Please welcome author Jianne Carlo. Her historical romance The Bear and the Bride is coming soon from Etopia Press.
But first, here’s a look at the cover art for The Bear and the Bride, done by artist Mina Carter.
Annie: Welcome, Jianne! The Bear and the Bride takes place in 1028 AD and contains four Viking brothers on the search for brides. I love Viking stories. Did you enjoy doing the research?
Jianne Carlo: Enjoy??? It’s more like I’ve become obsessed. I love this period and really wanted to set something during King Cnut’s reign. He’s the only monarch to have ruled England, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden simultaneously. And no one knows anything about him. It boggles my mind.
Annie: Tell us a little about Torsten, the oldest Viking brother. This is his story…
Jianne Carlo: He’s a ferocious warrior who guards his wealth and position zealously. Torsten never expects to fall in love, and he doesn’t like the feeling one single bit. He relishes being in control and seeks to bind Ainslin to him by dominating her completely. Little does he know…
Annie: And now, what about Ainslin? Certainly she can give this Viking warrior a run for his money in matters of the heart?
Jianne Carlo: Ainslin hasn’t survived countless wars, Viking raids, and Earl Sigrid’s unwanted attentions by being a weak-kneed woman. Nothing matters more to her than her twin boys and she’ll do anything to keep them safe including marrying the pillage and plunder Viking warrior known as the Northern Bear. What she isn’t prepared for is his tender lovemaking and his sense of humor.
Annie: If you will, please share with us the story of how you came to write romances. There was a wedding, and a castle, and a certain book…
Jianne Carlo: Ah yes, the wedding at Clearwell Castle in Wales. A wedding we RSVPed in the negative to three days after receiving the invitation.
Two days before the date, the DH blithely informs me we’re attending the event, and are to catch a transatlantic flight the following day at 6 PM.
If you’re female, you know how much I wanted to brain the man!
I mean, their electricity is different, my hair needed coloring, the last time I wore a formal dress I weighed fifteen pounds less, not to mention the price of a last-minute wedding gift. Needless to say I was not my usually anal-organized self and had to grab the first book I found in the airport for the flight (oh, yes we barely made it onto the plane in time!).
The book was Christina Dodd’s Once A Night and after the DH fell asleep, I devoured the story. I didn’t get one second of sleep.
The DH awakes as we’re landing and I turn the last page. He blinks and asks if I’ve been up all night. I answer, “I’m going to write a romance novel.”
He jerks up from a slumped position, peers at me, and asks, “Just how much champagne did you drink?”
Fast forward six months.
I’ve finished and published my first book.
My Romance Writers of America’s chapter is holding a Cruise with Your Muse conference and the guest speaker is Christina Dodd. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about telling Christina the whole story. She was tickled pink.
(In case anyone wants to read the whole story – including the part about my first book going up in smoke literally – I’ve added it to my website for the month of December – here’s the link http://www.jiannecarlo.com/Content/14/You-Wrote-a-What.aspx/ )
Annie: How much of an influence did the setting and atmosphere of Norway have on this story?
Jianne Carlo: The tale’s set amidst the ever-changing alliances and battles during King Cnut’s campaign to secure his rule over Denmark, England, Norway, and Sweden. An ally can become an enemy overnight as men compete for lands and wives, and Cnut sought to control each new territory.
The setting and the time drove the story and the characters. For days before beginning the tale I’d try to imagine what it must have felt like to be able to trust no one, to be told to marry a stranger, and simply have to make the best of your assigned lot in life. Women had very few choices and to survive had to mold a situation to their advantage.
A young, rich widow like Ainslin is so desperate to keep her sons safe, she agrees to leave the only home she’s ever known, and settle on the isolated, harsh lands of the Norsemen. She marries Torsten, the brutal and feared warrior known as the Northern Bear, on the chance he will accept both her and her boys.
That’s jumping from the pot into the midst of an inferno. But what other choice does Ainslin have?
Annie: How much do exotic locations play in crafting your stories? Do you tend to start with a location or setting and then create characters and a plot, or vice versa?
Jianne Carlo: Usually the characters come first, but not with The Bear and the Bride.
In this case the year and the location came first. I’m taking a course on the Vikings’ influence on civilization and find the period of King Cnut’s rule fascinating. Life back then was so harsh and so difficult that you had to be strong and vigilant to survive. I knew from the beginning that Ainslin and Torsten would be stalwart characters.
I went to bed one night, woke up early (as in 4:00 am – I know I’m certifiable), and started writing. I’m terrible with short stories and challenged myself to keep the tale under 15,000 words – okay so I didn’t quite make my self-imposed word limit. When you’re writing a short story every word has to count. It’s so much more difficult than a longer tale. It meant the plot had to follow the KISS rules, keep it simple stupid. Yet you have to do the whole character arc, take the hero or heroine out of the ordinary world and have her/him evolve because of circumstances.
And I have a terrible confession to make — I never plan my books. I have a general idea of where they’re going, but I never quite know the ending. And my day job is implementing computerized financial systems where everything has to be planned and detail to the max. Go figure.
I finished The Bear and The Bride in three days.
Since The Bear and The Bride is my first venture into the historical genre, I was insecure about showing it to anyone, and waited an entire week before sending it to Georgia. There’s no describing the pins and needles I sat on while waiting for her response. Thank goodness she liked it!
Annie: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us, Jianne.
For readers interested in other books by Jianne Carlo, her website can be found here: