Title: The Blood-Tainted Winter
Author: T.L. Greylock
Publisher: Grass Crown Press
Publication Date: November 20, 2015
Genre: Mythological Fantasy
Raef Skallagrim wants to take the sea road. His ship is fast and sleek, his crew skilled and eager, and they will seek out new lands and win fame in the eyes of the gods. But Raef’s father refuses to allow the journey and when a stranger brings word that the king is dead and a gathering has been called to choose a successor, Raef must set aside his dream for his duty to his ancestral lands and his father.
When factions split at the gathering to choose a successor, Raef finds himself mired in bloodshed and treachery. Forced to make an uneasy alliance with a man he does not trust, Raef must navigate the tides of a war among three kings while seeking revenge for cold-blooded murder.
But winter has come early to Midgard, and even the gods will feel the cold.
The eBook will be free on Amazon from December 18 to December 22 – just in time for Christmas!
Interview with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I ate a lot of Cheez-Its as a child. I once dressed as a landfill for Halloween. I’ve raced pigeons in the gardens of the Tuileries in Paris. I had a violin named Wolfgang. I don’t like chocolate-covered strawberries. I’m pretty good with a canoe. I can’t juggle. Or whistle. But I make top-notch macaroni and cheese.
That’s the important stuff, right?
Oh, you mean that other important stuff?
I grew up in Minnesota and headed to Massachusetts for college, where I played ice hockey (go Ephs!) and majored in History. Immediately after graduating, I applied and was accepted to an MFA program but decided that wasn’t the right choice for me. Among other jobs, I spent seven years coaching high school hockey and lacrosse back in Minnesota, traveled to places like Ireland, Norway, Puerto Rico, England, and the USVIs, and moved to London this September to pursue a MA in Classical Archaeology.
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
My writing journey began with my love of reading at a very young age. As a teenager, I was always working on stories that emulated the books I loved. After college, I didn’t write for a while–you know, trying to be an adult and all. This particular project was born on the day I attended a free writing workshop at my local library. It was a miserable two hours during which everyone was trying too hard to be profound and I left there wondering what on earth I was going to do with the 800 or so words of a Norse story that I really felt deserved more. I called my uncle, a successful author of a series of mysteries, the next day and we talked for a couple hours about storytelling. That launched this project into a realm of writing I had never visited before.
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
I have to mention Lindsey Davis first even though my writing doesn’t much resemble hers because her Marcus Didius Falco mysteries set in ancient Rome were a staple on my bookshelf (at an age when they were most definitely inappropriate for me). She was the first author I can remember wanting to be like.
Other key influences have been Mary Renault, Colleen McCullough, and Margaret George, who all taught me how to blend history and fiction (and mythology, in Renault’s case). I owe them a great deal.
This particular project, however, is heavily influenced by Homer, Snorri Sturluson, even Shakespeare.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
As a poor MA student living in London for a year, my life pretty much revolves around trips to the library and trips to the supermarket. I take breaks from reading articles on archaeological theories by checking the latest highlights on NHL.com, practicing my French on Duolingo, and walking past all the theaters I can’t afford tickets to. I edit book two of this series when I can.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
Honestly, I think this novel (and the rest of The Song of the Ash Tree) was germinating for a long time before I ever knew it was there, and it wasn’t so much that I came up with the idea as the story finally worked its way loose from my subconscious. It sounds a bit ridiculous to say this, but I genuinely feel that I was meant to tell this story.
There are a lot of things that fed into it, though. I read many of the Icelandic sagas in college, I knew Richard Wagner’s Germanic version of Norse mythology from his Ring operas, and I had read enough historical fiction with Vikings (Bernard Cornwell, for starters, and I stormed through Giles Kristian’s Norse books while writing the first third of the third book) to just sort of have this stuff floating around in my brain. It had to go somewhere!
6) What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
I have trouble assigning a genre to this book and I think that helps make it different. Technically, yes, it’s fantasy. Clearly I got to make a whole bunch of stuff up. But I like to think it has the feel of historical fiction. I’m not trying to dazzle you with complex magic systems and a brand-spanking new secondary world. The mythology is the backbone of this series–and what is mythology but history that has been blurred through countless retellings?
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
I have to choose Raef, my protagonist, the heart of this story. Honestly, in a lot of ways we are nothing alike. At Raef’s core, however, rests something that I also hold dear, though I can only aspire to what is as natural to him as breathing. I hesitate to say more, though, because it’s so central to who he is and, in some ways, the story, especially in the third book.
A close second is Vakre, though I don’t think he reflects me at all. Vakre’s a bit of a mystery and developing his friendship with Raef was a lot of fun.
8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
The climax sticks out, for sure. It was finally the opportunity to bring in a long-cherished element of the mythology that I had been holding out on and it was so fulfilling to see things fall in place.
Vakre’s introduction also was fun, partially because I adore Vakre, and partially because it was actually rewritten completely along with the rest of the opening six and a half chapters several months after I finished the first draft. Sinking my teeth into that rewrite was very satisfying.
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
I’d love for readers to be looking forward to the second book, The Hills of Home! I also hope I’ve sparked their interest in Norse mythology.
10) What are your hopes for this novel?
Oh, you know, a contract with the BBC or HBO. In all seriousness, I understand how difficult it is for new authors to build an audience. I want this book to show readers that I know how to tell a good story and that there’s more where it came from.
11) What do you have in store next for your readers?
The second book in The Song of the Ash Tree is called The Hills of Home and I plan on releasing it in 2016. It will take Raef to new and unexpected places that will test his will to survive and lead him to question everything he strives for.
About the Author
T L Greylock is the author of The Blood-Tainted Winter, the first installment in a new Norse saga, The Song of the Ash Tree. She drinks tea (English breakfast with milk), wears neon colored socks, and once held an epic pigeon racing tournament in the gardens of The Tuileries.