Thursday, September 8, 2011 Author Interview: Mary Ann Bernal
Jenn Ladd - Booksessed
For those of you who are unfamiliar with her work, Mary Ann Bernal is the author of the Briton and the Dane trilogy. It's a historical fiction epic about vikings during the ninth Century. I have been loving every moment of this series, Mary Ann really knows how to write plot twists and cliffhangers. Mary Ann emailed me a few months ago asking if I would read her books. Being the complete historical fiction nerd that I am, I readily said yes and I am so glad I did. I mean how much hf is there about vikings once you've read Ivanhoe? I am beyond in love with the series. The third book, Legacy is coming out in 2012 (which seems so far away!!)
When I was reading book two Birthright, and emailed Mary Ann about how much I was loving her book and we were discussing plot twists, and she even offered to tell me a spoiler. I held out and was so glad I did, which inevitably led to more emailing. During all these emails, I thought why don't I just ask Mary Ann to do an interview for my blog and she agreed, which is so awesome of her.
You can read the review below. I'm posting my review of The Briton and the Dane: Birthright on the blog tomorrow and you can read my review of The Briton and the Dane here.
Special thanks to Mary Ann Bernal!!
With all the plots and characters in your novel, and the new characters added in each book, how do you keep track?
My characters are my “children” so it is not difficult to remember any of them. I keep track of their locations on my map of Wessex, which is continually updated as the story progresses, since everyone moves about quite a bit.
What were some of the things that you found most fascinating during your research?
Did you know that the Vikings had ear spoons which were used to clean out ear wax, and that they did practice personal grooming and did bathe on Saturday night? Women preferred men who did not smell.
The Vikings enjoyed sporting events such as wrestling, foot races, swimming and skiing to name but a few. They also played board games such as tabula (backgammon) to keep themselves occupied during the long winter months.
The ravaging seafarers that attacked the civilized world did not represent the majority of the Scandinavian people, who were peaceful farmers and traders.
When the Anglo-Saxons ousted the Britons, they shied away from Roman towns, preferring to live in small villages.
The Anglo-Saxons did not believe in bathing, and monks only bathed five times a year.
The Anglo-Saxons put sheepskins around their beds to get rid of fleas.
Do you plan to write about other aspects of English history?
I do love the Roman-Britain era and am considering a trilogy set during this fascinating time.
What can we expect from the third book of the trilogy?
Questions will be answered and the fate of the characters will be revealed.
Did you find that you got very attached to certain characters?
This question is difficult to answer because I do love all my characters; how could I put Erik and Gwyneth above David and Helga or Elizabeth and Stephen? I will confess that I do have a soft spot for Arista and Liesel. Ah but who is Liesel you ask? You will meet her in “Legacy.”
I’m always fascinated by how authors feel about their “evil” characters, what was writing them like and how do you feel about them?
I delved into the mind of the villain to understand why he or she chose the wrong path. While their past history could not condone their actions, their past did play a major role in shaping their personalities. Of course the dilemma lies with their redemption, are they pure evil or can they be redeemed? I do not find it easier to “kill off” an evil character because I understand his/her torment; but all things considered, the evil character’s fate is sealed once he/she refuses to conform to societal behavior and expectations.
What was the best part about the writing process for you?
I love to breathe life into characters of a long-forgotten age while revealing their innermost thoughts and emotions, while reminding the modern reader that mankind has not changed over the centuries. The human element has remained the same throughout the centuries