#GuestBlogger Behind the Scenes: The Viking’s Witch (A Historical Paranormal Romance) by Kelli A. Wilkins

This “Behind the Scenes” blog is part of a series examining my romance novels. In each blog, I’ll talk about why I wrote the book, share my thoughts on the plot and/or characters, and reveal what I loved most (or least) about writing the book. Warning: Blogs may contain spoilers.

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Today I’m blogging about one of my favorite historical romances, The Viking’s Witch. The book is set in Celtic Scotland and blends a sensual love story with adventure and paranormal elements.

I loved everything about writing this book—the characters, the setting, the plot—and readers and reviewers loved it, too. When the book was originally published in 2012 by Medallion Press, it won an IPPY award for best historical romance e-book.

I’ve written a few detailed blogs about the characters, setting, research, the gritty details, conflicts, violence, and even the use of magic in the book. I won’t rehash all that here (you can read the other blogs in the blog section of my site: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/blog , but I will talk a bit about the origin of the book.

Like many of my romances, the idea for the story popped into my head one morning. I know it sounds strange, but the book came to me in a dream. It played out like I was watching a movie. When I woke up, I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down everything I remembered. It took me about two hours, and from there I created an outline and started writing.

I had to do a lot of research while I wrote the book. I knew the story took place in Scotland, but I wasn’t sure where—or when. I needed to set the book in a place where the Vikings traveled in their early years of exploration, but it had to be an isolated location. After much back-and-forth, I decided on the Orkney Islands, then I had to decide on which island to set the story. (There are 70 different islands, but only 20 are inhabited.)

After I knew the setting, I did more research to learn what life was like in thatcover time period for Odaria and Rothgar. I had to make the details realistic for the characters and the readers. Once I got a feel for what everyday life was like for each of them, I weaved the details into the story.

One way I did this was to have Odaria ask Rothgar questions (How did Norsemen travel so far across the ocean? What are their ships like?) and address the differences in their backgrounds. Rothgar also comments on how things are different on the island compared to his home and is proud to teach Odaria about his Nordic culture.

When writing, I also faced another big challenge: technically, Odaria and Rothgar would have been speaking different languages and would have trouble communicating. So I had to find a clever way for them to understand each other. In essence, I had to blend their two cultures together in a way that flowed with the story.

The opening scene is very powerful, and it was one of my favorites to write. When we first meet Odaria, she is about to be burned at the stake for being a witch. Her fellow villagers have turned against her, accused her of murder, and she’s been betrayed by everyone she knows. It’s a very dark time for her, and although deep down she is afraid, she doesn’t show it.

Instead, she calls down a curse on the villagers, and seconds later, screaming “demons” appear out of the darkness and capture most of her tormentors. Odaria is saved from the pyre—only to find herself facing another big problem—hordes of Norsemen have invaded the island.

coverIn the beginning of the story I deliberately kept the truth about Odaria’s “abilities” vague. Did she really conjure up the Viking warriors who unwittingly saved her from certain death? Or was it all a coincidence? I wanted readers to follow the story and wonder “does she have abilities or not?” Is Rothgar right when he suspects Odaria is using trickery and manipulating circumstances to scare people into thinking she’s a witch?

Over the course of the book, Odaria never denies being a witch. She warns Rothgar not to cross her or she’ll hex him. Rothgar laughs at her threat. He calls her “my little witch” and makes fun of her… For a while.

Later, Rothgar needs Odaria’s help and tells her to prove she has magic powers. Although reluctant, Odaria doesn’t disappoint. After a few highly charged scenes, readers and Rothgar learn the truth about Odaira’s abilities. I loved showing readers (and Rothgar) Odaria’s powers of clairvoyance, telekinesis, and psychometry. The scenes that included the “magic” elements were a lot of fun to write.

Rothgar and Odaria are my favorite historical romance couple. Odaria is strong-willed and doesn’t take any nonsense from Rothgar. Although she’s tough and feisty, Rothgar uncovers a vulnerable, soft side to her. And while Rothgar appears gruff and violent on the outside, underneath he’s really a gentle and sensitive man. Together, they make a pretty good team. There’s lots of push/pull between them and plenty of hot love scenes.

