Thursday, October 16, 2014

Delving into the 7th century

Yesterday saw the release of my Victorian trio -To Marry a Matchmaker, Compromising Miss Milton and Breaking the Governess's Rules in the North American market. Cue banners and trumpets. I have waited a long time for this to happen.
Currently I am working on two projects while waiting to hear my editor's thoughts about Summer of Her Viking Warrior. The only really successful approach to keep the Crows of Doubt at bay is to write another book or several books. IN short to become excited about something else.

My first project is a historical fiction project set in the 7th century. It is on an epic scale and requires an epic amount of research.  I need to get things straight in my head. There is much which has been lost and will probably never be found. We are not talking 7 kingdoms but many kingdoms and the written historical record starts about the time I want to focus on. Fascinating but frustrating. Where precisely was the decisive battle of Degsastan which put an end to Dal Raidic ambitions in England for over 130 years... It will be interesting to see if I can bring it to life.

My second project is a more conventional M&B Viking set historical but this time in the Western Isles. I loved visiting Islay in September. Very little remains of their Viking heritage (apparently Colonsay is much better) but it is utterly fascinating.  The Vikings did not just raid, they came and stayed. And the land being the land, it grew into their very souls and the Vikings became Gallowglass -- foreign Gaels.  It is where the term Galloway comes from.
Somerled who wrestled the Isles from the King of Man (and Norwegian control) was  at least half Norse. It is thought with a Norse mother and a Celtic father (some dispute this saying he was fully Norse).
The full integration of the Western Isles into Scotland didn't really happen until after 1607. Some might it never has as the Western Isles maintain their own identity.
It is when you are there that you can a sense of the Sea Kingdom that once was.
But again it is not a very well researched time.  I think mostly people prefer to concentrate on the Celts or Gaels, forgetting that the Vikings did really shape Scotland.
And I have to keep remembering that Scots in the 9th century meant Irish, not where we think of it today.

And the kilt or short kilt was invented in 1707 by Thomas Rawlinson, an Englishman who had moved his factory up North to back take advantage of the fuel. However his workers were getting too hot and discarding their Great  kilts. or getting burnt. So the short kilt was a compromise. It proved so popular that it soon took off. The great kilt dates from the late medieval period. Apparently one battle was known as the battle of the shirts as it was too hot to fight in the Great kilt and so they were discarded.  I am afraid the mental image amused me.


Ani Greenwood said...

I've just read Saved by the Viking Warrior - which I found in our local library's digital collection. I've come online to find your other books, and I'm excited to hear you are lookiing at the times/places I hold most dear for your next two projects.

Looking forward,


Michelle Styles said...

Ani -- I am so pleased to hear that you enjoyed Saved!!!
The manuscript which is in my editor's inbox is set in Northumbria and helped fuel my interest in delving further back.
Taming His Viking Woman which comes out in Feb is set in Sweden and features a shield maiden. It was good fun to write.