– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Viking Chief’s Marriage Alliance’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Lucy Morris lives in Essex, UK, with her husband, two young children and two cats. She has a massively sweet tooth and loves gin, bubbly and Irn-Bru. A member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association, she was delighted to accept a two-book deal with Harlequin after submitting her story to the Warriors Wanted submission blitz for Viking, Medieval and Highlander romances.
Writing for Harlequin Historical is a dream come true for her and she hopes you enjoy her books!
A challenging wife
For a warrior Viking
When Thorstein Bergson rescues a beautiful woman from a storm-tossed long-ship he little expects to broker a powerful marriage alliance with her. This high-status ice queen is not the comfortable wife this warrior chief is seeking. But maybe the bitter-sweet pain in Gyda’s eyes hides another woman beneath? The one he tasted that first night when she’d kissed him with such pent-up longing…?
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Absolute pleasure, thanks for having me!
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve always loved building stories and worlds in my head. I even scribbled down a few ideas over the years. But I never had the confidence to finish a book or even contemplate about submitting it anywhere.
I did a media degree and then bumbled around until I eventually got a production assistant job at a magazine publishers. After I had my two children, I was at a loss as to what to do with my life. I’d given up work but still needed a focus and some kind of income, like a lot of women, I loved being a mother but also felt as if I’d lost a part of myself.
Writing was a great creative outlet for me, and there was something wonderful about snatching time to write during nap times and free moments. When I finished my first book I was elated, and after ‘editing’, or at least what I thought was ‘editing’ it. I thought ‘what the hell’ I’ll give publishing it a go…what have I got to lose?
Turns out that first book wasn’t any good, but it gave me the confidence to try again. I joined twitter and subsequently found writing tips, groups, and the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers scheme. The second year I was on the scheme I was thrilled to be offered a two-book contract by Harlequin Historical.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a young child I loved fairy tales. I guess that’s a huge hint to my romantic streak right there! Then I started to sneakily read my mum’s historical romances. She was a big Johanna Lindsey fan and I devoured every one of her books. My mum spotted what I was doing, and bless her, she only encouraged me to read more! What does a romance reader love more than books? Talking to other romance readers!
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I guess I’ve got to go for the queen, Nora Roberts. I’d love to know how she moves so seamlessly through different genres. As that’s something I’d love to do, I’d also love to know how she manages to write so much – her productivity is immense.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Ahh I’ve been asked this before, and I’m afraid my answer is very sentimental. I lost my mum in the autumn of 2020, so maybe my mum and my characters Gyda and Thorstein? That way my mum could get to know them. I’m so glad she was alive to learn about my publishing deal, but she passed away suddenly and never got to read my book (I’d insisted she wait until the final version). I’d love to spend a bit more time with her and for her to meet my characters, I think she’d have liked them. Plus, Thorstein is pretty hot so not bad eye candy for dinner!
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Now that my kids are at school (well depends on the latest lockdown), I try to treat it as a job and sit down to write after I’ve dropped them off.
Firstly, I always write a to do list while I drink the first (of many) cups of tea. I write down what I need to achieve that day, both in writing, promo, and personal life. I find it helps focus me and if I don’t do it then I feel like I’ve achieved nothing or I become overwhelmed by the list of things to do buzzing in my head. I have both a weekly to do list and a daily…I really like lists! Which I know is a bit dull!
I also sometimes light a candle. I heard that can create a sort of Pavlov’s dog response to accessing your creativity… not sure if it works though as I keep forgetting to bring the matches up with me, and the candle I last bought didn’t smell of anything – what a waste! Sometimes while I’m editing or doing promo work, I’ll play music quietly, but music can be a bit of a distraction so I won’t always.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
No, don’t worry. I rarely base characters on real people, maybe aspects of them, but never the ‘whole person’. I love to read and I think that helps with ideas and your skill as a writer. Sometimes I’ll think of a character first or a situation and then work from there. I started ‘The Viking Chief’s Marriage Alliance’ with the idea of storm and a shipwreck. I had the image of a broken longship smashed against the rocks, illuminated by the light of a burning tree. I loved the contrasting imagery, of fire and rain. I guess that’s where the idea of an ice queen heroine came from too. I used this image in the start of my book and the story went on from there.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I plot – but not in too much detail. I write the general gist of characters and storyline in one of my many notebooks. Then I write my ‘skeletal draft which is always very short and basic. I sometimes give this first draft to my poor critique partners who obligingly read my ‘hot mess’ and tell me what’s working and what’s not. I then go through fixing the problems in my plot and characters, and develop a much stronger, more detailed draft. I then edit and tweak this draft until I’m happy to send it out into the ‘real’ world.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Tip One: Finish your first book. Once you’ve completed your first you know you can actually do it. I spent far longer on my first book then any others…and it’s still unpublishable. You need to learn writing by doing, and there’s no point agonising for too long on your first book. Write it, edit it and then write the next. ‘The Viking Chief’s Marriage Alliance’ is the third book I’ve ever written. I was finishing my fourth book when I got the Call. Writing is not like a story with a beginning, middle and end, it’s a constantly turning wheel, and we’re the hamsters pushing it.
