I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest historical romance. The Viking’s Witch is set in Celtic Scotland and blends a sensual love story with adventure and paranormal elements.
In this blog, I’ll discuss how the book came about, the research involved, and the violence that takes place in the story. (Yes, even though it’s a romance, everything’s not all hearts and flowers.) In Part Two, I’ll talk about creating the characters, developing Odaria’s magic “witch” powers, and more.
The Viking’s Witch is a traditional historical romance with paranormal elements set in Scotland in 803 A.D. The main character, Odaria, is what they called a witch back then—nowadays we’d call her a psychic and a healer. Here’s the plot summary:
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.
Interviewers and readers have asked what my inspiration was when I was writing the book, and are curious about how much research I had to do to create the unique characters and detailed setting.
Like many of my books, the idea for the story came to me out of the blue. One day, the entire opening sequences popped into my head and I knew I had to start writing. At the time, I had the basic plot (Viking warrior falls in love with Celtic witch), but I wasn’t sure about most of the details, like the character names, their backstories, and the subplot. All of that came later, along with the secondary characters, Brennan and Nordskog. (I’ll talk more about them in Part Two of this blog.)
Scotland is a beautiful place and I’ve always wanted to set a book there. (I still may write another historical set in the Highlands.) Having the story take place on the remote Orkney Islands added a sense of urgency and tension to the plot.
In a sense, Rothgar and Odaria are “trapped” on the island and are forced to deal with a pack of angry villagers and other Norsemen. The action is condensed into a few days on a very small island, so there’s really nowhere for the characters to go. They’re forced to work together in order to get off the island—and survive.
Before I wrote a word, I had to do a lot of research on where to set the story. I knew the book would take place in Scotland where the Vikings traveled in their early years of exploration, but I didn’t want it to be a populated location. Once I decided on the Orkneys, I had to pick which island to set the story. (There are 70 different islands, but only 20 are inhabited.)
I also had to research what life was like in that time period for Odaria and Rothgar. (What kind of clothes did they wear? What food did they eat? How did Norsemen travel so far? What were their ships like?) Odaria and Rothgar come from different backgrounds and technically would have been speaking different languages, so I had to blend their two cultures together in a way that flowed with the book.
After I got a feel for what everyday life was like for each of them, I weaved the details into the story. For example, Rothgar’s Norse background intrigues Odaria, and she is curious about their clothes, customs, food, how they travel, etc. Having Rothgar show her how he lives was a good way to introduce readers into the culture.
And of course, if you were living back in 803 with bands of invading Norsemen and crazy villagers, you could expect some measure of violence. Readers might think that there’s no place for any violence in a romance, but I think that type of realism (when kept in check) enhances the story.
In 803, life was completely different from how we live now—especially on a remote island. People got hurt, took sick, and died. The Viking’s Witch features a violent man (Brennan) and a group of Norsemen with terrible reputations, so including some violence in the story is necessary to move the plot along—while also helping the reader get deeper into the minds and lives of the characters.
I didn’t cringe when I wrote the “gritty” scenes; I was happy to include them. I like history and it drives me crazy when people in 1500, 1791, or 1870 are perfectly clean and neat, have perfect teeth, and look like they stepped out of a beauty salon. In The Viking’s Witch I included enough details to bring the story alive, yet showed how some degree of conflict was necessary for Rothgar’s and Odaria’s survival.
I hope you enjoyed Part One of this “Inside Look” at The Viking’s Witch. Next time, I’ll delve more into the characters and discuss Odaria’s magic.
Here’s a mini-excerpt from The Viking’s Witch:
Rothgar inched closer to her. She tried to move away, but she had nowhere to go. Her back was pressed against the door. Rothgar grinned and cupped her chin in his wide hand. What was he doing? His rough beard grazed her cheek as his lips lightly brushed against hers.
Her entire body tingled, and a wave of dizziness washed over her. The room spun and seemed to grow dim. As everything faded, she had a clear vision of wrapping her arms around Rothgar’s neck and eagerly pulling him close for a kiss. Dizzy, she pitched forward. Rothgar caught her and clutched her to his chest.
“Shh,” he soothed, running his hand through her loose hair. “I will not harm you, Odaria.”
She relaxed against his broad chest, letting him support her weight. His touch was calming, and she felt safe here, leaning against Rothgar as she would rest against a thick tree. She inhaled deep. Rothgar didn’t stink of rancid sweat like the other men. He smelled clean and salty, like the sea. The scent comforted her. She could almost fall asleep where she stood.
After a few moments, her dizzy spell passed, and she gazed at him. “You are not like the others. You are different, Rothgar.”
He smiled. “Ja, in some ways. But fear not, Odaria. I will not share you with the others. I wish to have you all to myself.” Rothgar chuckled and winked at her.
Order The Viking’s Witch here:
Link to all other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/4EQe0o
Read more about my romances on my new site: www.kelliwilkins.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, 5 non-fiction books, and 2 online writing courses. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.
Her latest historical romance, The Viking’s Witch, was released in June 2019. This full-length novel takes place in Celtic Scotland and blends a sensual romance with paranormal elements.
In March 2019, Kelli published Dangerous Indenture, a historical mystery romance set in Colonial Pennsylvania. She released the second half of her flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes, in early 2019. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence.
Kelli released her latest Teachable mini-course, Fiction Basics: Finding Ideas in February 2019. She authored Fiction Writing for Beginners through Teachable in 2018. These courses are perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.
If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her latest novella, Nightmare in the North.
Not just an author, Kelli is also an amateur photographer. Visit her pages on Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/kelli+wilkins and iStock https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/kelliwilkins to view her photos.