71VAsf
Viking Fire B & N: http://goo.gl/EvBxwf
Viking Fire iTunes: http://goo.gl/fQuKBd
Viking Fire Google Books: http://goo.gl/y8p6E9
Viking Fire is on the Kindle Daily Deal for 99 cents until February 2, 2014