Tip Two: Find good critique partners, beta readers, writing groups. Not everyone will like or get your work. But hopefully, you’ll find some people that do. These people are like gold dust and I would not have my publishing deal without their advice and encouragement. My writing group and critique partners have lifted me off the floor when I’ve been rejected. They’ve also given me the encouragement and criticism to improve on my writing. By reading their work I’ve gained insight into my own words. They are essential. I’d also recommend the RNA New Writers Scheme if you’re writing romance.
Tip Three: Target your writing to what you know and/or love. I have loved historical romance since I first started sneakily reading my mum’s Johanna Lindsey books as a pre-teen. But I have no academic background in history, so there’s no way I could write my favourite sub-genre, right? Wrong. I’ve read this sub-genre for nearly twenty years. It’s amazing what you pick up along the way. So, write what you love. That’s not to say I don’t do any research, I do. But as it’s a subject I love anyway, I don’t mind doing it. You don’t have to be a history professor to write historical romance books, you just need to be willing to learn. Don’t let anyone or anything put you off from writing what you love.
What are your future plans as an author?
I’d love to write a series next. I’m thinking a trilogy maybe? I really hope people like my books and I can develop a readership with Mills and Boon. The idea of anyone ‘anticipating’ the release of my next book would be a dream come true! I follow my favourite authors on social media and amazon so that I always know when their next book is out…the idea anyone would do the same with me is inspiring….But we’ll see!
I’d like to explore different time period in historical romance…Maybe write something set in the ancient world.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Well as I mentioned my burning tree scene – I might as well show it. It’s at the start of my novel.
North Sea, Coast of Northumbria, 880AD
Thorstein Bergson’s longship crashed through the turbulent waves at a relentless pace. Even so, he feared it would be too late for the survivors of the shipwreck that lay broken upon the rocks. The wind and rain stung his face as mountainous waves threw his boat up and down with merciless fury. But he knew these waters, every dip and every shallow—unlike the unfortunate travellers who’d strayed too close to the broken teeth of land.
Above the wreck, high on an arching cliff, a lonely oak tree burned. Struck by lightning, it blazed from the inside out, its blackened branches reaching up into the storm as if screaming for mercy. Its centre a glowing beacon of death and destruction in the early light of dawn.
A message from the gods that even he could not ignore.
If there were any survivors they should leave an offering at the base of that tree. Without it, Thorstein would never have seen their longship and come to their aid. He was still unsure why he was risking his men’s lives, and possibly his own, to help strangers.
At least the storm that had raged throughout the night was beginning to die. Thor no longer beat his hammer in the righteous sky, and the lashing rain was beginning to ease. It wouldn’t be long before they reached the horseshoe of cliffs that surrounded his settlement’s harbour.
His friend Magnus came to join him at the prow of the ship. Magnus leaned his shoulder against the intricately carved serpent’s head and clicked his tongue against his teeth as he followed Thorstein’s gaze. ‘We shouldn’t sail too close to the rocks, or we might meet a similar fate.’
Thorstein grunted in agreement. The storm was running out of power, but the cliffs were treacherous at the best of times. Currently the tide was coming in, and it was coming in fast.
Magnus eyed his friend thoughtfully. ‘They’ll probably all be dead before we reach them.’
Thorstein frowned and folded his arms against his barrel chest. The longship slowed as his men turned the vessel to come abreast of the wreck. Both men braced their legs and barely moved as the ship swung to the side. They had been in worse waters than this.
Thorstein’s arm ring shone in the amber light of dawn and he stared at the burning oak above the wreck, his facial scar aching in the bitter whip of the wind.
‘I’ll get as close as I can,’ Magnus said, and he nodded.
He frowned at the survivors where they clung to the side of their upturned hull. Their pale, exhausted faces were like skulls in the weak light of dawn.
A cobalt cloak drew his eye. The shade was deep and rare, reserved for only the wealthiest of nobles.
Was this why Thor had brought him here? Was he to save a noble and win a reward?
Thorstein crossed his arms and braced his legs wide as his boat rocked from side to side. He had no need for wealth. His hoard was safely buried beneath his Hall. He had enough for both his future and the afterlife. No, there must be some other reason he’d been called to their rescue.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Lucy Morris.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!