Interview: Lisa Hendrix

Literary Escapism would like to welcome Lisa Hendrix, author of Immortal Warrior.  She’s here to give us a glimpse into the Immortal Warrior and we’ll even get some tidbits about her next novel in the Immortal Brotherhood series, Immortal Outlaw, which will be out June 2, 2009.

Make sure you stick around and enter the contest at the end.  We’re giving away a copy of Immortal Warrior to a lucky commentator.

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For those of my readers unfamiliar with Immortal Warrior, can you give us a brief look at your novel and what readers can look forward to?
Immortal Warrior is the first in a series about a crew of Vikings who were cursed by a powerful sorceress after they killed her son. Enraged and full of grief, she wipes out most of the crew, and then condemns the survivors to live for eternity as were-beasts, spending half their lives as men and half as the embodiment of their fylgjur, their animal spirit companions (think Norse totems). Then she chases them into the forests to be hunted by men.

Ivar Graycloack is the first of the warriors to find his back into the edges of human society, some 240 years later. A great eagle by day, Ivar works as a mercenary/spy for the new Norman kings. But it’s a terribly lonely life, and one night he succumbs to temptation and asks the king not for gold, as usual, but for land and a hall. A home. He knows it won’t last, but he wants that little scrap of normalcy, just for a while. And then he discovers that, along with the land, King William has given him a wife.

What a wonderful, dangerous word to a man in Ivar’s situation: Wife.

The Viking men that you have cursed, how did you decide on which animals they would be? Are there any animals that mean something special to you and hence the reason they were included?
Mostly it was a matter of coming up with nine animals that were known by the Vikings in 850 AD and that were “sexy” — not too many people would want to read about a were-lemming or a were-pig. :-)

Basically, you can expect to see all the large predators, game animals, and domestic animals of northern Europe–plus a raven. The only major omission (besides that pig/wild boar), is the polar bear, which were common fylgjur, but just too difficult to hide in the English countryside for my purposes. To replace the polar bear (ice bear, to the Vikings) I brought in a lion, which the Vikings knew from their wide travels in Asia and northern Africa.

You’ve included a strange twist to your shapeshifters, where did that come from? Why are some men able to retain their humanity in their animal form while others are not? What is the significance between having some be human at night and animals during the day and vice versa?
The men are beasts at the time that their animals would naturally be active, i.e. eagles are diurnal creatures, so Ivar is an eagle by day. Steinarr, the hero of the next book, Immortal Outlaw, is a lion. Since lions are most active by night, that’s when the lion comes out. I did make a judgment call for Brand, since bears are active both day and night, so I made Brand’s life more miserable by making him human only at night. The only one who goes absolutely contrary to his animal’s natural patter is Ari the Skald, who is a raven (more about that in a second).

The ability of each man to retain a portion of himself while in the beast is related to how wild/violent his creature is. Brand, a bear, has almost no control or awareness over the bear (also related to the rage of the berserkers, who wore bear skins to express their furor–although Brand was never a berserker). Ivar has a little more awareness, just enough that he can use it in his spying, but he is still largely eagle. Steinarr, like Brand, will have almost no control over himself, becoming pure lion and extremely dangerous even to his friends.

Again, Ari is the exception, retaining almost all of himself when he is in raven form. Ari holds a unique place among the crew and in the series,and there are several layers of magic at play with him. First, Ari is a skald, or poet/storyteller, which gives him a unique connection to the myths and legends of his culture. He keeps the chronicle of the men, an excerpt of which ties together each book in the series. Second, he is a seer, and has been all his life. His deeper connection to the gods brings him added benefits and trials–especially since the gods don’t always choose to give him visions that are useful, or even accurate. Third, his fylgjur is a raven. Ravens are the sacred messengers of Odin, the father of all Norse gods, who sends his two ravens, Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Memory) out at dawn each day to gather information. They return each evening to sit on Odin’s shoulders and whisper the news into his ear. Ari serves this purpose for Brand, who is so dangerous as a bear that he can’t linger near people. Ari goes out during the day as a man, then spends his nights on Brand’s shoulder, having carried back news of world in the form of his written chronicle and the notes he leaves. Ari will be the lynchpin of much of the series, spinning out his saga, keeping the connection to the old ways, and serving as a conduit for magic.

