Monday, August 22, 2011

Cursed Viking Shapeshifters

 Today we are talking to Lisa Hendrix about her third book in the Immortal Brotherhood series, Immortal Champion.  With cursed Vikings who shapeshift, a well-researched history and mythos, and love that can last forever how could you not love the premise of this series?  All three of her books in this series have garnered the coveted Top Pick from Romantic Times book reviewers. The two review quotes below are reflective of the craftsmanship reviewers have recognized in her latest book.

Romantic Times Top Pick! Kathe Robin said [readers] "will be enthralled by Hendrix’s masterful storytelling and talent for seamlessly blending magic, myth and romance."

Romance Reviews, Lenore said "IMMORTAL CHAMPION is a glorious book that begs to be read. From the eye-catching cover art to the depths of the pages, readers will be enthralled by Lisa Hendrix's craftsmanship."

Please welcome Lisa Hendrix to Behind the Book.  Pull up chair and get to know more about Lisa, her series, how each character matches perfectly with his animal self, and more specifically learn about this wonderful third book in the series, Immortal Champion.

These three words--medieval, paranormal, and romance--aren't often seen together, but it's sooooo cool. What made you chose the Middle Ages as the setting for your Immortal Brotherhood series?

First, I love medieval romance. My introduction to historical romance was Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove, and even before that I loved the whole Robin Hood, knights and ladies, storm-the-castle thing, so that’s where my heart lies. And then there’s the fact that my guys are Viking warriors. Since the Vikings started raiding England heavily during the mid-800s, that was when my guys were cursed. All the stories would have to take place in the centuries following.

And really, can you think of a better setting for a paranormal story? Gloomy castles, windswept moors, the Black Death, alchemists...

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of their stories. Is there anything in this story like that? If so, what?

Well, Gunnar is a bit like my husband in that he’s an ordinary man, just trying to get by and live his life with honor. (Perhaps that’s why I love Gunnar so much. Hmmm.) I’ve also loosely modeled a few minor characters on folks I’ve known over the years, and used real incidents for bits of action in my various books.

Additionally, I have a degree in biology, and that (and a lot of research) informs the stories in this series. The animal each man becomes reflects the human personality of each man. You can see the raven in Ari’s love of bright objects and talkativeness, the bull in Gunnar’s way of stubbornly plodding ahead no matter what, the wolf in Jafri’s sullen wariness, the eagle in Ivar’s loyalty to his mate, and so on.

To date you've published 3 books in this series, and it looks like book 4 is due next year. How many more can your readers expect in this world? Will the timeline of later books extend beyond the middle ages?

Though the first three of the Immortal Brotherhood books are set in medieval times (1096, 1290, and 1405-15), the entire series will span approximately a thousand years, with the next one set in Elizabethan times (1583), and the others working their way forward in time up to the present. After all, if a group of men are immortal, you wouldn’t expect them all to find their true loves in the same three-week period one summer.

But I would like to clear up something. “This world” is the real world of England. I make everything as historically accurate as I can, except for the warriors themselves and the magic of the curse. They are simply men, forced by the curse to try to make their way in a very un-magical world where (at least for the first books) most good men and women fear the very idea of magic. That’s part of the fun of this series to me. What do you do if you turn into a bear every day at sunrise, or a dog every night? How to you create any semblance of a normal life when you’re hunted as a beast for half of each day and considered a demon during the rest? How on earth can you find companionship, much less real love, when they’re burning ‘witches’ all around you?

As for numbers: I’m planning nine books, one for each of the men. I’ve introduced most of the crew in the first three books, and readers will meet the last two warriors, Rorik and Ketil (aka Kjell), in next year’s book, Immortal Defender, when the pair of them interrupt their wenching to ride to Torvald’s aid. They are, to say the least, the worst scalawags of the bunch. 

If someone was just starting the series, would you recommend they start with Book 1? Does it matter which book they read first?

 Immortal Warrior (Book 1) does have the “creation myth” for the whole series, plus it introduces Brand, the captain, and Ari, his friend and skald, who are the crucial characters for the series. But each book has a Prologue that consists of a section of Ari’s written chronicle or saga, which ties the stories together and lets the reader catch up on the story without missing a beat. I work hard to make each book stand alone, so you really can start anywhere, and then go back to pick up the others. Gunnar, from Immortal Champion, really is my favorite, though, (and my editor’s and agent’s, for that matter), and I think his story makes a wonderful place to jump in.

