Watch out! The Vikings are coming… 3 February 2016 – Posted in: Uncategorised

We interviewed the author, Máire Zepf.

 You obviously have a great imagination, but how did you come up with the overall concept of the story?

I spent many holidays as child staying in my great-aunt Annie’s house in Co. Leitrim. It was an eccentric old place, full of dust and magic. Upstairs, there was a strange door that didn’t really go anywhere at all – out onto the garden, but at first floor level. I used to make up stories about that door as a child. Sometimes there were fairies behind it, or an invisible castle. In this series, I imagined the self-same door, or one very like it, as a portal to times past.

Do tell us how you went about researching the story.

It was really important to me that the story should be accurate, informative and interesting from a historical point of view, not only with regard to facts, but also in terms of underlying opinion. So first and foremost, I read mountains of history books and papers on the Vikings. There are wonderful debates among historians about the role of women in Viking society, for example, that were fascinating to read as background. I spent time in the museums too. Archaeology is central to getting to know the Vikings, since they didn’t leave us written records. I was so inspired by the artefacts that I wrote them into the fabric of the story.

Which is your favourite character in the book, and why?

I really like Bjarki. She’s a little Viking girl, wearing a light blue dress and a pink apron, but with a firm grip on her wooden sword. She’s a fighter – fierce and wild – or at least that’s how she’d like people to see her! I loved watching her in my head while I was writing.

What’s the most difficult part of the writing process, for you?

The beginning! I’ve my notebooks filled with jottings and thoughts, the research done, the plot worked out, and I know the characters inside out. I put a blank sheet of paper in front of me, and suddenly I’m paralysed by the sight. It is as if the words get stage fright! But luckily, after the first chapter, it all gets a lot easier.

What advice have you got for any reader who’d like to be a writer?

Read as much as you can, to begin with. If you want to write for children, then start reading children’s books. That gives you a good understanding of the different genres and styles that are suitable for different age groups. And after that, all I can say is that you shouldn’t expect it to be as easy as you might at first have thought!

Lá leis na Lochlannaigh will be available from 1 March, or from LoveLeabharGaeilge stands in the bookshops from the 20th of February.

A sample of the book below:

[responsive-flipbook id=”lochlannaigh”]

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