Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Viking Week: interview with Heather Day Gilbert, author of God's Daughter

Welcome Heather! We are so happy to have you here today and feature your book this week, and I am excited that you have agreed to share a bit about yourself.

Q: First of all to ward off this crazy, persistently chilly weather, French vanilla coffee, hot cocoa, or steaming tea?   ;)

Oh, boy. The answer is ALWAYS coffee for me, no matter what type! A nice cappuccino sounds really good today...

Q: What causes are you passionate about, and do they find their way into your writing?

I'm passionate about many things, but one issue that's found its way into all my books so far is the need to present marriage realistically. I think most married couples, if they're honest, would say they have gone through some really rough times, even if they're just newlyweds! There are seasons to marriage, and I feel it's important to show the ups and downs we all experience. Another topic I often find creeping into my stories is the supernatural, because I think it's a hard thing to understand—yet it's so important to look at it biblically.

Q: If you could sit down and interview any person, fictitious or real from any time, who would that be and what is the first question you would ask?

I think right now, it would definitely be Freydis, daughter of Eirik the Red, and the woman who will be the main character in my second Viking novel, Forest Child. She did some things historically and I really want to know the true motivations she had. However, I'm afraid I might hate her answers and then readers would hate her too! I'm really striving to incorporate the reality of her choices with the reasons that could have pushed her into them.

Q: Who have been your mentors, and how did they help you most?

My Grandma Wilcox, my great-aunt Jenny Lee (also a writer), my parents, my in-laws, my siblings...honestly, my family has been so supportive of every writing endeavor. But it's really the prayers that are the biggest help. Prayers are powerful, even if you feel like they're not being heard. My mom also taught me the importance of giving things up to the Lord—which means asking Him for guidance and then, often, taking those hard steps of obedience.

Not to mention my husband, who I would say has really pushed me to ask those hard questions of the Bible and has helped me understand it better. I have so much respect for him.

Q: Which parts of your wonderful Viking heroine Gudrid are you, and which are the heroine you aspire to be?

Great question! Our characters often reflect us in some ways as authors, and you really have to get into their heads when you write in first person, as I do. I'm more like Freydis in some ways and more like Gudrid in others. I feel compassion for others and have that desire to heal, like Gudrid. But I also tend to run out and fight, like Freydis. Also, my in-laws are a huge, loving part of my life, like they are for Gudrid—they are my family.

As to what I aspire to with Gudrid: I love her deep faith in God's goodness. I tend to question everything, but Gudrid tends to trust.

Q:  What message do you hope your readers will take away from your books? And can you hint at any works to come?

I hope they take away several things:

1) Vikings weren't that weird or different from us on many levels. They had the same motivations (just like humans throughout history).
2) Lust in marriage can be overcome, as well as a host of other misunderstandings.
3) Paganism was not a good thing for the Vikings.
4) Sometimes we don't give our spouses enough credit.

As far as upcoming novels, I have a contemporary Appalachian mystery, Miranda Warning, which will release (hopefully!) June 20, 2014 (West Virginia Day). I'm so excited about this book, which brings modern West Virginia to readers...and my main character, Tess Spencer, is close to my heart.

My second book in The Vikings of the New World Saga will be next in line for publication—Forest Child. I'm figuring this won't release until 2015. Again, Freydis is such a multi-faceted gal—an anti-hero in some ways—that I want to be sure I take time to get her right, plus integrate all the historical details properly.

Q: Do you have a question you would like our blog readers to answer?

I'd just love to know what you think about books with married main characters, and what the benefits/drawbacks of those might be. Since that's all I've written so far, I'd like your input (I have thought about writing YA or NA).

Heather has graciously agreed to give away an ecopy of her wonderful book to one lucky commenter. Please leave your email when you reply to be entered.

Author Bio:
Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling. Heather regularly posts on Novel Rocket about self-publishing.

You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert—Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Her Viking novel, God's Daughter, is an Amazon bestseller. You can find it on Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Viking Week! God's Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert: review and giveaway

Has this long winter got you feeling like you've moved to Iceland, minus the volcanoes? It has for me. Here in upstate NY we have small glaciers in our back yards, and the reindeer are being rounded up for our monthly trek to the store. Well, maybe not literally. But it is starting to feel like it.

As they say, when in Reykjavik, do as the . . . . oh, wait. That's Rome. But as long as you've come for Viking week, pull up a fur and a cup of grog, and warm yourself by the fire. I have a story to review that I think you are going to love!

God's Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert.

This is not your mama's bonnet and buggy romance. This is a story in which heroines wear axes and know how to use them, where wolves--not diamonds--are a girl's best friend, and when men were either there to protect or pillage you. A girl had to be on her toes in 1000 AD, a time and place where winter sticks around most of the year and exploration to uncharted lands brings clashes with natives, unknown illnesses, mutiny among a rowdy crew, and rebellion among the slaves you rely on for daily living. And all the while you juggle that, you are caring for a newborn, delivering your sister-in-law's baby, and serving as healer. Not to mention dodging the pagan practices of the day, as you hope and pray you can influence others for the Christian God.

Sound like a good read? It was all that and much more. . .

One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to North America.
In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on hertraining as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a voyage to North America.
But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself—and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart.
Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands.God’s Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir—daughter-in-law of Eirik the Red, and the firstdocumented European woman to have a child in North America.

My review:
I've read dozens of inspirational titles in the last five years, and have loved a few, and enjoyed many more. What I value about any book is a fresh, original voice, learning a new history or setting, and falling in love with the characters. This book had it all.
Gudrid is a heroine in the true sense of the word, and her admirable strength and compassion in the face of powerful adversity and danger impressed me. But what will stay with me for a long time is her bared soul. As handy as she is with her Icelandic seax weapon and her ability to stand up against barbaric Viking men, what made me love her was her bared soul. She is a wonderful contradiction of strength and vulnerability, of morality and human weakness, of pain and healing. It was a pleasure to see how each of her longings and conflicts were resolved.
The author, who was new to me, had a lovely, "invisible" voice, meaning her vivid story world emerged in all five senses, while her intrusion in the story faded to nonexistence. The conflicts, tastes, longings, and experiences of each character were palpable, and told in first person present point of view, which added to the immediacy of the dangers, challenges, and hopes which move the story forward.
Likewise, the story delivered a powerful journey back in time to a thrilling time in history. I enjoyed learning about Norse custom and beliefs, particularly at a time when Christianity's influence challenged practices such as human sacrifice, rape and pillaging. The setting felt convincing, and in every way enhanced the page-turning plot.
I am eager to see the next installment of this series, and consider my week reading this book time very well spent.

As thanks for coming to our hearty Viking longhouse party, I am giving away my gently loved print copy of God's Daughter to one lucky commenter. Leave your name and email addy and I will select a winner on Saturday, March 8.

Stay tuned as on Wednesday, I will post an interview with Heather Day Gilbert and she will be offering an ecopy of God's Daughter to another winner, also to be drawn on Saturday.

Heather Day Gilbert writes character-driven novels that go beyond the vows, capturing the triumphs and heartaches unique to married couples. A graduate of Bob Jones University, she’s been married to her sweet Yankee husband for over sixteen years. After ten years of homeschooling and six years of writing, she really doesn’t have many hobbies. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, she believes that bittersweet, generational stories are in her blood.