It’s a real pleasure today to welcome author Sarah Dahl as my guest here on Being Anne. Sarah joined me with a lovely interview back in December last year (you can read it again here), and she’s back today to tell us her exciting news – her Tales of Freya are published tomorrow (14th December) as a complete collection, in e-book and paperback, available via Amazon in the UK and US. Although Sarah’s writing might be just a little different from my usual reads – you won’t find many sensual short stories among my reviews – I’m so delighted for her!
In this collection of adult bedtime stories, Sarah Dahl pulls back the curtain of history to depict the erotic lives of Viking men and women. Amid the stark landscapes of fjords, forests and snowcapped mountain peaks, her characters search for love and passion. Dahl authentically illuminates the sensual side of a world of battle and plunder in an alluring collection perfect for every lover of gritty Viking romance.
A warrior recovering by a river is drawn into an unforeseen skirmish with a beautiful shield maiden. An enslaved Christian monk is entranced by his captors’ pagan allure. A dissatisfied housewife finds that her home holds an unexpected and liberating secret. An injured farmer is captivated by the magic of his irresistible healer …
In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives – all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives.
Previous reviews of Sarah’s stories have called them “The Last Kingdom meets 50 Shades of Grey” and “truly Norse, gritty and authentic”. These are the stories in the collection:
1. “The Current – A Battle of Seduction” (introducing Aldaith and Nyssa)
2. “The Awakening – Embrace beyond Passion”
3. “Monk – Captured by Temptation”
4. “Bonds – Under the Armour” (revisiting Aldaith and Nyssa)
5. “Healer – The Gift of Dreams”
6. “Tower – Unchained by Love”
7. “Battles – Sacrifices for Love” (wraps up Aldaith and Nyssa’s moving and unconventional story)
All her books and her Book Alert newsletter can be found via her website.
Let me hand you over to Sarah, to tell us more about how to write sexy Vikings – without being sweet!
My Tales of Freya are gritty romance outside the usual romance rules. If you try to be as authentic as me with the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years – it’s near impossible to write sweet stories. Early medieval times were incredibly hard and lives short. Death was always around the corner, especially for my warrior protagonists, and so my characters fight for love and passion in the time they’re given. But then: I also have to think like today’s reader, who is not as accustomed to the harshness of the era. So I try to give readers a wonderful journey with my Viking men and women, and a happy ending, but only after various internal and external battles.
So on the one hand I use the authentic circumstances of the time, but on the other hand contrast those with deep and tender stories of passion and love. Some stories turned out to have quite brutal parts (“Tower”, “Battles”), some are more tender and mystical (“Awakening”, “Healer”).
For every “Tale” in this collection I use the frame of longish short stories (each around the 50 pages) to get to the core of my characters and their desires fast. There’s fights, there’s pain, there’s longing, anticipation, and crackling tension, sometimes blood and the occasional casualty – until the climax always has to be this mind-soul-body lovemaking which changes people’s lives forever.
The Tales of Freya take readers on an early medieval rollercoaster ride of adventure, sensuality and emotions. My characters have it tough … to then each get their HEA.
Maybe it’s because I’m not a sweet girl myself. I’m fascinated by harsh circumstances and straightforward people as you find them in the North. And it is especially this contrast I love about writing in the Viking age: It’s all a bit rougher, grittier. I’m fascinated by the not-so-sweet weather, the not-so-sweet lines in faces, landscapes and mindsets. I don’t do the damsel in distress-thingie; the elements I use in my stories have more balanced dynamics. My women are tough, they sometimes overpower the men in unexpected ways.
My favourite example is Nyssa, the fierce shield maiden, who first seduces, then in two subsequent stories comes to deeply love her warrior Aldaith. Suddenly the couple had three stories in this collection: “Current”, “Bonds”, and “Battles”. These two characters stand out; they deserved sequels (whereas the other four stories in the “Tales” are independent and with different couples). In each the stakes raise and what started out as a heated, sensual duel turns into a literal fight for survival and love.
Every one of the seven stories explores a theme, and I hint at those in the subtitles. They can be read out of sequence and according to which topic excites you first. Would you like to follow a not-so-innocent Christian monk into the chamber of his mistress? Or watch what happens when two warriors battle it out in sensual duels? Or would you like a piece of the spiritual, and see a healing unfold that takes an unexpected, yet wonderfully fulfilling turn?
The “Tales of Freya” show Viking characters from their strong and passionate, yet vulnerable sides. I hope in the end you’ll agree that their journeys were fascinating and satisfying to follow – and you learned a bit about what it meant to follow your dreams in tough times.
Thank you Sarah – and wishing you every success with the collection!
About the author
Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction (novels and short stories) primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts.