It was by birthday two weeks ago, I turned twenty-eight. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of birthdays, but it was nice. My husband spoiled me with some new house plants, new books, some “Sailor Moon” Luna and Artemis salt shakers (I’ve been obsessed with that anime since I was a little kid) and a wrap skirt – I’m looking forward to summer when I can wear it. 😛 It ended up snowing the day after my birthday – I don’t know the total, but there was a LOT. It’s finally melting away; hopefully we can have a couple more weeks of autumn before winter arrives for real.

Frigg, wife of Odin
Jenny Nyström (1854-1946)

Since my birthday, I have been working steadily on book 3. I have the draft of the first eight chapters done, but rather than continue from there in chronological order, I decided to begin the last part (well, sort of middle to last part) of the book instead. 62 pages and 22,395 words later over three days later, I’m pretty happy, haha! I don’t want to give any spoilers away so I won’t say much as to what the chapters are about, but they are dark and exciting – Aveline is travelling the world and going through a lot in the final book.

I look back over the previous two books and see where Aveline began and how much she has grown since then. As cliche as it sounds, seeing her grow fills my heart but leaves me a little saddened since I know this is it for her. Once the Danethrall trilogy is over, I won’t return to her.

Aveline’s saga began as just a hobby, just a story I was writing to fill time in my day between children and chores, but it became so much more. It became a published book, then two – now a third in the works! It was a dream come true – an item ticked off my bucket list. I always wanted to write a novel, but I could never finish one no matter what I wrote about. Drawn to the idea of Aveline’s life, the life of an Anglo-Saxon in the land of the Danes, I finally found a story I could finish. Indeed, it ended up spanning over three books!

My interest in history (especially that of the Viking age) has been lifelong. As mentioned in my bio, I was born and grew up in East Anglia, Aveline’s homeland of the Kingdom of the East Angles, where the Great Heathen Army attacked in 865. Aveline’s saga opened that entire world to me; I searched for inspiration for the next event in Aveline’s life, scouring sources of the Early Middle Ages, travelling 9th century Europe through the pages of books.

Some of the subject matter in the books is very provocative and unsettling, but in a strange way, I am glad those pieces unnerve my readers. The Middle Ages were a dark time, people did not have the morals and sensibilities we have today and I am not writing about modern people or times. Seeing the atrocities of the past makes you appreciate the time you’re living in, makes you realise how much humankind has improved over the centuries. You might find some parts distasteful or horrific, but such was the normalcy of the time, and I did not and will not water it down. Though there might be a few historical inaccuracies scattered about my books (nothing can be perfect, right?), for the most part, my characters are suited to the period they live in and I pride myself on the realness of them and the situations they go through.

I am proud of my books. The Danethrall Trilogy might not be a bestselling series, and the novels are not traditionally published, but they are mine. I achieved something I’d always wanted to do because of them. Every time I receive a positive review or message from a reader – from a stranger who decided my books interested them – I am filled with happiness. I never thought that one day someone across the globe would personally write me and tell me they enjoyed my book.

Damn, I even enjoy the criticism to a certain extent – it proves that I have done something, that my story has had an effect on someone regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. I must admit, I’m thankful the criticism I have received has never been wholly negative and has been about the shocking nature of certain scenes – though funnily enough, not the scenes I thought I’d get complaints about, haha!

This post is getting long now, so I’ll end it here. 🙂 Thank you for everyone who has bought, borrowed, read, reviewed and reached out to me. – GSKT

A Viking ship is approached by Byzantines at Constantinople.
Michael Hampshire/National Geographic/Getty Images

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