We’ve met three of the nine cursed warriors and I’m wondering…how did Brand, Ari, and Ivar obtain their personalities? What was your inspiration when you were developing their characters? Will the six remaining men be equally as honorable or will we have a rogue in the mix?
Brand stepped out of a dream full-blown: hearty, tragic, bigger than life in all ways. The others have personalities related to the nature of their beasts and/or to how those beasts were perceived in the Middle Ages. The noble eagle. The trickster raven.

There will definitely be a rogue or two, and maybe even a few that go beyond rogue into bad-boy-needing-serious-redemption. In any group of nine men, you’re going to find some that have, shall we say, issues. (Think Lord of the Rings: Boromir gave in to the call of the Ring, Merry and Pippin were scamps, Gimli was overly competitive and anti-elf). I have rough personalities outlined for all my warriors, but I’m sure some will surprise me, and some will have harder lessons to learn than the others. In the end, though, they will all demonstrate their innately heroic characters. I do write romance, after all.

You’ve given us a strong heroine in Alaida. Was she inspired by anyone you personally know? Does she share the same qualities with yourself?
She has the qualities I wish I had–including the body. I stole her hair- and eye-color from my daughter.

I have to say, I didn’t see the twist coming at the end. I figured Cwen would make an appearance, but I didn’t think she would show up the way she did. Will Cwen be making appearances in all of the novels? Will she be affecting the lives of her cursed warriors much the same way she did with Ivar/Ivo?
Cwen is the ultimate stalker-bitch, obsessed with hurting the men even more than they have hurt her. However she is not all-powerful, so there will be times when she is hurt or otherwise finds her powers restricted, and times when she will come roaring back in full might and fury. Whether the magic is with her or not, however, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with, and she will create as much misery as she can for these men. She literally lives for it. And yet there will be moments when her humanity will come out, too, because in her way, she is as tragic as the warriors she haunts.

Cwen cursed the warriors to immortality as shapeshifters, and at the end, she cursed herself as well so she would live to see them suffer. Are you able to tell us what will happen to Cwen when the ninth warrior breaks his curse (at least we hope he will)? Will we end up with a story for Cwen or will she stay the bitter villain?
I’m going back and forth on this. There’s a part of me that says Brand can’t be fully healed until Cwen is either healed or dead. I just haven’t decided which yet. But you raise an interesting question: Could love be the answer for Cwen, too? Just what would it take for a mortal man to break through all that rage?. Or would it be a mortal man? Hmm.

Ah, it’s good to be a goddess in my own universe.

Something I’ve just thought of, your men are immortal and will stay that way until they all find their Fylgja (guardian spirit)…will all of your stories remain in this time period or could we find a tale in more modern times? Are the novels going to be spread throughout history or will they be restricted to a certain century?
The stories are spread throughout a thousand years, bringing the story (and Ari’s chronicle) right up to present day. Each book will be set in a different time period, not necessarily evenly spaced. And some stories will overlap in interesting ways.

Is there anything you can tease us with regarding the next novel in your series or anything regarding the remaining six men we have yet to meet?
Well, I already told you that Steinarr is a lion by night. (The tag line on this one is: “When the sun goes down, the beast comes out…” I do love the copy-writers at Berkley) He’s also much more bitter than the others we’ve met so far, and much lonelier, since he stays deep in the Shire Wood to keep from killing innocents. He has resigned himself to a pretty miserable existence–and then a chance encounter with a couple of travelers calling themselves Robin and Marian turns that existence upside down. It’s hard to be stolid and solitary when you’re surrounded by merry men and have met a woman who calls to the very beast within you.

