Part of my heritage is Irish and though I have never been there, I am fascinated by tales of the Irish coast. Mix this together with Vikings and the legendary tales of their raids along the coasts of Ireland and England and I am a captive audience.
When I first found about about Heidi Skarie’s newest book Annoure and the Dragon Ships I was fascinated by the mixture of Viking lore along with a very strong female character and her Druid training. Action, adventure and romance … the perfect mix! I had the opportunity to chat with Heidi about her books and how she came to write them.
Melanie Rockett: Your entry into the world of writing is quite fascinating, can you tell us the story of how you got started?
Heidi Skarie: I had a dream that was like watching an action-packed science fiction movie. Over the next two nights the dream story continued. At the time, my children were young and it was difficult for me to write down my dreams, but it happened to be Christmas and a three-day holiday weekend, so my husband Jim didn’t have to rush off to work. He watched our three children while I wrote down my dreams each morning.
During the next four nights I didn’t have any more dreams, which was just as well since my husband returned to work. The following weekend was New Year’s Eve, another three-day weekend. Magically the dream continued. On the sixth night I dreamed the conclusion of the story. I now had a ninety-page dream journal. It was a great story, but I realized I didn’t have the skills to write a novel.
I decided to learn how to write fiction novels: the art of creating characters and thinking up exciting adventures. I caught the writing fever and it became my passion.
Melanie Rockett: You have just published a new book Annoure and the Dragon Ships can you tell us how you came up with the idea for this book?
Heidi Skarie: My husband’s grandparents on both sides immigrated to Minnesota from Norway, so he has a Norwegian background. Both of us have been interested in the Viking culture for years. It is an exciting period of history. The Norsemen were skilled sailors and traveled vast distances. We went to an exhibit of Viking artifacts when it came to Minneapolis, traveled to Alexandria, Minnesota to see the Kensington Rune stone, and traveled to Moorhead, Minnesota to see the old Norwegian stave church and Viking ship.
The Vikings are known for their raids, but they were also traders and settled in some of the countries they invaded because land was scarce in Scandinavia. I became interested in their culture and the Vikings impact on England.
My own background is mostly English and I grew up on stories about England. I decided this era would be an interesting time period to write about.
As I started writing and researching this time period past life memories started bleeding through. I realized both my husband and I had lived in this time period.
In the coarse of my research, I traveled with my daughter to Jarrow, England and went to St. Paul’s church the place where the opening scene of my story takes place. When we we arrived, I was delighted to discover there was also a reconstructed medieval town nearby.
Later, my husband and I flew to Stavanger, Norway, rented a car and drove to Rosendale where Thorstein’s family farm was located. To get there we had to go through a tunnel cut out of bedrock under a bay, travel by car ferry, and drive on narrow mountain roads though some of the most beautiful country in the world. Obviously Rosendale has changed in over a thousand years and yet the mountains, ocean, the nearby island (where neighbors lived) and fjord are the same. Being there helped me write more realistically about the area.
I hope the story depicts the Norsemen in a way that shows their strengths and weaknesses and gives the reader a realistic glimpse into their lives.
Melanie Rockett: What is the story line for this new book?
Heidi Skarie: In 794 A.D., Annoure, a young noblewoman, is abducted during the second Viking raid on England. During the voyage to Norway, she sparks a feud between her captor Thorstein and another warrior. The adventure this incites calls on her courage and Druid training as she struggles to survive strange lands, people and customs in her quest to return home. Thorstein’s skills as a warrior, navigator and sailor are challenged in an adventure that strains lifelong friendships. He risks all to save Annoure and win back her freedom—and love.
Melanie Rockett: All of your books have strong female characters in spite of the fact that they are each unique stories. Can you give us thumbnail sketches of your two previous books?
Heidi Skarie: Red Willow’s Quest is a historical novel set in 1807 in the Rocky Mountains. It is about Red Willow, a young Native American woman studying to become a medicine woman. Red Willow must face tribal opposition, wild animals, enemy warrior and white trappers when she sets out on her quest, but she also finds love, courage and friendship along the way.
Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge is the first novel of a science fiction series. It’s set in a futuristic world during a time of interplanetary war. In the story, Coalition operative Toemeka Ganti is sent on a mission to help the local resistance overthrow the dictator who seized control of the government of Jaipar. Toemeka works with her partner Erling and Michio, a warrior trained to fight sorcerers, to free the people Jaipar and restore the rightful heir to power.
Melanie Rockett: I am always interested in how writers, write. Your historical novels are meticulously researched. I am curious to know how you go about doing research for your novels. Do you do a lot of research before you start and then weave your story into the information you have? Or do you start writing the story and then research to fill i? the bits and pieces you need to build the story and make the background accurate?
Heidi Skarie: I did a lot of research before writing Annoure and the Dragon Ships. Then as I wrote I continued to look up things as I needed them. I ended up with a large three-ring notebook that had a section with maps, on medieval England, on the Norsemen religion, clothing, housing and on the Viking trading routes. My research also included traveling to Norway and England.
Melanie Rockett: Even though Annoure and the Dragon Ships is hot off the press, I suspect that you might have other ideas projects on the back burner. What can we expect from you next?
Heidi Skarie: I am working on the second book in the Star Rider series. The working title is Light in the Darkness. War rages in the galaxy as Toemeka, Erling and Michio find themselves in the middle of the struggle to keep the Coalition of Free Nations from being destroyed and Jaipar from losing its recently gained freedom.
Here is a link to Heidi’s Amazon Author Page. Be sure to check back from time to time to see what new books she has out.
Heidi Skarie says
Thank you for the interview, Melanie. I also have some Irish in me. Visiting Ireland is on my bucket list.
I absolutely loved visiting Ireland (I might drag my husband back there!). I’m really excited to read this book, and the next Star Rider book when it comes out 😀
heidi skarie says
Thank you for the comment, Anna. I’m sure you’ll make it back to Ireland.
Coleen Rehm says
I absolutely loved this book. Completely captivating and transporting, it’s unforgettable.
Heidi Skarie says
Thanks, Coleen, for your nice comments.
Heidi is a writer who works hard at her craft. She is able to combine high adventure with romance and spirituality in her books. It’s a potent mix.
Heidi Skarie says
Thanks, Leslie, for your kind thoughts.
Laura Ely says
I thoroughly enjoyed Annoure and the Dragon Ships. Heidi is a wonderful storyteller. The plot moves along and the characters are well developed and complex. Heidi shares the spiritual insights of her characters without being preachy or simplistic. This book kept me up late at night reading one more page. That’s how I rate a good book! Annoure and the Dragon Ships would make a terrific movie!
Laura Ely, it would make a GREAT movie. I hope Heidi reads this and starts submitting to some film companies!
Heidi Skarie says
Thanks, Laura, I’m glad you enjoyed the book.
Elaine Paul says
I love your books! I have lived and worked on a native American reservation, and your research is authentic and very moving. While I haven’t lived in the age of your second novel, it too shows the marks of good research, which I still consider essential and one of the basics of good writing.
Besides good research, you show strong skills in drawing characters and plot. You also have the complexity of being able to write about spiritual living and lives. I am looking forward to reading y our new book. I am sure it will be one whopper of a read! Where can I buy it? (You deserve to be rewarded for your expertise.)
Much love, Elaine
Kimberly Stevens, author says
My partner and I read Heidi Skarie’s book,
Annoure and the Dragon Ship. We loved the action-adventure story. Additionally, we learned a great deal about ancient Nordic customs.
Thank you for this page turning event that we could read together.