The interview text:
Lily Byrne, Welcome to Spotlight, let us thank you for joining, we all get excited when our books come out, and we all have our own reasons, some like to see their family proud, some want to see their characters come to life, for instance, you might have your own particular reasons please?
Janus Gangi Author Hi Lily!!!
Lily Byrne Hello everyone!
Well I do like to see my characters come to life, that is true. My family are proud, especially my 6 year old daughter, although I told her she isn’t allowed read my books til she’s older, haha! I think for me its also the fact that I’ve achieved something in my life. I don’t feel I have otherwise, and this is definitely an achievement!
Pauline Edwards Will you be writing anything non-Viking related in the near future?
Lily Byrne Yes, that is a definite possibility Pauline My daughter wants us to write some children’s books together, that would be nice. I’m sure I’ll get sick of Vikings soon enough and turn to another era of time.
Shah Fazli Thank you so much, can you tell us why do you write in the genre you write, some authors write about their life story because they are good at that, how is it with you?
Lily Byrne Shah, I suppose I like certain periods of history. Victorian, Medieval, 1920s. I have written some Victorian stories, I’m sure I’ll move on to other eras. And I love writing about relationships, so I’ll always be focussing on people and their relationships with others.
Pauline Edwards I think you would make a great writer of children’s stories
Lily Byrne Thank you Pauline. I find that with a child, I’m constantly having to make up stories at bedtime or any time really, its certainly helping my story inventing powers
Sydney’s Song Hello Lily, where did you get the idea from? [One of my WIS – Work In Suspension – is a real-life modern Reykjavik socio fiction. And my Ragnar is a male 🙂 ]
Lily Byrne Hello Sydney’s Song. I must admit, my two writer friends Ryan Spier and Reggie Jables Jones remind me of Vikings so they inspired me to look into the Viking era, and when I started the research, it was so fascinating I couldn’t stop!
Lily Byrne My Ragnar is a male too, its just that the cover of the book was chosen by my publisher who liked the idea of a female on the cover.
Shah Fazli How do we connect with your main character, what is he very good at that makes us the readers love him?
Lily Byrne Ragnar is very honourable and (nearly always) does the right thing. Probably not the public’s general opinion of a Viking! But then again, he is a Dane settled in Britain, not a raider. He is also a bit of an outcast as his mother was a slave and his father Danish, so has always felt a bit left out by the full blood Danes. He can also see their failings clearly as he’s on the outside, and some of their more ridiculous or brutal ways seem as wrong to him as they do to us. He’s also a family man and not really into raping and murdering. He’s tough and will fight to the death but underneath he loves his family and will protect them with everything he has.
Shah Fazli And what are the things Ragnar does in this book different from book one, does he fall in love with another woman, for instance, does he become more ferocious, what?
Lily Byrne Oh do you want me to give the story away?!? He finds himself and his family and friends under terrible threat from an outside force. Its not personal this time- or is it- but something far worse than in book 1, far more scary. He has to band together with people he never thought he would have to, in order to defend his people.
Shah Fazli Lily, fascinating, tell us about the book a little more please, anything you want?
Lily Byrne I don’t write the Ragnar books solely focused on Ragnar, its about all of the group, looking at all the things they go through in the course of the stories. Ragnar is often an onlooker to other people’s situations.
Lily Byrne Well if you look into the Viking era- or I suppose any era of British history- it really is fascinating. How did they live? How did they make clothes, eat, get married, have babies? All the rituals and beliefs they had, the physical processes of eating, farming, clothes making etc. were so much harder and more different than in the 21st century when everything is so easy. I got totally caught up in the Viking way of life, I could research constantly. My favourite website is The Viking Answer Lady, that is really interesting and detailed. http://vikinganswerlady.com/
Shah Fazli Can you describe one or two scenes of the book for us, where it happens, and what happens there please?
Lily Byrne Do you mean where its situated? Its in the area of East Anglia, which was where the Anglians lived (not the Saxons). This part of the country was under the Danelaw while the rest was under Saxon rule, so it was an uneasy peace, with the English and Danes living nervously next to each other
Lily Byrne In the Ragnar books, there are two villages, one English and one Danish, situated next to each other and the villagers treat each other with suspicion. I’m trying to think of a particular scene without giving away the story. I suppose in one scene, Ragnar has to go into the city, which is Gippeswick (or Ipswich) and meets an old enemy by chance. They end up in a fight, and Ragnar is certain the old enemy is the one causing the attacks at home in the village.
Shah Fazli What is Ragnar fighting for, you might have said it before, please repeat it for us?
Lily Byrne The English village is being attacked and the villagers turn to the Danes for help, then in the process of the fight, Ragnar is abducted and then the fight for his life begins.
