Lori Soard is a novelist, editor and writer whose latest novel, Dear Viking, promises juicy thrills and romance galore. Lori is a good friend of mine; we worked together as editor and writer, writer and editor depending on how the company paired us up on a given content channel, for several years. I’m honored to share with you an inteview with Lori on her latest romantic novel, Dear Viking.
THE WRITER READS (WR) Tell us a little about Lori….the writer, the person.
LORI SOARD (LS): I’m actually pretty boring. My husband and I joke that we are the oldest non-senior couple we know. In the evenings, we like to put on our jammies and watch reruns of shows like Quincy on Netflix. We prefer hanging out with a few close friends at home to going to a party. He is my highschool sweetheart and we’ve been married for twenty-four years now. We’re at that stage in life where we have one daughter in college and one in high school. It’s different. You’ve spent your entire marriage raising children, working and focusing on everything the kids need and suddenly they are off living their own lives. We love it and hate it at the same time.
WR: Your new book, “Dear Viking,” sounds absolutely fascinating. What led you to write about that time period?
LS: I usually write contemporary novels, but I had this dream one night about a Viking standing on a hill with flashes of lightening lighting up the night sky behind him and his hair blowing in the wind. That image would not leave me alone and I finally knew that I had to write Rok Erikson’s story.
WR: You mentioned in the preview materials that the main character came to you in a dream. Does that happen often? How long was it before you were able to write the story of the character that appeared to you in the dream?
LS: It is actually very rare for me to come up with a character from a dream like that. What is more common is that I get a spark of an idea, jot it down and then start to think about it throughout the day until it takes shape. When you have a dream that won’t leave you alone, you have to suspect it might be God prompting you to write something. I really feel that is what happened with Dear Viking. Rok is a new Christian living among pagans. He is unsure about his faith, scared to share it – I think a lot of us struggle with those things. Even Christians who’ve lived for God for many years for themselves may not know how to step out of the box and talk to others about their faith. Trust me, if Rok can do it with all the obstacles he faces from his society and family, anyone can do it. That is the underlying message of this story woven between the intrigue and romance.
WR: The Viking time period is now featured on television and in movies, but for a long time, people pretty much assumed it was the ‘dark ages’ and that aside from raping and pillaging, nothing much happened. What do you think about this?
LS: I don’t think any of us would really want to live during the Dark Ages. I know I couldn’t survive without my electricity and running water. However, some of those shows focus only on the negative. The Vikings have a bad reputation and it is true that some of them conquered other societies with severe brutality. I cover that in my book. However, there were actually Christians among them. As Christianity always does, it grew and spread over time.
They also had a lot of innovative ideas, like the way they heated their long houses, grooming utensils and so on. They also had a justice system that was pretty interesting. It was called The Thing and was essentially a court system where tribal leaders came together and doled out justice to thieves, murderers and other criminals. Leani has to go before The Thing and her life is in the balance. Both sides are heard, much as in an American court today and then the council comes to a decision. The council could be seen as both judge and jury.
It was fascinating to study the Vikings. I didn’t know much about them when I started this book and the television shows weren’t available. I read old texts, books on Vikings and about the Middle Ages to learn what I needed to know.
WR: Who is your favorite character in your new book, and why?
LS: I relate to Leani, the heroine. She is fiercely protective of her sister and her family. I am that way.
You can do something rotten to me and I’ll probably just walk away and never look back, but if you attack my family, you better run. She is much bolder than I am, though.
I love that she is so firm in her faith and she knows that God has a plan for her but she isn’t going to just sit around and magically expect him to fix things. She knows she must take action, such as jumping over the side of a ship to escape, and God will do the rest.
WR: Is there an overall message in the story or would you say the book is just a really fun read?
LS: There is an underlying message of faith and overcoming reluctance to share that you’re a Christian with those who don’t understand Christianity. There is also a message about betrayal from those who are closest to you and forgiveness. However, it is also a fun read as Leani and Rok overcome all their differences and ultimately fall in love.
WR: Tell us a little about your research. Did you do a lot of research into the time period? Where did you start and how did you organize your materials?
LS: In addition to the reading about the time period, I do keep very diligent notes when researching. I have a separate notebook that I divide into sections with little sticky note tabs. I had a section for social customs, a section on Christianity of the time, a section on housing, food, etc. I did a lot of research on Christian monks of the time. I mention them at the beginning of the book. The Erikson family has pillaged a monastery. This is where Rok first was introduced to Christianity by a man that wanted to save his soul even as he himself was dying. Rok is dealing with his feelings of guilt and confusion over the way he was raised and his newfound knowledge of Christ.
WR: Are you planning any more books about these characters? Are we in for a new series?
LS: Not at this time. While I loved the character of the sister and the younger brothers and I can see turning their stories into a book, none of them are demanding it yet. Right now, my most demanding character is a 90-year-old woman named Libby. She is a secondary character in my book I’m working on right now and she is loud, brash, bossy and demands to be heard.
WR: What advice would you give aspiring novelists?
LS: Never stop studying the craft. Even if you have 50 published novels and are a New York Times best seller, there is always something new to learn. If you stop moving forward, then you are stagnant. We all know what happens to stagnant ponds. Do you really want to be a murky, green, stinky mess? Keep growing, keep trying, never give up.
WR: Where can our readers purchase copies of your book? Is it available in print and ebook?
LS: It is available in both print and ebook. You can purchase it on Amazon, Barnes and Barnes and Noble. A local bookstore should be able to order it, if you use the ISBN: 978-1611249675.
THANK YOU LORI! Lori is hosting a drawing on her website. If you sign up for her newsletter, you will automatically be entered into a drawing for a $10 Panera gift card (US recipients) and an electronic copy of my book The Lipstick Diaries (worldwide). Visit her website and click Newsletter in the tab to sign up for her newsletter and enter the drawing.