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Author Interview: Author Edale Lane about Viking Quest

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Get ready to learn more about the book Viking Quest in this discussion with sapphic author Edale Lane.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Edale Lane about Viking Quest, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Action & Adventure category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Viking Quest?

This is the first novel I ever completed that lived to see publication. It was born back in 1997 and received an overhaul before being published in 2021. I love Vikings, adventures, sword-fights, and fantasy stories, but at the time it seems they all featured men in the leading roles. I wanted to live out my own exciting adventure at the head of my ship, the woman in command. I tried approaching traditional publishers with my book back then and was only ignored. So I placed it carefully on a shelf and moved on to other things. After I started self-publishing sapphic romance and action books in 2019, I pulled it off that shelf, polished it up, and sent it to print with a few notable changes. I hadn’t been able to write it the way I wanted to the first time, but once I discovered there was an audience for sapphic literature, freedom redeemed both me and Viking Quest.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

While I patterned Lena after myself in many ways, I’d have to say my favorite character is Gunnar. Lena struggles with internal conflict, both over losing her husband and her blossoming feelings for Caitlin, but Gunnar’s inner battle is more profound. His entire worldview gets turned on its head and he must decide what’s truly right and where his loyalties lie. And I love Caitlin because she perseveres adversity with grace and optimism – and because she awakens Lena’s heart, of course.

What part of Viking Quest was the most fun to write?

The most fun part to write was when Lena and Gunnar meet the trolls. I loved creating the troll village and putting my spin on the mythical (?) beings. Likewise, the battle with the sea monster (Nessy?) OK, so why is it I don’t write fantasy again?

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Titles are not always easy for me, and this one isn’t terribly creative; however, it is clear. The story is about a quest undertaken by a group of Vikings.

How much research did you need to do for your book?

I wrote this shortly after earning my master’s degree in history and research was a fresh activity for me. I spent countless hours looking up details, places, events, cultural information, and dropped as many names of real historical characters as I could. Unlike my Tales from Norvegr series, Viking Quest occurs in the eleventh century when Scandinavians began to embrace Christianity. This changing climate sets up the conflict between Danes who wanted to keep the old ways and those who moved forward to embrace the new. Lots of research.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

No sequel for this one … well, maybe a reader-magnet novella about the further adventures of Lena and Caitlin someday.

What is your writing process like?

I’m a “plotser” or “planter”, a combination of the two approaches. First I sit down and plan – write character sketches, plot outlines, research notes, and see everything that’s going to happen in advance of writing the first chapter. However, as I proceed, things evolve, change, and take on a life of their own. Usually, the ending remains true to the original vision, but sometimes the characters add a few surprises of their own along the way.

Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

My office consists of a recliner chair and TV tray in my living room. Why, you may ask? Because it’s the biggest room in my house and I get to deduct a percentage of my rent, utilities, insurance, etc, from my self-employment income tax based on the percentage of square feet my workspace consists of. And it’s comfortable! Staying focused in the hub of household activity does present a challenge – the biggest distraction being one of the smallest dogs in the world! I love her, though.

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

I would love to spend a day with J.R.R. Tolkien because I fantasize about being a fantasy author. I’d love to just absorb some of his creativity in hopes it might help me conceive of my own imaginary kingdom. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy are among my favorite artistic creations of all time.

Is there a particular genre you would love to write but only under a pseudonym?

When I was young, I dreamed of writing characters who were like me – women who loved women. When I dared to dip my toe into those waters, I did so under the pseudonym of Edale Lane. Melodie Romeo had already published in the horror/thriller genre and I didn’t want people who read the uplifting, HEA Heart of Sherwood to accidentally stumble across something gruesome and dark. But I do aspire to write a fantasy epic one day.

Do you have a pet who helps/hinders your typing?

So there’s Piper – a one year old, chocolate and white Havanese who was too small for confirmation showing (and the breeders I got her from believed she was too small to ever have puppies.) That said, she has a tremendous personality! Size does not deter her from being the fastest creature on four legs in the universe. Her favorite things are playing with other dogs, treats, and me (possibly in that order).

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

My master’s thesis advisor told me the way to get noticed in academic writing was to either say something that hadn’t been said before, or present it in a fresh, new way. I applied that to my fiction writing with differing degrees of success. Tremendously successful was my idea to take the classic story of Robin Hood and turn it into a gender-bent, sapphic action-romance. But when I tried something that had never been done (an Italian Renaissance lesbian masked vigilante superhero) it didn’t get as much traction. So I returned to the “say it a different way” approach to success with a Sherlock Holmes-inspired lesbian Victorian detective. I’ve learned that while an author should never copy what’s already been written too closely, readers may never find it if we stray too far from the popular norm.

When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?

I put myself into the characters’ shoes, then think, how would I feel? What would I think, say, or do if this happened to me? This works for most mains because I tend to base them on aspects of myself. When it’s a diverse character, I have to put myself in their frame of mind. An example of this is the murderer in one of my mysteries. The woman’s son was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver. When the police had no leads, she hired a private detective and upon finding the culprit – a man who knew her son, who he looked up to, who didn’t call for help but got scared and fled the scene – she killed him in a public and symbolic way. I would have taken my findings to the police, but she felt completely justified in her actions and offered no apologies.

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

My favorite books to read are mysteries and fantasies. I suppose I like to see if I can solve the crime before the detective, or experience fantastic worlds where anything is possible. I love it when they include a bit of romance, and I do enjoy a good historical romance, too. Those are the types of books I’ve always liked most and maybe why I chose to write in those genres. While I haven’t attempted a straight-up fantasy novel yet, I throw a bit into my historical fiction to spice things up.

What books did you grow up reading?

I grew up reading classics. My mother was an English and literature teacher and loved to read, her favorite being Agatha Christy. I loved to read anything by Edgar Allan Poe, Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Jules Verne, and of course, Tolkien. I spent hours studying art books, the works of the great masters, and a beautiful collection of fantasy art. If it had twists and turns in the plot or took me to fantastic worlds, I ate it up. It must have influenced me to adopt similar genres as a writer. As a young teen, I read Love Story because everyone was going on and on about it, but I really didn’t like it. To me, it was just two people who were supposed to be in love fighting all the time and then one died. The end. Nope – I’ll never write a thing like it.

What book do you wish you had written?

Forget the bonus points and all the boos and derisive comments you want to make about the author. I wish I had written Harry Potter and the whole series. The writing may be Pulitzer Prize-winning perfection, but the concept was brilliant, the world enchanting, the characters lovable, and it’s more popular than the Beetles. Oh, to be the writer who changes the world with her little story!

Meet Edale Lane

Edale Lane is an author of sapphic mysteries, historical, and historical-fantasy books. She lives is beautiful Chilliwack, BC with her longtime partner, where she engages in agility practice with her sweet, tiny dog, Piper. Edale, who plays the French horn, also loves gardening, music, and visits with her grandkids.

Visit Edale’s Website

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