What's next for you? Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?

As I said, Immortal Defender is coming next August 2012, and quiet, monkish Torvald has a real adventure in store after he bumps into Josian Delamere one night. You see, Josian is definitely not the shy, virgin widow of romance mythology. She’s talkative, quick, and shall we say...a bit fast.  In other words, she’s a true merry widow for the contemplative man I sometimes refer to as my Zen Viking. She boldly invites Torvald to come on up to Chestershire and see her sometime, and oh my, do the sparks fly. But madmen, zealots, and ancient magic conspire to destroy them, and it will take all the courage each of them has to beat back the darkness and find their way to freedom and love.

Since I’m one of the slower writers in the biz and people are already emailing me that they’re getting impatient, I’ve decided to self-publish a short story to tide everyone over. I’m not sure yet whether it will be about Tom, Ivar’s squire from Immortal Warrior, or Robin/Robert from Immortal Outlaw. I have stories for both churning around in my head, so we’ll see which one won’t leave me alone after I finish my current WIP. Or maybe I’ll write both. All I’m certain of right now is that my newsletter subscribers will get it for free. (How’s that for a bribe? Sign-up for the newsletter here.)

And finally, I’ll be republishing my out of print works in ebook format over the next several months. Readers should sign up for my newsletter to keep up with the news.

Wow! You certainly have a lot going on with free reads, a long series, and a newsletter to keep us all up to date.

Thank you so much for joining us, Lisa.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to download books 2 and 3 right now!  I liked book 1, Immortal Warrior, but then I got busy and the next two slipped by without me buying them. This interview convinced me I was missing out. 

Be sure to visit Lisa's website, where you can find excerpts from all the books, interactive maps of the locations, and info on how to get some fun swag. (like cool romance trading cards)

Below are links to all of Lisa's books in this series.  Enjoy!


Minnette Meador said...

I simply LOVE these books and everyone needs to read them. I'm on the third right now and WOW... Anyway, keep 'em coming, girl! :o)

Lisa Hendrix said...

Thanks, Minnette!

And thanks to you, Maggie, for inviting me over and asking such great questions.

I'll be back to check in on and off throughout the day, so if anyone else has questions, about the books, the writing, or anything else, ask away.

Jacquie Rogers said...

What about the women? How do you go about picking just the right heroine to give your hero a run for his money?

Lisa Hendrix said...

The great heroine question, eh?

The easiest thing, of course, is to make them opposites: If he's bitter and gloomy, she can be all sweetness and light (or vice versa). But not only is that likely to lead to cliché, it's just too easy. I find it better to have them like minded up to a point—but have that point be really critical.

I try to figure out what kind of woman would appeal to that kind of man. For Gunnar (Immortal Champion), I knew he would be attracted to someone quick and lively, but I also realized he needed someone who flat-out adored him as much as he adored her —enough to make up for his doubts about himself — and who was as stubborn in her own way as he was. He and Eleanor are both dreamers, and neither quite knows how to make those dreams come true — but they're both going to keep plowing ahead until they do.

Torvald (Immortal Defender) is quiet and contemplative. But he didn't always think things through, and it got him into trouble long ago — trouble bad enough to force a change. Now suddenly, he has this slightly wild woman in his life, and Josian's impulsive nature reminds him of his younger self — right down to the trouble it creates for them both. The question is, will he remain his aloof, "monkish" self or will her wildness call him out of his self-imposed cell.

Hmm. I think I need to go write a bit...

Jean Paradis said...

Good blog. These books sound great! I'm putting them on my 'to read' read list.

Vonnie Alto said...

Hi Lisa,

How very clever to self-publish a short story to keep readers interested in your series. What a great promo idea!

Paty Jager said...

It was fun learning even more about your Vikings. You do an awesome job of getting the word out about your books.

Lisa Hendrix said...

Thanks, Vonnie. Now I just have to write it! (After I finish Immortal Defender, of course.)

And Paty — I try. Sometimes it feels like swimming the Amazon — upstream, with piranha bait strapped to my toes — but I do like Dory and "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming..."