Monday, July 8, 2013

Blind Allegiance

Today's special guest is Violetta Rand. Violetta holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy and a master's degree in Environmental Management. Serving as an environmental scientist in the state of Alaska for over seven years, she enjoys the privilege of traveling to remote places few people have the opportunity to see.

Violetta has been "in love" with writing since childhood. Struck with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, at five, she wrote short stories illustrated by her best friend and sold them in her neighborhood. The only thing she loves more than writing is her wonderful relationship with her husband, Jeff. She enjoys outdoor activities, reading whatever she can get her hands on, music, and losing herself in the ancient worlds she enjoys bringing to life in the pages of her stories.


Have you always been interested in Vikings? 

I’ve always been interested in warrior cultures in general. However, when I compare my favorites (Scottish Highlanders, Samurais, Romans, and Vikings), Norsemen always win. As one of the most successful seafaring cultures in history, Vikings had access to ports all over the world. How exciting is that?  I’m hooked! These fearless men braved the high seas without modern technology and conquered and traded with civilizations unknown to most peoples. I also deeply appreciate their religious traditions and conflicts.

I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico—I can’t remember how many dragonships I imagined on the horizon.

Was there significant research required on Viking culture and traditions?

Yes. There are so many funny misconceptions out there about Vikings. For example, many sources claim the Norse had poor hygiene. In fact, they were likely one of the most hygienic cultures of their time. Bathhouses, saunas, and access to so many rivers suggests otherwise. Water was an integral part of their culture. Vikings traded with Muslims and Jews, cultures that required strict adherence to religious cleanliness. I can’t imagine filthy barbarians sharing space with sultans and princes in the ancient east.

My research included the pantheon of gods and goddesses, religious/cultural traditions, religious conflict, symbolism of nature/environment, civil and criminal laws, property laws, inheritance laws, courting and marriage, structure of the Norwegian nobility, dragonships, and so much more…

My favorite research tool for this project was Google Translate. I substituted modern Norwegian for Old Norse in Blind Allegiance.

Have you ever traveled to Norway?

No, but I live in Alaska which has similar geography, climate, and flora and fauna. Only five countries border the Arctic Ocean (United States, Russia, Norway, Canada, and Denmark by way of Greenland) and Alaska is the only state in the United States that does. I’ve visited and worked in regions along the Arctic coast and have always been deeply affected by its beauty and remoteness. I consider this the next best thing. My plan is to visit Norway soon.

What research was needed for the geographic locations used in the book?

I did a lot of internet surfing for century-specific maps. After I identified which maps were the best, I started looking more closely at regions and cities. Next, I researched climate and topography. Winter/northern landscapes (fjords, snow-capped mountains, icy rivers, and boreal forests) are my favorite. The main setting in Blind Allegiance is the Trondelag, which is located along the west coast of Norway.

Tell us more about the dynamics between Noelle, her brother, and Randvior. Are their characters based on anyone you know?

Noelle Sinclair and her brother, Brian, couldn’t be more diametrically opposed. Noelle is courageous and loyal to a fault (the book is named for her). Brian is cunning and looks out for number one, himself. He’d sacrifice his own mother if it kept him alive.

Randvior Sigurdsson is a man with a vision for the future. He realizes the political and religious landscape in Europe and Norway is changing. He’s fiercely devoted to his country and Odin. Once he witnesses Noelle’s bravery, he realizes there’s something incredibly special about her.

Brian bargains for his life once Randvior invades his home in northern England. The bargaining chip—his sister, Noelle. Randvior feels nothing but contempt for the coward. He believes he’s a better choice for Noelle’s future.

I think it’s common for most writers to add depth to their characters by borrowing the best and worst traits we see in ourselves and the people we know. Randvior shares several characteristics and physical traits with my husband, especially devotion and physical strength.

Brian is simply a man anyone would hate.

Will these characters be returning in a future book?

If I can convince my editor/publisher to accept a second book with Randvior and Noelle as the primary characters, I’d love to continue with their story.

Right now, Randvior and Noelle are mentioned in Book 2 of the Blind Series, Blind Mercy. This story focuses on their middle son, Tyr Sigurdsson.

What are you working on next?

Currently I’m half way through Book 3 of the series, Blind Vengeance.  I’m also writing a contemporary romance with strong environmental ties.


It’s a risk of a lifetime loving a man you’re supposed to hate…

Betrayed by a brother she hardly trusted before the bloodthirsty Viking, Jarl Randvior Sigurdsson, attacks her home, Noelle Sinclair is conveniently bartered as a means to save her cowardly sibling’s skin. Forced to leave her homeland and accompany the petulant Viking to the untamed wilderness of central Norway, Noelle is ever-aware of the burgeoning dangers around her—including her weakening resolve to resist Randvior.

Should Noelle surrender to his resplendent charms and seduction, or fight with every ounce of strength she possesses to get home?


She covered her face, blocking Randvior’s eyes from her own. She was only guessing—which never served anyone very well. She whirled, retreating full speed, heading directly for the cabin. She collided with a soldier. Noelle shoved him away in a huff, and tripped over her own feet as she stumbled through the door. She slammed it shut, barricading herself inside.

Confinement was the only escape at her disposal. But that only lasted a few minutes. Randvior tried to open the door. She braced her legs, hoped to keep the rest of the world locked out until they reached Norway. Randvior twisted the knob and pushed, but she stayed stubbornly locked in position. He banged on the planks and demanded she open the door. If she refused any longer, he’d probably just kick it down. She braced herself for what might happen when he came in and reluctantly stepped aside.
“What happened out there? Did you see a ghost?” he asked, entering the room.

“I would consider myself most fortunate if it was only an apparition taunting me.” She sat on the bed and wringed her hands nervously. “My conscience troubles me.” She raised her eyes to meet his.

He leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed. She couldn’t keep herself from sneaking admiring looks at his body. Only flesh and bone, she reminded herself, he’s only flesh and bone. His fine looks did little to relieve her; she was so helplessly riddled with guilt, she didn’t know what to do with herself any more. 
He closed the door and moved closer. “Remember the things I told you in England?”

“I remember too much.”

What she really wanted were assurances for her future. She wanted him to vow he would care for her life as loyally as he would his own kinswoman’s. If he wouldn’t make her his wife, he should choose someone else. She needed a husband to protect her interests now. Even an inexperienced adolescent or an old man would do. As long as he had a pulse and a respectable name, she’d accept it. This was the only bargaining chip she had left.


Violetta will award a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter.

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