If you love historical romances, paranormal romances, or romances filled with drama, emotional rollercoasters, and danger, you’ll want to read The Viking’s Witch. I’m happy to say readers and reviewers fell in love with Rothgar and Odaria as much as I did.

Here is the summary and book links:

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The Viking’s Witch

Scotland, 803 A.D.

 About to be burned at the stake by her fellow villagers, Odaria does what any betrayed witch facing certain death would do. She calls down a curse. Within seconds, rampaging Norsemen raid the village, capturing everyone except her.

But her reprieve is short-lived, and Odaria lands in the clutches of the Norse leader Rothgar. Can she remain true to herself and fight her growing attraction to this domineering man, or will she fall under his influence and be used for his ambitions?

After Rothgar witnesses Odaria’s powers firsthand, he strikes a bargain with her. The raven-haired beauty will use her magical abilities to help him with his quest in exchange for safe passage off the isle. But can this cunning woman be trusted, or is she using him to exact vengeance on her village?

Together they must fight bloodthirsty villagers, battle a mutinous band of Norsemen, find a missing Norse ship, and learn to trust each other…before time runs out.


Order your copy here:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/%20ebook/dp/B07T15MHSW

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/4EQe0o

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/the-viking-s-witch

 

I hope you enjoyed this “Behind the Scenes” look at the making of this sensual historical romance. I welcome questions and comments from readers and other authors. Contact me via the form on my site or on social media.

Happy Reading,

Kelli A. Wilkins

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli A Wilkins

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20+ romance novels, 7 non-fiction books, and 5 horror ebooks. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror stories.

Her non-fiction tale, “The Dog That Wouldn’t Bark” recently appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Hilarious, Heroic, Human Dog anthology.

She also released two horror shorts, More Than I Bargained For and Silent Sentinel in 2021.

In January 2021, Kelli published Journaling Every Week: 52 Topics to Get You Writing. This fun and innovative guide to journaling is filled with hundreds of thought-provoking prompts designed to get you writing about your feelings and emotions.

Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.

Visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com for a full title list and to find all her social media links.

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“The Half-Drowned King: A Novel” by Linnea Hartsuyker


Half Drowned King cover

“The Half-Drowned King: A Novel

Genre: Historical Fiction/Norse & Viking

Release Date: August 1, 2017

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An exhilarating saga of the Vikings that conjures a brutal, superstitious, and thrilling ninth-century world and the birth of a kingdom—the debut installment in a historical literary trilogy that combines the bold imagination and sweeping narrative power of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Outlander.

Centuries ago, in a blood-soaked land ruled by legendary gods and warring men, a prophecy foretold of a high king who would come to reign over all of the north. . . .

Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the son and grandson of kings, grew up believing that he would one day take his dead father’s place as chief of his family’s lands. But, sailing home from a raiding trip to Ireland, the young warrior is betrayed and left for dead by men in the pay of his greedy stepfather, Olaf. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is determined to have revenge for his stepfather’s betrayal, claim his birthright and the woman he loves, and rescue his beloved sister Svanhild. Opportunity may lie with Harald of Vestfold, the strong young Norse warrior rumored to be the prophesied king. Ragnvald pledges his sword to King Harald, a choice that will hold enormous consequence in the years to come.

While Ragnvald’s duty is to fight—and even die—for his honor, Svanhild must make an advantageous marriage, though her adventurous spirit yearns to see the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has arranged a husband for her—a hard old man she neither loves nor desires. When the chance to escape Olaf’s cruelty comes at the hands of her brother’s arch rival, the shrewd young woman is forced to make a heartbreaking choice: family or freedom.

Set in a mystical and violent world defined by honor, loyalty, deceit, passion, and courage, The Half-Drowned King is an electrifying adventure that breathtakingly illuminates the Viking world and the birth of Scandinavia.


Linnea Hartsuyker can trace her ancestry back to Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway, and a major character in THE HALF-DROWNED KING, her first novel. She grew up in the middle of the woods outside Ithaca, New York, and studied Engineering at Cornell University. After a decade of working at internet startups, and writing in her spare time, she attended NYU and received an MFA in Creative Writing. She lives in New York City with her husband.

“Viking (A Real Man, 9)” by Jenika Snow #ReleaseBlitz

She’ll be his greatest conquest.