Shah Fazli Can you name a few more characters in the book, and maybe a little bit of their role in your book please?
Lily Byrne Ragnar’s wife is Aelfwyn, an Englishwoman he married even though the English and the Danes didn’t like it. His best friend is Bjarni, another soldier, who is married to Aelfwyn’s sister Saehild, who is a very wild and headstrong girl. Ragnar’s worst enemy is Kjartan, who nearly got him exiled in book 1, but in the end was exiled himself because of Ragnar. Is Kjartan back for revenge…??? dun dun DUN!
Shah Fazli I suppose Ragnar is the favourite character for you and for your readers, who else do you think would attract your readers’ attention and why, is it Kjartan?
Lily Byrne Well I must admit, I LOVE Kjartan, cos he’s so naughty! He was meant to be evil but I got so fond of him that I made him a bit nicer. Although he still makes the bitchy sarcastic comments that make me laugh! Ragnar is the heroic one, readers have told me they like him because he’s tough but soppy on the inside. Then there is Bjarni, he’s kind of a dumb blond. He isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but he means well and is very loyal and reliable. Readers have told me they like him too. And another reader paid me a huge compliment and said she liked Aelfwyn best cos she reminded her of herself!
Shah Fazli You must have given your characters some feelings, how is it for Ragnar for instance, what are some of his feelings, sadness, happiness, or love, please?
Lily Byrne Hm… Ragnar tends to keep it to himself if he feels sad or happy. He’s a bit of a stoic. Kjartan, however, tends to kill people if he’s unhappy, or go off drinking and whoring for any reason. Aelfwyn tends to shout when she’s angry and cry when she’s happy. Is that what you mean?
Shah Fazli That is fine, what do we read a lot in your book, you definitely know what you have focused on more in writing the book?
Lily Byrne Do you mean what do I focus on in this book?
Shah Fazli Yes, please?
Lily Byrne Well I suppose more relationships, as always. Human relationships have been the same since time began, just in different settings. I write character driven stories, not plot driven ones. I didn’t put many battles in book 1 but I have in book 2 because you can’t really have a Viking story without fighting. I suppose that’s why I set it in 10th century England after the Danes had settled, rather than when they were attacking England.
Shah Fazli Can you read from your book for us please?
Lily Byrne This is the beginning of it:
Almost one year after ‘Ragnar the Murderer’, the Danes still live uneasily in Britain, alongside the English.
One shall come,
From auld Britaine.
Unite with her,
To feel the gain.
The ancient order will overturn,
Britaine will pay its due.
The dishonour will be avenged,
Those disgraced will start anew.
The wind roared through the dark wood. Branches knocked against each other and bare twigs trembled, hissing together, tormented by the gusts. At midnight the sky was empty of a moon; only the tiny stars burned in the blackness to show wanderers the way.
Hidden alone amongst the trees, the house showed no light from any window. The craftsman’s broken sign creaked against its frame, and the wind screeched past harshly, trying to knock it to the ground.
A candle flared, lighting the window. A shriek speared the cold air, then a yell of pain and gurgling, choking while another screamed on and on, until an abrupt cry halted the noise.
Murmured voices became louder.
“Quiet or we’ll kill you!” snapped a clear voice. But there was no one around to hear. No one to intervene and ask what was happening, or prevent it.
Dark figures slipped out of the formerly peaceful home, dragging another with them who slumped hopelessly in their arms.
Shah Fazli What is your message to your readers, or to our audience, please?
Lily Byrne I suppose that firstly, people are people, whatever the time they live in and we can learn from their actions. Secondly, concerning Ragnar and the Slave Girls, that you have to stand up and choose the good path in life, you can’t just be drawn into bad ways. You have to fight to do the right thing. There, I just made that up on the spot!
Shah Fazli What would be your particular writing tips please?
Lily Byrne Hm… Choose your writing name and stick with it, don’t use different pen names as its easier to keep track of one. Don’t write what you think will sell, just write from the heart. I recommend these books too: Make a Scene Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time by Jordan Rosenfeld; The Joy of Writing Sex by Elizabeth Benedict and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King
Shah Fazli It was a joy and real pleasure, thank you so much.
Shah Fazli To buy Ragnar & the Slave Girls by Lily Byrne visit:http://shahsightshop.blogspot.de/2012/09/ragnar-slave-girls-lily-byrne.html
Lily Byrne Thank you Shah! I really enjoyed it too, much more than I thought! I won’t feel so nervous next time 🙂
Tee Gee Hi Lily and Shah…A very informative interview and the best of luck with sales Lily. x
Lily Byrne Thank you Tee!
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