Joining us today is Mia Marlowe, Lord of Fire and Ice
Keira: How far has Brandr traveled to earn the designation as Far-Traveled?
Mia Marlowe: Brandr’s been walrus hunting in the Frostlands where the ice never melts and the sky blazes with eerie light. He’s journeyed to Iceland to secure trading rights for his people. In the opening of LORD OF FIRE AND ICE (http://miamarlowe.com/books/fire.php) , he’s just returning from a five year sojourn to the distant southern city of Miklagaard (Constantinople).
The Vikings followed two routes to Miklagaard. Some of them sailed along the coast of Europe and through the Strait of Gibraltar into Middle Earth’s great inland sea. This is the way Brandr and his friends traveled. In my first Viking romance MAIDENSONG, my hero and heroine sail down the rivers of Europe, braving the rapids and grueling portages to the Black Sea to reach the great city of the south.
Keira: There are never enough Viking romances. What is your favorite aspect of Viking romances?
MM: I’m fascinated with Nordic culture. Their art, especially the ‘gripping beast’ patterns, has a weirdly contemporary feel. And the way they dealt with their women was far more in line with modern norms that with the other peoples of their times. While the rest of Europe treated their women as chattel, Nordic women could own property, choose their own mates and divorce them if they wished, and older women especially were often consulted on weighty matters. As Brandr says, “For action, seek a man. For wisdom, a woman.”
Keira: Is Brandr's skill with calling fire mystical?
MM: Brandr was born with an affinity for the flames. He doesn’t know why because no one else in his family can call fire from thin air or direct its path with a mere thought. Part of what he was doing in Miklagaard was learning how to control his unusual gift by studying with a Middle-eastern sorcerer.
Keira: In the past when I've read Viking romance it is usually the heroine who is the slave, not the hero. How did Brandr get into the mess he's in now?
MM: Brandr stayed behind at a mead house while his friends returned to their longship. The heroine Katla’s brothers decided to drug his drink when they learned he was the son of Ulf. Because Ulf killed Katla’s husband, they figure she’ll jump at the chance to enslave Ulf’s son.
But there’s a catch. Her brothers will only give Brandr to her if she promises to marry one of the men they choose for her. Since they already have a man in mind who’s promised to split his much larger holding with them, Katla is as caught by the deal as Brandr.
Keira: Katla is cold, but she has cause, doesn't she?
MM: Katla comes off as cold and hard because she’s a woman forced into a man’s position. She’s the head of a household of over 30 souls, all of whom are dependent upon her for every bite of food in their mouths and every coin in their pockets. She figures she has to be tough lest bad bargains, encroaching warriors or the ever-returning enemy called winter will overcome her people.
But inside where no one can see, Katla is soft and warm. She yearns for “inn matki munr”—the mighty passion. It’s a love so deep, legend says the bonded couple can even speak to each other without voice, and send thoughts to their beloved over many miles. Katla didn’t ever achieve inn matki munr with her dead husband and fears she will never know such mighty passion.
Keira: How does she end up with a Viking in her bed? Is he as skilled as his legend proclaims? *wink*
MM: She invites him, of course. Even though she technically owns him, she doesn’t want Brandr to merely render her a service. The passion has to be mutual. And yes, Brandr is a skilled lover, but even he is blindsided by the difference in the experience when lovemaking is about more than pleasure. It’s a connection on a deeper level than just physical, a mingling of souls that knits two hearts together so irrevocably they can’t be sundered.
And as far as skill goes, Katla holds her own. *wink right back*
Keira: Do you feel there's any extra steps in writing a romance that involves slavery?
MM: When the topic of slavery comes up, we usually think of our country’s own sad past. However, slavery is an ugly truth throughout much of human history. In the ancient Roman world, one person in every three was a slave. In feudal times, serfs were slaves in all but name. They were chained to the land and the lord who owned it. Sad to say, human trafficking is still going on in some parts of the world today. It’s a hideous blight on mankind, a denial of what it is to be human.
However, I write historicals so I have to be true to the times. The Vikings did keep thralls, their word for slaves. However, in Nordic society, thralls could be freed at any time or even earn their freedom. Even after the iron collar was struck off, their place in society was still low. A freed thrall owed his former master loyalty and it took two generations for the stigma to be fully lifted. Since this means Brandr owes Katla even more loyalty than most husbands show their wives, I’m good with that.
If an author really digs into whatever time period she’s writing about, she’ll probably come across some type of slavery. I wonder if I’ll ever see a Regency romance where the debutant realizes the lovely little bonnet she just bought was paid for by the slave labor on her father’s Caribbean sugar plantation. And what would she do about that realization?
Keira: The coolest Viking fact you found in research is ___________.
MM: I really loved researching the myths of the gods of Asgard. It’s a fascinating, detailed collection of stories that rivals the Greco-Roman system and even has an “end of the world” scenario. There was reputedly a temple in Uppsala with three huge statues of the major gods—Odin, Thor and Frey. Frey, the god of increase, is always depicted with a gigantic erect male member. Kind of makes you wonder why they chose Thor to be part of The Avengers movie, huh?
Keira: Will you write another romance together?
MM: Yes! Connie Mason and I are working on a trio of Regency-set stories called The Royal Rakes series. The Royal Rakes is loosely based on the very real “Hymen Race Terrific.” After Princess Charlotte died in 1817, the Prince Regent’s unmarried brothers realized they have an opportunity to wed, bed, and breed in order to present George III with a legitimate grandchild who will one day wear the crown. But not everyone wanted the royal dukes to succeed. And what better way to stop them than to make sure a dedicated rake comes between them and their intendeds?
Look for Waking Up With a Rake in January 2013. For more info, please visit http://www.miaamarlowe.com . You can also find me on Facebook http://facebook.com/MiaMarloweFanPage and Twitter http://twitter.com/Mia_Marlowe . I look forward to connecting with YOU.
BY CONNIE MASON AND MIA MARLOWE – IN STORES JULY 2012
His Duty is to Fulfill Her Every Desire...
Brandr the Far–Traveled has seen the world and a good many of the beautiful women in it. His bed skills are the stuff of steamy legend, his sword sings death, and he can call up fire from thin air. No one ever thought he could be enslaved through trickery and forced to wear the iron collar of a thrall—least of all him.
Until All She Desires is Him...
Katla the Black isn't just called so for her dark, silky hair. His new mistress has a temper as fierce as a warrior's and a heart as icy as the frozen North. But inch by delicious inch, Brandr means to make her melt...
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Connie Mason is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels. She was named Storyteller of the Year in 1990 and received a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times in 1994. She currently lives in Florida. Mia Marlowe is a highly acclaimed new voice in romance whose debut novel released in Spring 2011 from Kensington. She lives in Boston, MA. Together, they are working on a new Regency romance series for Sourcebooks Casablanca, the first of which will be in stores in January 2013. For more information, please visit http://www.conniemason.com/, http://miamarlowe.com/ and follow Mia on Twitter @Mia_Marlowe.
GIVEAWAY: 1 print copy of Lord of Fire and Ice. Open to US and Canada only. Enter by leaving a comment and/or asking Mia a question! Last day to enter is July 20, 2012.