1. Before we start talking about your book, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself?
I live in Southern England with my family, although I have lived in various places around Britain, such as London, Wales and Tyneside. I have had a range of jobs, in banks and charities, libraries and schools, so I’m thinking of ways I can put all that experience into books..!
2. Besides writing, what other things do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy motor racing, usually watching it, although I did drive a rally car round Brands Hatch for my 30th birthday. I love the cinema, usually independent, character driven films and sci-fi, imagining what the future will be like…
3. What is your daily routine as far as when you have an idea for your story?
I don’t tend to have a routine, I usually have to fit in around family commitments and scribble down ideas when I can. I’ve even taken a notepad to work and written in it when I got a moment in the day.
At the moment my job is proofreading and editing, which luckily I can do from home. It is non-fiction, but it still ‘keeps my hand in’ at crafting sentences, ideas, clear communication etc. I have definitely got the idea of what the ‘passive voice’ is, which doesn’t matter in academic work, but is disastrous in fiction.
4. Where do you get your ideas from?
Er… I’m not too sure. My first book, Descending and Surfacing, was from my job in education, and explored forbidden relationships—actually all my books explore that subject. I wrote some historical romances—Victorian and Dark Ages—because I am interested in history and wanted to draw parallels between people then and people now.
5. Out of all of the stories you’ve written so far, what would be your favorite and why?
I think the latest one, ‘Ragnar the Just.’ It is way out of my comfort zone as it’s a gay male romance, but I did it! I think I wrote it convincingly and proved to myself I can do it.
6. Tell us something funny about yourself that not a lot of people know about?
I can’t think of anything L
7. Does any of the stories you’ve written based on real life experiences or basically just from imagination?
As I said above, my first book was inspired by my job in education, but I just remembered that I started researching Vikings due to my two friends—also writers—Richard R Jones (Reggie) and Ryan Spier. They are both tall, red-haired, covered in tattoos and love going out drinking till all hours. I imagined them as Vikings, and Ragnar was created. And researching Norse culture was really fascinating, I got completely immersed in it.
8. Does your ‘muse’ have a name and if so what is his/her name?
I’ve had plenty of different muses, they all have names. The current one is called Thomas.
9. What other genre besides the one you are writing about now would you like to venture into writing?
Hm… I’ve written contemporary drama, historical romance, gay romance… not sure. I’ve always wanted to write a screenplay. I turned ‘Ragnar the Murderer’ into a screenplay, with invaluable help from Reggie and others. I love writing dialogue, that is why. Maybe one day I will write an original screenplay…
10. Who are your favorite authors that are out now?
I love Alex Beecroft’s books, she is so good at immersing the reader in the time period and atmosphere of her stories. And Stephen Fry, he’s such an intelligent man who despite that, never makes anyone feel stupid. His books are rather woffly, but very interesting.
11. Who is your favorite female and male characters from your books and why?
I love Kjartan, he’s the opposite of me—reckless, will try anything and fight anyone, yet he does have a heart. And my favourite female character is either Aelfwyn, the ‘ugly duckling’ of the English—we’ve all felt like that at one stage or other—or Ifeyinwa, the African slave who observes the Danes from the outside, pointing out their strange ways to herself and the reader. She is such a strong woman, brutally torn from her home, yet able to make another home in an alien environment.
12. What do you think is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Marketing and selling myself. I don’t want to do that, I just want to write.
13. What advice would you give someone who wants to start off being a writer?
Just start writing. Anything—ideas, observations, poems, stream of consciousness—to get the creative juices flowing. Read some good books on the writing process, I recommend ‘Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time’ by Jordan E. Rosenfeld. Really original advice on how to build a great story. It was recommended to me by my friend, the poet Sudam Panigrahi.
14. If you hadn’t become a writer, what do you think you would be doing right now?
I’d still be writing, but secretly as a hobby if I’d never dared show my work to anyone. I might still be working in education. I’d be very bored, whatever I was doing.
15. What would be the perfect Romantic getaway?
I really love Rome, it’s so full of history and whenever I’ve been to Italy, the Italians are just so nice- friendly and interested in other people. I’d spend a week or two there looking at all the historic sites, alternated with relaxing days in the parks and gardens there.
Well now that we got the question and answer out of the way…..why don’t you tell us about your latest story you have out now?
My latest book is ‘Ragnar the Just’, a gay male romance set in the Dark Ages, and is the next in my Ragnar the Dane series.
Ragnar the Just
916 A.D. East Anglia under the Danelaw.
In Dark Age Britain, you knew your place and if you didn’t keep to it, you faced the consequences…
Hot-blooded Kjartan, accidental hero, has settled down into married life, with a baby on the way. But when he meets handsome glass maker Lini, their unlawful relationship provokes angry and passionate reactions from their kinfolk.
They have to fight back against the prejudice of Norse culture, and find out who their real friends—and enemies—are. And this conflict leads to murder.
But who is the victim, and who the killer?
Lini worked at his forge every day, and as Kjartan was waiting for the hay harvest to start, it was the best place to meet to talk about their training school.
The hay harvest was the first of the year. It was very important to store enough hay to feed the animals over winter. Later would come the vegetables, the fruit and, most importantly, the cereal grasses: wheat, barley, oats and rye.
“If the number of boys turn up who said they would, we’ll need twenty of each weapon. That means axes, swords, spears, shields, hay bales,” Kjartan mused.
Lini was only half listening as he used a rake to stir the sand and potash mixture in the oven, which was always alight. He had to constantly rake and stir it to allow waste gases to escape. He would then break it up and put it into a crucible, often adding cullet, depending on what colour glass he wanted, then melt it in the kiln. If all went well, glass would form; however it was a difficult process and took great skill as well as luck.
Despite both back and front doors being open, the forge was extremely hot with both the oven and kiln alight, so he’d taken off his tunic. Without it he didn’t look as slim; he had a slight barrel chest from glass blowing. Kjartan had seen musicians with chests like this during his travels; extended playing of pan flutes and horn pipes produced such a shape.
Lini also had well-developed arm muscles from chopping the wood needed to keep the oven and kiln going, which he then made into charcoal in a clearing in the woods outside.
“We could train the boys outside the village in daytime. There’s more room,” continued Kjartan. “I’ll just have to think of some way of teaching them stuff in the right order.”
Lini went to the kiln and put the glass blowing rod into it, collecting a blob of molten green glass. He was wearing gloves but there were old burns on his arms above the glove cuff. He blew into the cloth mouthpiece of the iron rod carefully, and Kjartan watched in amazement as the bubble expanded. He spun it round and held a tool to it, shaping it into a symmetrical bowl shape. When it was finished, he put it into the low heated oven so it would cool down extremely slowly and not crack. He repeated the process a few more times.
By now, Kjartan had completely forgotten what he was talking about and was just gazing, mesmerised.
“It’s totally different to fighting in a battle, yes?” said Lini, smiling and wiping the sweat from his brow with his arm. “Quite calming.”
Kjartan nodded, staring at the sweat running down Lini’s tanned back.
“So, the fighting school? You got as far as saying what you were going to teach them.”
“Oh. Yes. I’ll think of something.” It was far too hot in the forge. It was stopping his mind from working properly.
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Lily-Byrne/e/B005D4JBI0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1374740381&sr=8-1
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lily-Byrne/e/B005D4JBI0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1374740618&sr=8-1
My blog: http://lilybyrne.wordpress.com/