Guest Author: Gina Conkle

gina-conkleGina Conkle writes Viking and Georgian romance with a new dip into hot contemporary romance. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.

The Story Behind the Story by Gina Conkle

 Thank you, Patty, for hosting me on your blog. I love talking Viking romance.

Every story has its seed moment, the “What if…” wondering that starts a novel. With Norse Jewel, the moment came in 2002. I was watching Gladiator when a thought occurred to me: What if a Viking chieftain wanted to lay down his sword and be a farmer?

I’d been devouring books on Viking history after a 1999 trip to Sweden. The surprise is Vikings have breadth and depth which goes beyond the stereotypic violent raider image. True, they were heroic and often vicious fighters. Revenge is part of their cultural ethos. So is equality between men and women. Nowhere else in Dark Ages history will you find a people allowing widespread equality between men and women. The right to inherit land and wealth. The right to fight in battle. The right to lead.

But, one historic event really grabbed me —the peaceful exile of Swedish Viking King Olaf Skotkonung in 1022.

King Olaf came to power in 1008 in Svea (i.e. Viking Age Sweden encompassed the islands of Aland, Gotland, and territory around Uppsala). He was by all accounts a good king, keeping peace and prosperity. His queen was Estrid, a woman of Wendish origin (modern day Poland). It’s believed she shared her beliefs in the White Christ (Christianity) with her husband. It’s possible he converted.

History tells us Swedish Vikings were the richest and most violent of all Viking groups. Yet, darkness stains their past. Svea held onto the 9th year siddur of human sacrifice until almost 1200. The rest of Vikingdom quit the practice around the year 1000.

In 1022, time had come for the 9th year siddur. King Olaf astonished his people by calling for the end of the practice. Here’s where I’ll stop explaining history because this is where Norse Jewel begins. Most people assume all Vikings are gung ho pagans, but they were as diverse in their pagan worship as Americans. Vikings had many sects and non-believers as America today has Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Atheists, and so on. This is evident in the various modes of Viking burial. Each Viking sect practiced different burial customs.

But, I digress. You want to know about Hakan and Helena!

All my books start with persistent characters talking in my head. In this case, a minor Viking chieftain, Hakan, wants to lay down his sword and be a farmer (like Maximus). Along the way he buys a Frankish thrall (slave) named Helena. He wants to continue his lucrative wine trade with the Franks (France) who make fantastic wine — history hasn’t changed much there! He needs someone to teach him Frankish and keep his longhouse.

Weary and ready for peace, Hakan goes home to find his best-laid plans upset. Deeply loyal to his king, Hakan is honor-bound to do Olaf’s bidding…but Helena thaws his icy heart.

And so their love story goes…

****

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Gina! Here’s the blurb and cover for Norse Jewel:

norsejewelWhat does the wolf-eyed Viking want?

Stolen by marauding Danes, Helena’s desperate to escape their camp. She wants to return home but the wolf-eyed Viking who bought her has his own plans.

Wearied of living by the sword, Hakan wants a quiet farmer’s life, yet his once tranquil homeland’s in turmoil, and his new Frankish thrall vexes him for her freedom at every turn. Even worse, the fair maid lures him with her laughter and smiles. Betrayal has left the warrior cold to other women until one hot summer his icy heart thaws to the clever woman. Helena weaves happiness into his hard life, and soon she questions her own desires. But, shadows of deceit spread across the kingdom, reaching Hakan’s farm. Old loyalties call on the Viking to wield his sword again, but at what cost?

My thoughts:

I was captivated by this story of a strong Viking chieftain who wants to leave his life of fighting and become a simple farmer. But violence is brewing, and King Olaf sends him on yet another mission. This is a gripping tale of betrayal, loyalty, and honor. I’m eager to begin reading Book 2!

Norse Jewel is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

Gina Conkle can be found at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

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About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
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9 Responses to Guest Author: Gina Conkle

  1. Interesting history many of us know little to nothing about. Norse Jewel sounds like a great trip into that past.
    Lucy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jeff7salter says:

    Welcome to 4F1H, Gina.
    I’ve long been fascinating with Viking history and lore. Though, to be truthful, most of my “information” came through Hollywood… rather than actual research.
    When I was a kid, there was a TV series (evidently in re-runs, since I think it played every week day afternoon) about Vikings. I loved that show and did my best never to miss it. Don’t recall the name, but it was either on CBS or NBC, because we didn’t get ABC clearly.
    I think it was a “spin-off” of one of two viking movies which had been popular in that general period.
    One starred Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. The other starred Richard Widmark and featured a lovely powerful melody which made a long run on the radio.
    All that’s to say, that I grew up on Vikings so I totally understand your own deep interest.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jeff,

      I saw that Kirk Douglas movie, “The Vikings” on TV one Saturday morning! A more recent Viking movie that I like is “Valhalla Rising” which is fairly dark and violent. Mads Mikkelsen stars in it. It’s the story of an enslaved (mute) Viking fighter living in a declining region and is patient quest for freedom. A young boy befriends the fighter who has been reduced to a low animalistic state. The hero becomes more expressive, more human as the two leave their old land in search of a new home. The director paints a grim world, parts of it true and parts of it fantasy. I don’t see the Vikings as quite so bleak and beleaguered as the director did, but fascinating all the same.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Welcome to 4F,1H, Gina! The Irish in me has to be a bit scared of the Vikings, but I can only imagine the fun of all of the research into their lives! It must be completely fascinating,finding more and more ‘gems’ of knowledge along the way.
    Best of luck to you!

    Like

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