A Guest Post
By Sandi Layne
How did you get your start in writing historical romance and why Vikings?
Being a writer was never on my radar, as a child. I wrote short stories for extra credit for school and I could create a terrific essay over night at need, but writing? No. I loved to read and lose myself in stories and that was all I wanted.
But then, while researching an entirely different line of work, I was struck by the notion that I could write a story I’d like to read. “I’ve read hundreds of romances” was literally what I thought. “Surely I could write one!”
Ah, what hubris. Really, that’s what it was.
I had read and enjoyed many Regency Romances over the years and when I thought of writing, and had ideas about stories and plot lines and so on, most of them were of the Regency Romance variety. Since this was before I had access to the internet, I did research with my own books and encyclopedias, as well as a trip to the local library. I kept copious notes in three-ring binders and, back in those days, I printed out and re-read each page as I wrote it.
The first book I wrote originally came out to about 100,000 words. I wrote it in thirty nearly sleepless days and I have kept that badly-written draft to remind myself that I have improved mightily since then. See, I had no idea about how to create a story; I just tried to make mine sound close to the ones I read and liked.
I’ve learned a great deal in the intervening years, thanks to many awesome authors I have encountered along the way. I write both contemporary inspirational romance as well as historical romance, and enjoy them both.
Well, one of the ideas I had for an historical romance was not Regency. It was inspired by Thomas Cahill’s book, How the Irish Saved Civilization. I thought I could have a romance hero who was also a learned scribe who copied codices, like the monks used to do. I had an idea for a heroine, too, and I was all kinds of tickled about the characters and the time (6th Century, when I was initially dreaming this up) and so on.
But I forgot one huge point. I needed something that would bring action to the plot. Some driving force. When I first began writing, just a story about a guy and a gal was all I was trying to create, but that wasn’t enough for this time, in my estimation.
I needed drama. Action. And after some reading, I concluded I needed Vikings. Then, it became a huge party for me, of sorts. I wanted to get as close to my earlier timeline as I could, but I wound up looking almost three hundred years ahead of it. Still, I found reference to a fellow named Tuirgeis who was a Viking who claimed the High Kingship of Ireland and everything clicked for me.
And the rest is history. Well, historical fiction.