Who is this NH Kerr writing Viking fiction? In her own words... One version short and possibly facetious; the other long and rambling, likely necessitating tea or other drink of choice...
Who am I? Well ...
At a glimpse (and with totally over-the-top alliteration):
Fictionista and fanatical green-freak living on an old faraway farm at the forest edge with a frolicsome flock of fur, fleece and feather friends.
I write, I read, I walk, I live, I grow, I teach, I learn, I care.
Now for the long-prose version. Here's where drink comes in... You may want to fill your teacup and sit down comfortably.
On Historical Fiction and Accuracy
As you may or may not know already, I write historical fiction. My story crafting relies on published research and academic theories to portray the world of the Vikings as accurately as possible. However, we do not know every detail of everyday life, and I love how this allows me to use my imagination to fill in the gaps and weave fictional characters into what historical knowledge we do possess.
I strive to not make any glaring anachronisms in my fiction, and I base all my world-building on academic research and interpretation of archaeological findings. However, two factors leave room for possible error.
The first is how archaeologists and researchers discover new things all the time. While I was writing the first draft of Signy Kráka, new features were discovered in Uppsala. I ran with the early interpretations of them in my story, and these may later prove to be mistaken.
The second factor is that the written sources we have about this period in time are either later and post-Christianity, like the famous Eddas, or they are by chroniclers from another culture. As anybody can work out that makes such sources less reliable because they will be coloured by the chronicler’s own belief system.
On Icelandic Sagas and Gratitude
I don't think it is a coincidence that my genre of choice when it comes to writing is historical fiction. Growing up with a historian turned librarian for a mother, I was fortunate to have to hand a home library packed with inspiring books, factual and fictional. Among the treasures were three ginormous leather-bound volumes of the Icelandic Sagas translated into Danish.
The sheer physicality of those three books I will never forget. Massive things, heavy. Each at least 5 cm / 2 inches thick and sized more like a side table than a book. They felt as completely medieval as their content. The first time I actually read them I was twelve. They are not exactly light reading in content, and in that edition, most definitely not in format either.
My love of history museums I likewise attribute to my mother and her persistent planning of family outings no matter how reluctant, at times outright petulant, her offspring could be. At least, she now knows how much it did influence the adult version of me. (Thanks, Mum!)
My two absolutely favourite activities are walking with my dogs and reading stories that completely let me live in them.
On Reading, Creating, and My Favourite Author
When life allows, I can read for days on end; and I have been known to hide from house guests in the bathroom because I was desperate to read. You see, that's the thing about living on a faraway farm: visitors tend to stay for days, or at the least, overnight.
Both my parents are readers, and I grew up with stories and with reading. My favourite author is Astrid Lindgren. A Swedish children's author loved by children all over Scandinavia, and whose writing I still enjoy to re-read as an adult. In my opinion she is heads above anyone else. Anyone.
As a child, I made up plays and stories, but I didn't write them down; I performed them with my Pelham puppets, or my friends and I acted them out in person. I don't mean in front of an audience; that was with the puppets.
In my dark moments, I fear I was a bossy child; in my rosier moments, I cling to the hope that my ideas were just that much fun nobody objected.
The way I remember it, one of my recurring childhood chores was raking up the grass cuttings in our large garden, and I always invented some story involving peasants, an evil lord, and some version of a Robin Hood or Zorro, getting my friends to take part - and rake with me. Pretty clever, and yet, playing at my house remained popular. I like to think it was the stories that did it, hehe.
Yes, well, who knows. Back to the adult me again.
On Learning and Dreaming
I hold a Masters degree in arts and humanities from Copenhagen University. This led to a career in teaching literature and second languages.
The saying that you learn best when you teach is so true. Teaching my students, I ended up learning much more about story structure and narrative technique than I ever did at university. Mainly because I got to analyse and discuss a wide variety of short stories with years and years of changing students.
In my late 20s, I began to dream about being an author, but this was not a career choice that had ever been encouraged by anyone. It wasn't mentioned in school; and strangely, considering how much my parents read, not by them either. In their defence, I hasten to add that I don't think I ever voiced an interest in writing stories.
Now, years later, I have finally written and published my first novel.