Christina here. Next week sees the publication of the fifth book in my Vikings Runes series, PROMISES OF THE RUNES, and today I thought I would interview the fictional hero, Ivar Thoresson, in order to introduce him to readers. He has quite an interesting story to tell! As long as you believe in magic, that is …
He arrives to the interview dressed in black jeans and biker boots, but with a Viking tunic instead of a t-shirt. It’s pale blue and trimmed with beautiful handwoven bands and he tells me a special someone made it for him. All manner of things hang off his leather belt – a pouch, a knife and what looks like a real battle axe. Intimidating if I didn’t know that he’s only brought it to show me. His dark blond hair is long, but pulled back into a manbun, and he has a closely cropped beard. Basically, he has the look of a very modern Viking.
Christina: Ivar, thank you for joining us today. I know you’re a busy man, basically living a double life. Can you tell us a bit about how it all started?
Ivar: Yes, I’m an archaeologist, and I used to work at the Historical Museum in Stockholm, which is sort of where it began. Before I go any further, I have to tell you – in strictest confidence – that I and my foster-family are rather unusual in that we have been granted privileges by the Norse gods that few others have been afforded.
Christina: The Norse gods? You believe in them?
Ivar: Oh, absolutely! I mean, how else do you explain the magic? OK, I need to start by saying that magic exists. Seriously, I should know! Several members of my extended family have been lucky enough to time travel, including me, and the only way that is possible is through the use of magical items. And who could create such objects, if not the Norse gods?
Christina: I suppose that makes sense. If you believe in that sort of thing.
Ivar: Well, I can safely say that when you are suddenly hurtled a thousand years back in time, you have no choice but to believe! And you either deal with it or perish.
Christina: And this happened to you, quite by accident?
Ivar: [looking slightly shifty]: Er, not exactly … You see, I was jealous of my sister Linnea and her friend Sara, who had both time-travelled back to the Viking age. I mean, come on! What self-respecting archaeologist wouldn’t want to go as well? I knew that they had done it by way of a magical object with a very special runic inscription on it – “Með blōð skaltu ferðast” (which means “with blood you shall travel”) – so I looked for a similar thing in the museum’s archives. It took me ages, but I found one. A little pair of shears that had belonged to a Viking seeress. I, um, kind of borrowed them.
Christina [raises eyebrows]: Borrowed, eh?
Ivar [his expression turns sheepish]: OK, fine, I stole them. But I had every intention of putting them back eventually, I swear!
Christina: Right. So then what happened?
Ivar: There was another reason why I wanted to go back to the Viking age as well. I’m an orphan and my dad died when I was fourteen. He was obsessed with our forefathers and in particular, he claimed that we were descended from a Viking named Thorald. Dad owned a sword that had been passed down through the generations and it was inscribed with Thorald’s name, so it was possible this tale was accurate. Of course, having no other blood relatives, I was keen to meet Thorald for myself. And when Linnea happened to mention that one of her neighbours in the Viking world was called Thorald, I wondered if it could be the same man. Surely it couldn’t be coincidence?
Christina: You wanted to meet him.
Ivar: Of course I did! I was very curious, and with the help of the shears I figured I could make it happen. And I did. I travelled through time, to the ninth century, and met Thorald. It was uncanny, I have to say, because we actually look alike! We could be brothers, and lots of people think we are.
Christina: Hang on, you’re talking in the present tense now. Is he here with you, in the 21st century?
Ivar: No, no, he’s still living in the Viking age. But because I have the shears [Ivar coughs and clears his throat] – yes, I know, I should have given them back, but I haven’t got round to it yet – anyway, I can go and see Thorald whenever I want. We meet up as often as we can, and we really are brothers now. Brothers-in-arms and best friends. It’s amazing!
Christina: I can see that it would be very satisfying, finding a long lost relative like that. A bit weird to have to go a thousand years back in time though.
Ivar: Yes, but it is what it is. [shrugs]
Christina: That wasn’t all you found in the past though, right? I hear you tried to rescue a damsel in distress.
Christina: Another stolen item?
Ivar: Ahem, borrowed. Temporarily. But yes, when I held it, I saw this image of a beautiful Viking woman being taken captive. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it was as if she was begging me for help. When I eventually came across her at the kaupang – er, market place – in Skiringssal, I just had to help her, you know? It was the right thing to do.
Christina: Sure. And the fact that she’s rather pretty had nothing to do with it, of course.
Ivar: [turns slightly pink]: Well, maybe? Fine, I admit that there was chemistry between us right from the start. But I hadn’t gone back in time in order to fall in love. I only wanted to experience life in the Viking age and to get to know Thorald, both of which I did. Meeting Ellisif was an unexpected bonus, but it wasn’t like we could date or anything. That’s not how these things worked back then. It made everything a bit complicated, to say the least.
Ivar: You could say that – I actually ended up having to take part in a Viking sea battle! Not quite what I’d envisaged when I decided to take a little trip back in time. But there you go …
Christina: Well, thank you, Ivar. I’ve taken up more than enough of your time so if anyone wants to know more about what happened to you – and Ellisif – they’ll have to read your story in PROMISES OF THE RUNES. Thanks again for chatting to me today!
Ivar: No problem, my pleasure.
So there you have it – the start of Ivar’s story. If you’d like to find out more, PROMISES OF THE RUNES is published next week on 13th April.
Are there any other heroes from books you’ve read that you would like to interview if you had the chance? Please leave a comment below for a chance to win this giveaway – a signed copy of the book and some beautiful note cards from the Oseberg Ship museum in Norway.