Tales of Freya The Current

April 27, 2017

The Mad Game Newsreel

Last week I introduced Sarah and the Tales of Freya. Well from today, the stories are available! What is more, the brilliant news is that The current is already at a top spot on Amazon! Well done Sarah.

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Sarah’s series Tales of Freya is a collection of sensual short stories set in the Viking age. Every story in that series is a stand-alone, and will be gradually released over the coming months (she is such a tease). And in each story, she will (literally) pull back the covers on another aspect of Viking lives …

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In her words…

The lovely Chris asked me to talk a little about how, when, and why I write what I write. The short version is: Vikings. The long version: sensual short stories set in the Viking age (the current “The Current”): the “Tales of Freya”. I am also currently working on a shield maiden adventure tale with lots of blood and fighting, novel-length, set in different locales all over the northern lands.

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In each story, I try to illuminate the sensual side of the world of battle and plunder so familiar from history books. I zoom in on the ‘smaller’ perspectives, the more normal people and events. I’m not interested in their kings and chieftains. I don’t write epic sagas about leaders and their armies. Their tactics and how countries were won and lost don’t interest me. The bigger picture of how countries’ fates were decided doesn’t interest me (much) in my own writing (although I love to read what my colleagues have to say about that bigger picture!).

Because for me, the stories lie in the smaller picture. I want to tell the story behind the story: the events that aren’t huge in the big picture, but mean the world to my characters: their loves, their desires, their needs and dreams.

Instead of painting a picture of how to save a whole country IN a battle, I focus on the normal guys, the simple warriors, who were ‘only’ farmers often. I don’t ask who won the battle, but what happens AFTER the battle: In “The Current – A Battle of Seduction” I delve into a rarely told part of the bigger picture: the aftermath of the ‘big’, the small in the epic.

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Therefore, thorough research is necessary. I would never use the era as mere stage props to just create an enticing setting out of cardboard. I weave in all the knowledge I have about people and circumstances of the time, trying to show a solid insight into the time and mindsets, as I see them. For that, I always discuss the small or big details at length with my researcher friends and beta-readers: How did the Vikings clip their nails? (probably knife); How long would a march on foot in winter from Kaupang to the Onna area take? (depends very much on weather and fitness of the walker, but probaby 3-4 days); How would a Viking treat a bow-wound? (much discussion about this one and thanks to my reenacting friends, who even break bones to add to my authenticity …) And for “The Current”: Did Viking trousers tear easily? My pet researcher says no, but I had to disagree for the storyline’s sake, as you’ll see below.

Of course, I don’t always get it right. I have to handle the experts’ criticism, too, and decide which facts cannot be reinterpreted, and which I can alter for the story’s sake. Creative freedom, I often grin, and happily cut a rope around a slave’s neck. But oh, I had to argue my case there: When discussing the upcoming “Monk”, the third in the series, my researcher insisted that a Viking would never cut a valuable rope; his heart was literally bleeding when my Viking pulled out his knife. But I needed one swift, strong movement to startle the captured, tied up monk, so fiddly iron collars just wouldn’t work in the same way! So I shamelessly wound the rope around the monk’s neck and ignored my researcher’s protest. Generally speaking, readers can rest assured that I know my stuff, but there sometimes is a reason to alter historic actions ever so slightly.

From an artistic point of view, it comes in handy that about the Viking era there are relatively little archaeological facts and findings tying me to specific interpretations of the time. I can play with what is known, and develop my own view of “what people would have been like”, without leaving the paths of truth.

So back to my torn trousers-example and the first story in the “Tales of Freya”:

In my latest series The Current my warrior Aldaith arrives by a stream, exhausted after the battle, adrenaline still raging in his blood. After hours in the shield wall, his trousers are torn. It is what I imagine a warrior’s clothes to look like after an epic battle I’m not further interested in. I wanted to show his state afterwards, and how unprepared he is for the trial he walks into: a skilled and deadly, but seductive shield maiden invites him into the water. She is in the mood for another, very different battle. Challenging him. And so the trousers give my shield maiden, Nyssa, something to tease him with, to open the game.

But, you should have guessed it, here my favourite researcher disagreed: being a reenactor, he said Viking trousers were sturdy and surely did not tear easily, even in battle, and if they did tear during fights, the fighter’s legs would be gone with them. Sword and axe blows, you know.

Hm. I still needed my man Aldaith in one piece though, so that he could attract that special woman – and battle it out with his female counterpart, in a sensual way. Cut up legs, however realistic they might have been (and I saw the footage of severed bones from real warrior graves!), wouldn’t work for a hot-blooded encounter. So I kept his legs in one piece, but the trousers in several, and added all sorts of other wounds, too. Wounds my two warriors could start a proud conversation about, boasting as I imagine the fighters of the time did after the rush of battle. So they could test their strength on a whole other level … to ultimately engage in another battle, a battle of seduction.

But will Nyssa’s unusual, womanly weapons be enough to bring Aldaith, the mighty warrior, to his knees? Who wins the upper hand in this trial of strength? Man or woman?

No matter how different the mindsets and beliefs around honourable death were back then, I imagine their power play would have been much more physical in every way, given the adrenaline and rush of just having survived a real battle. I tried to tease out the underlying Current, the primal instincts that kick alive in such an unusual fight. And I imagined it to be very healing encounter, for my couple, to let go completely and focus back on basic needs, the physical: on body and lust, a different rush – to regain their sanity after the insanity of the battlefield. In sensual play.

The Current – A Battle of Seduction is free and releases today

Here she is…

 

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