Only 3 days until the Vikings land – how exciting! I hope you’ve been enjoying our countdown, and the teasing little excerpts we’ve given you. I certainly have. Even if I’ve had to retreat to a cool, dark corner and fan myself to put out the flames…
But on to business. Or perhaps I should say pleasure?
Writing my story, “Ásgeirr and the Tree of Life”, was a pleasure from beginning to end. Most of my published stories are contemporaries, but I love doing historical research, so this gig was a dream. I watched the BBC Vikings documentary series, and took lots of notes. I researched what their lives were like, what they wore, what they ate, how they worshipped and celebrated. And gradually, the idea took shape.
Before I began writing, though, I needed to know my characters. I always start with names – it can take me ages to get them right. Lovers’ names have to sound sexy, both individually and when paired together, or it can pull you out of the fantasy. And no-one wants that!
Because this is the Viking age, full of myth and mystery, I gave my characters names with special meaning. Ásgeirr, the name I chose for my honourable Viking, means ‘divine spear’, or ‘spear of the gods’. And Ashling, the woman who saves Ásgeirr’s life, means “dream” or “vision” in Gaelic. The first part of her name – Ash – has a special significance in my story, but you’ll have to read it to find out.
Once I’d named my characters, I had to figure out what they looked like. Because when I write, I’m just putting down on paper the movies that play inside my head. If I’m stuck, sometimes I close my eyes for a bit, and let the actors take over.
So, without further ado, let me introduce the players…
Ásgeirr, who looks like a combination of these two attractive gentlemen:
…and Ashling, who looks like this:
Or like this, when she’s staring out to sea:
Source (Photo Credit: Alex Mazurov)
And now, because you’ve been SO GOOD, it’s time for an EXCERPT!
ÁSGEIRR AND THE TREE OF LIFE by Mina Murray
Danger and desire collide when a wounded Viking warrior washes ashore on a remote Irish island
…The island folk think all Northmen are fair-haired, but this one’s hair is dark. Closely cropped at the sides and back, longer on top and at the front, it falls at a rakish angle over his forehead. His dark beard, the hair curling over his chest and his forearms, all emphasize the natural paleness of his skin. Ashling cocks her head to the side, taking in the long lines of his back then letting her gaze travel lower. Over the dip at the base of his spine. Over the mounds of his arse. Over his powerful thighs, the back of his legs, his ankles, his long feet.
Ashling’s heart thuds as she circles to view him from the front, scandalized at the brazenness, the thoroughness, with which she examines him.
A line of hair bisects the sharply-defined muscles of his abdomen. The fine trail starts just above his umbilicus and leads all the way down to his member, which lies like a sleeping dragon along his thigh.
No, thinks Ashling. Not a dragon.
For etched into the sensitive skin just below his navel is another tattoo. A serpent, biting its tail. She drops to her knees beside the bed to get a better look and a shock pulses sharply, sensually, through her. Down, down, down the serpent writhes. Its scaled body coils intimately around its master’s cock, and then rears up again, tapering gradually to the fine point of a tail held between two sharp fangs.
Nothing can prevent Ashling from touching the Northman now, from tracing with her fingertips the tattoo’s serpentine progress. She undresses quickly, casting off her overdress and her léine, and lies down beside him.
His skin burns against hers. The fever that threatened earlier has taken hold. For a moment, she feels a pang of guilt. But then the voice of temptation speaks. He will not remember, it says. Or he will think it only a dream…