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Friday, September 13, 2013

Taking Tea with - Venetia Green (and 'Name that Viking!")

My guest this week is Venetia Green, who may be a "new to you" author. Venetia caught my eye with her first book, A HAWK ENSLAVED, set in the Viking era. I know nothing about Vikings (except what I have learned from Horrible Histories). I now know they never had horns on their helmets and were quite disposed to have the occasional bath.  I am currently reading THE HAWK ENSLAVED and just love being transported into such a foreign (to me) world. It makes a fabulous change from the more conventional "historical romances"!

Ms. Green, if you would care to set your battle axe and shield on that table, I will pour tea or would you prefer coffee?

Tea? Pah! Vikings don’t drink tea! Gimme a good strong draught of ale.


Always a pleasure to welcome another “cross genre” writer to my tea table. I would describe your writing as historicals with romance and your period of passion is the Vikings.  “Vikings” hit the TV screens recently, what is your professional opinion of the portrayal of Viking life in the show?

Hmmm. Firstly, I resent the fact that the (Australian) lead role of “Vikings” has stolen the name of my own novel’s hero! (i.e. ‘Ragnar’)  So the series and I did not get off to a good start, but I opened my heart and was willing to fall in love.

It didn’t happen.  I simply found it too ludicrous that said Vikings were not aware of the British Isles just across the North Sea. We are not talking about the New World here, although if you believed the series you’d think it just as momentous an undertaking. All they had to do was sail along the coast of Denmark, Belgium and France and scud across the English Channel.  Come on – the Vikings weren’t stupid. They knew full well England lurked over the western horizon.

I could whinge on, believe me, but I’ll stuff a sock in it now and set my Tardis forward a few centuries …

You also write stories set in Medieval London? Where did the passion for these two disparate periods of history come from?

14th century England is SO much easier to research than 10th century Norway. Those pesky Vikings didn’t write anything down until centuries afterwards (unless you count the odd runic inscription) and archaeological digs only provide artifacts, not stories!

When you get to High Medieval England, however, there are reams of written stuff.  One of the wonderful things about historical fiction is real characters, places and events all jostle into your story from the primary sources and make the experience so much richer. You can dive into the historical sources and find stories just begging to be told.

London itself offers a rare glimpse of urban medievaldom. Most people hung out in the country in those days, so a slink down some slimy back alley is a welcome respite from glacier-capped fjords or rolling green hills!

You come from an academic background and famously abandoned your PhD to concentrate on writing fiction? What was your thesis and why did you feel the call to write fiction was stronger?

I did my history honours project on environmental change in medieval Iceland and simply adored it. But I was never able to hit upon a topic quite so enthralling for my PhD. I tried to get cross-disciplinary with an English-History thesis on popular culture interpretations of Vikings but just couldn’t make myself do it. You see, there was no end-goal to make the slog worthwhile. I didn’t want an academic job – I just wanted to write historical novels!

Why? Because a good novel is so much more vivid and visceral an experience than a history text. There is nothing like historical fiction to breathe life into the past.

Your first book A HAWK ENSLAVED, set in the Viking era, has had some glowing reviews. What’s next for Venetia Green?

I’m contracted for a novella set in medieval London at the time of the Black Death, and I’ve written a naughty Viking romp of a novel entitled The Good Viking. I had loads of fun playing with the stereotypes in that one. I even put horns on my hero.

But right now I’m absorbed in rewriting Chaucer. No hubris there, eh? More precisely, I’m reimagining the wicked Wife of Bath, she of 5 husbands and a fine bele chose.  My novel takes her all the way to Jerusalem in the company of some very dodgy characters.

 A HawkEnslaved
Venetia Green
A beautiful hawk-tamer enslaved by Vikings.
Ragnar Ulfsson must find his king a concubine. His solution is Isolde, captured whilst climbing the sea-cliffs for falcons. Enslaved in his own way, Ragnar has few qualms about binding another to his lord for the greater good. After all, it is an honor to share the bed of a king.
Isolde does not view slavery so complacently. Like a hawk caged, she is frantic to escape. But the king’s hall is a bubbling stew of political intrigue and Isolde is an essential ingredient in the mix. Her only hope out is Ragnar, who captured her but also promises to free her—eventually. But there is something strange about this dark Viking, oddly withdrawn and controlled, and their growing bond will lead her into greater danger still.
For Ragnar doesn’t touch women. For good reason.
(A Blush® Historical romance from Ellora’s Cave)

Buy Links for the Book:

About Venetia
Venetia was spirited from misty England to the wild west of Australia as a child and is still unsure which world she belongs in. Perhaps that is why she escaped into the past ...

When she grew up, Venetia spent 10 years studying literature and history before the need to write her own overwhelmed her – at which point she abandoned her PhD and dived headlong into historical fiction. Now she writes dark and sensuous romances set amongst the fjords of Viking Age Scandinavia and back-alleys of medieval London.

Visit Venetia's Website

Venetia Green (left) and Sasha Cottman (right) hamming it up as vikings at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia Conference (with historically incorrect helmets)

GIVEAWAY:  A copy of A HAWK ENSLAVED to the best names for this duo of fearsome vikings!