You’ve written a few novels in the past, but from what I can tell, this is your first foray into historical (or medieval/renaissance) romance. What made you decide to focus your series in this time period? Is there anything about it that intrigues you? Was it difficult to write for this time period?
My first serious effort at writing was a medieval set in 1186. It’s now safely tucked away where it can’t hurt anyone, but when I stated this one, all I had to do was dig the banker’s box out of the closet and I had the biggest part of my research done. As I noted, the series isn’t actually focused in this era–it just happens to be when the first warrior finds his way out of the woods. The next one is medieval, too, though 200 years later, the third one another 150 years or so after than, and and then we start moving up through all those fun English eras: Elizabethan, Restoration, Georgian, Regency, Edwardian, etc.

Who do you like to read and why? Have you noticed your reading preferences changing as you’ve developed as an author?
In romance, I read Julia Quinn, Laura Kinsale, Eloisa James, Kristan Higgins, Nalini Singh, Yasmine Galenorn, both Robertses (Nora and Sheila), Angie Fox, and so many others it would be hard to name them all. Then we get outside of romance: Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. LeGuinn, R. Scott Shanks Jr. (a critique partner who is just starting to sell), Lawrence Block, Christopher Moore…I think I’ll stop now.

The why part: great story, sense of humor or deep emotional connection, slightly twisted characters, wonderful wordcraft. Something, in other words, that stands out, but which is supported by solid, craftsmanlike writing and story construction–’cause it doesn’t matter how stand-out one aspect is if the rest of it goes clunk in my brain. That’s harder to find now that I write–I’m so sensitive to craft issues, and what might be small flaws to some, can lool like the Grand Canyon of story holes to me

And my favorite question to ask, since it sets the tone for the contest, what would your Fylgja be? If you had been with Brand during the battle and Cwen had cursed you as well, which animal would have been your guardian spirit and why? What makes this animal so special to you?
At one point in my life, I would have said a horse–I love the image of a powerful horse running with the wind–but I think now I would choose a black jaguar: sleek, sexy, scary.

If you’ve seen my picture, though, you know those are wanna-be characteristics, not ones I actually possess. And since fylgjur chose the person and not the other way around (darn!), I suspect I run, not with wolves or great cats, but with pandas.

What about you? What’s your fylgjur and why?

Lisa Hendrix is the author of Immortal Warrior, the first book in an all-new paranormal historical romance series, The Immortal Brotherhood. Please visit her website, Lisa Hendrix for excerpts, contests, and more information about Lisa and her books. Lisa can also be found on MySpace, Facebook and Goodreads.

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I would like to thank Lisa for taking the time to chat with us today.

Contest time.  Today we’re going to give away a copy of Lisa’s newest novel, Immortal Warrior. It’s a great historical romance with the added bonus of shapeshifters and magic.

So how to you enter…easy, just answer Lisa’s question – What’s your fylgjur and why?. In order to be entered, you have to answer the question.  So don’t be shy. For me, at least according to my hsuband, my fylgjur would be a house cat. A meek, non-aggressive, tabby cat, who is also sometime a scaredy-cat. I could go for that. Although, I would rather have a lion or tiger (love those animals), but I’m not that aggressive.

As always, if you want more chances to win, you can post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.

And I’m adding a new way to get an extra entry…join the Literary Escapism blog group over on Facebook. This gives you three chances to win!

The contest ends at midnight on Nov. 25th.  I’ll determine the winner with help from the Research Randomizer.

About Jackie 3274 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.

8 Comments

  1. What an excellent interview! Thoughtful questions and answers. I enjoy understanding how a writer goes about creating her characters.

    So what would my fylgjur be? I would be a mild mannered dog who gets lots of loving. I could sit around in any room and listen to all the interesting conversations and no one would know that I was taking mental notes for my next book – I would be a novelist by night.

  2. Lisa, I loved the idea of the series skipping forward through time. How cool. And I was intrigued that the heroes will have different levels of awareness in their beast forms. Way to mix it up.

    As for the mental image of writer running with pandas… Snork. I shall have to consult my rune cards and find my inner were-writer.

    (P.S. I need my copy signed!)

  3. Great interview!

    Im pretty sure I would be a cat. A nice cuddly sweet maine coon that loves to be around others but likes the alone quiet time too, loves to play and relax with close friends and loved ones.

  4. My fylgjur would be a dog. Dogs are very devoted, but most importantly is the idea that this is a choice they freely make.

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