Lands of Ice and Fire

by Mary Jo

Islands of Ice and Fire

Faroes 2

 Our North Atlantic cruise was so interesting that I'm breaking it into three parts.  (I could go on much longer, but I'll spare you. <G>)  I've already written about Norway, and now I'm writing about some of the other wonderful places we visited.  


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Tempted by the Runes

OvernightChristina here. In just a few days, my new Viking time travel story TEMPTED BY THE RUNES will be published and it’s based on the first Viking settlement of Iceland in the 860s/870s AD.

The Viking era is usually said to be roughly from 793 AD to 1066 AD, ie from the first Viking raid on the monastery at Lindisfarne to the Battle of Stamford Bridge when the last Viking king, Harald Hardraada, lost his bid for the English throne. When I first started writing this series, I knew I couldn’t cover all that time and I had to decide which parts to base my stories on. So I made a chart of all the events that were known to have happened from 750 AD onwards, and discovered that the years between 850 and 900 AD were jam-packed with possibilities. At that time, the Swedes were heading east and south down the Russian rivers, the Danes (and others) were raiding and conquering in Britain and Europe, the Norwegians established a kingdom in Ireland and started settling on Iceland, and there were internal power struggles in Scandinavia too. This gave me a rich historical tapestry from which to choose events that my characters could be part of.

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Mood Music

Christina here. Lots of authors seem to listen to music while they write in order to get in the right mood – sometimes the same song over and over again to inspire a particular scene they might be working on. Many of them have specific playlists for each book with one song per chapter, which they mention either on their blogs or at the start of their books so that readers can listen along with them. I can’t do that. I need silence in order to compose my thoughts and disappear into my own little world, and music would drag me out of it because when I listen to something I really like, I get lost in that instead.

ThorThat’s not to say I don’t find music inspiring. I do, but I like to listen to it before or after I write, not during the process. And I also love to watch music videos as some of them are mini stories in their own right and they can trigger plots or characters in my head. Today I thought I would share with you some of the songs, music and/or videos that I’ve found helpful while writing my Viking stories and the reasons why.

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Iceland – In the Footsteps of the Vikings (Part II)

Christina here. Today I continue the tale of my recent journey to Iceland. (You can find Part I here):-

Thingvellir waterfall 2A trip to Iceland would not be complete without a visit to two special places – Thingvellir (Þingvellir) and the Geysers. We drove south east to Thingvellir first, the place where the Vikings held their annual meetings (Alþingi) to dispense justice and decide on laws. It's a natural rock formation, a bit like a canyon with an amazing waterfall – Öxarárfoss – on one side. In a spectacular setting up on a hill overlooking a huge lake nearby, the waterfall came as a complete surprise. It’s hidden away among the rock formations that form two curtain walls, like fortifications on a castle. Views over the surrounding landscape are out of this world. There is a large grassy plateau below, where the Vikings taking part in the Alþingi would have raised their tents and camped out. When we were there, the place was incredibly windy and I nearly froze to death as the rocks acted like a wind tunnel. It was so cold!

Strokkur 3 and a halfThings improved at our next destination, the famous geyser Strokkur which wasn’t all that far away. The whole area smelled like rotten eggs because of the sulphur in the water, but it was fascinating to see the geyser erupt every five to seven minutes without warning. It was the only one at present, as another one nearby is dormant right now. All around were little smoking springs, as if the brown soil itself was smouldering. There were also pools of various sizes, beautiful and very inviting, but at 80-100 degrees extremely dangerous! You can’t even stick your hand in or your skin would burn off. Strokkur was not as big as I had imagined it, but still impressive and I’m so glad I got to see it.

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Iceland – In the Footsteps of the Vikings (Part I)

Christina here. When I planned out my current Viking time travel series a couple of years ago, it seemed like a great idea to have one of them set in Iceland. This massive island in the North Atlantic was more or less empty before the Vikings arrived to settle there around 860-870 AD. As my story took place in 875 AD, it made sense to have my characters be part of those first groups of settlers.

ReykjanesOf course, this would necessitate a research trip to Iceland – I’d wanted to visit for a long time so great excuse, right? Then Covid happened. For 18 months I waited to see if travelling would be possible again, and in the meantime, I had to work on my story using only information gleaned from books, travel blogs and other peoples’ remembrances. Definitely not ideal!

By early June this year, I had less than a month to finalise the edits for the book (TEMPTED BY THE RUNES) when at last the borders opened and travel was allowed! I jumped at the chance and with my husband quickly organised a trip which, despite hassle with paperwork and tests, turned out to be magical, so I thought I’d tell you about our journey. Here’s the first part:-

The main Icelandic airport, Keflavik, is about an hour’s drive away from the capital Reykjavik. First impressions of Iceland were of vast skies and a strange, flat and rather barren landscape with volcanic rock covered in moss, but with mountains in the middle. One of them, Fagradalshraun, recently erupted, but by the time we were there, all you could see was a cloud of smoke in the distance.

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