INGRID

I should have been afraid of him, the brutal man with the violence covering him and blood on his face. But he’d saved me from a fate worse than death. He was a Viking, a man who took what he wanted because he could, because no one dared to cross him, to go against him.

And he claimed me.

I was his now, and I didn’t want to fight that.


GUNNAR

From the moment I saw Ingrid I knew I wanted her as mine, as my wife, the future mother of my children. I’ll go to any lengths to keep her by my side, to make her see I’m not letting her go. I may give her the option to leave, to find her own way, but the truth is I would follow her to the ends of the earth to keep her close.

I’m a Viking, a savage, dangerous and violent. I don’t give up when I see something I want. I’ve been searching for Ingrid my whole life; I just didn’t realize it until I looked into her blue eyes.

She will be mine. No matter what.


Warning: Hope you like your men filthy, brutal, and willing to slay for the woman he’s claimed, because in this story you’re getting it all and then some. It’s dirty, totally unbelievable, and probably holds no real historical facts, but it’s fun and hot and hits the right spot. It is what it is, so hang on and enjoy the ride.

The sound of a battle cry wrenched through the air. The men around me took a fighting stance. I searched the village, seeing nothing but flames and smoke. The shadows crept around where the flames didn’t lick.

A grunt.

A cry of pain.

The scent of blood in the air.

The feeling of my enemies life force covering me.

It all hit me suddenly, and I fell forward, bracing my hands in the dirt, my breathing labored. I could hear fighting all around me, and I expected any second that final blow that would end my life.

But it never came. And when the silence stretched on, I lifted my head and looked around. The Vikings who’d destroyed my village were around me, their bodies bloody and broken. My heart thundered, and my throat was dry. I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t just the thick smoke that surrounded me like a cloak, but my fear of what was out there. Of who had killed my enemy.

And then I heard heavy footsteps coming closer, but the fire raged on, making it impossible to see anything. I tried to stand, but my legs didn’t want to work. I heard my heart thundering in my ears, felt the pulse at the base of my neck.

The man who came into view was not a savior, a hero that had saved the day. He might have killed the men who’d hurt me, but he was still a Viking. His short dark hair, the leather, fur, and blood from his enemies that he wore making it known he’d seen violence…he’d delivered it himself. But although he was the same as the ones who’d terrorized my village, he’d also killed them, stopped them before they could take from me what wasn’t freely offered.

And then I saw several more men step up behind him. It was clear they were with him, part of his clan, as their shields showed the same coloring, the same crest. Their focus was intense, their attention trained right on me. They conversed with each other in a dialect I wasn’t familiar with. When the Viking in front of me started speaking, this time to me, I could only shake my head. I didn’t know if they meant me harm, or if they were worse than the ones they’d killed.

“Please, I don’t understand. I don’t know what’s happening.” I lifted my dirt and blood covered hands, knowing they were shaking. These Vikings probably didn’t understand me either.

“You’re afraid of us.” The one I’d seen first spoke to me, his words clear and his accent thick. He knew my language.

“Yes,” I whispered. There wasn’t any point in lying. He could see how clear my fear was. It was written along my body, in telltale signs.

“You have nothing to fear from us.” He held his hand out to me, and although maybe I still should have been afraid, should have tried to outrun them, to escape, the truth was I did feel safe. I didn’t know if they were telling me the truth, but they’d killed the men who had destroyed my home, who had been about to do unspeakable things to me. They could have harmed me ten times over by now, but they didn’t, they hadn’t.

So I lifted my shaking hand and slipped it into his bigger one, his palm covered in blood, his strength clear.

He helped me to stand, and I had to crane my neck back to stare into his face. He was huge, his body wide, muscular. I could see his eyes, a bright blue that didn’t look soft. I could see the violence and danger reflected in them, staring right into my very being. I was aware of the destruction around us, of the bodies littering our feet. I could even feel the other two men watching us.

I knew I should say something, anything, but I was lost in this hazy feeling of confusion, slight fear and…warmth.

And then he leaned down slightly so we were eye to eye. He lifted his hand, cupped my cheek, and said in a voice so deep, so masculine I couldn’t help but shiver, “You’re mine, female.”

I didn’t know what my fate was, but at this point I had nothing else to lose.   

Jenika Snow is a USA Today Bestselling Author that lives in the northwest with her husband and their two daughters. Before she started writing full-time she worked as a nurse.

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