Summer Solstice Summer
Book two in A Viking Blood Saga
This is an epic tale with dragons, shape-shifters,
darkelves and conquering Vikings. If you’ve enjoyed the
history channel “Vikings” show and the “Lord of the
Rings” series you’ll love the world that E.J. Squires has
created. The story is filled with action and heart
breaking moments but a passionate love story is at the
heart of it all.
E.J. Squires has graciously allowed me to interview her again and is offering a free book to one lucky winner. Read the interview and then comment for a chance to win.
JMW: Where did you get your idea for The Viking Blood Saga?
EJS: I owned a ballet studio for six years, and usually would write the story lines of the ballets for the program. One year we performed “In Search of the Christmas Star,’ an old Norwegian folktale. My husband said I should write a book on it and sell it to our parents in the shop, so I did. From that, I became increasingly interested in my Viking ancestors (I am Norwegian) and started writing a story. While writing the book, I did research on the Vikings and was so inspired and intrigued by their culture (and my crazy ancestors) that I wanted to write something more substantial that tied in all the aspects of their culture, from the mythology, to their lifestyle to the beautiful and dramatic nature that is in the Scandinavian countries. The story evolved into the book now known as “Winter Solstice Winter,” the first book in the Viking Blood Saga.
JMW: Do you ever experience writer’s block? What do you do to get over it?
EJS: I do, but not for very long. I read a quote once, and though I can’t remember who said it, it always works for me. The author said that when a writer gets writer’s block it means you are headed in the wrong direction. Go back a few pages or chapters, and head in a completely different direction. It always works for me. I also like to exercise and when I’m on the treadmill at the gym, I think about the story. If I am stuck, usually the answer comes within minutes.
JMW: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
EJS: There are so many amazing authors and books out there. I think the initial book series I really got hooked on was “The Legend of the Ice People” by the Scandinavian author Margit Sandemo. It is a 47 book series. Her strength lies in her imagination, and in her world building. The series is addicting if you are into Norse, historical settings and mysticism. “Cry the Beloved Country” is also an amazing book. It is slow paced, but so rich in poetry, symbolism and speaks of the human should and the power of forgiveness. I love it. Most recently, one of my favorite books is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, and “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. I also enjoy anything by Anthony Robbins or Joel Osteen, both motivational speakers. When I feel like my writing is going nowhere, and when I get down on myself, it helps motivate me to continue.
JMW: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
EJS: I am self-published, and have taken a break from querying agents. I do, however, plan to query “Trepidation,” the White Witch Black Warlock series once it is fully edited. But until then I will keep selling on Amazon. I think what I have learned as an author is to not query anyone before your book is 100% complete. Make sure the first 3 chapters are as strong as they can be. And get a great editor. I just found a really great editor through http://www.odesk.com. There are some people out there who claim to be editors, but in reality, they are just proof-readers. An excellent editor will help you draw out the characters, help you set the pacing of your story, point out inconsistencies, problems and so much more. It is sometimes painful to have to go back and rewrite several chapters, but in the end, it is so worth it. Also, find a great cover designer and make sure your book is properly formatted for kindle if you plan to publish on Amazon.
JRW: If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
EJS: It is hard to start something new, because you don’t know what you don’t know. But like I said in the previous answer, I wish someone had told me what to look for in an editor. And I would have waited to query until the book was complete. I would also have learned as much as I could about writing before I started to write the book. But then again, maybe the book never would have been written had I done too much research because I would have gotten so bogged down by all the details.
JRW: How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
EJS: The best way I have found to get the word out is to offer free copies of your books, either by asking book bloggers, or readers in general to read and post a review on Amazon or goodreads. If people can see that the book is good, and the reviews are good, then you will have sales. It is really hard to sell a book that has zero reviews. I have paid for advertising on goodreads, have had a book trailer made and have given away free copies just so people would read. Also, write more than one book, preferably start a series. I had very few sales with Winter Solstice Winter, the first book in the Viking Blood Saga, but once I got the second book out in the series, sales picked up. I read somewhere that most series don’t start selling until the third book is out. So writing a series is a good way to market. If readers like your first book, they will purchase the next one and the next one.
JRW: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
EJS: All the events are just imaginary and all the characters too, though I did use some names of some of my family members. Like my mom’s real name is Unni, and it is also Ailia’s adoptive mother’s name. And I have a sister named Silje (similar to Silya in the saga). The places of the names are based on Norwegian cities, like Bergendal is a version of Bergen, and Trollsoe is close to Tromsoe.
JRW: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
EJS: Write something every day and find an excellent editor. Normally I shoot for 3,000 words, but some days, like if my kids are sick, I struggle to even get 500 words down. But some days where all the kids are in school and I am on a roll I have even gotten up to 10,000 words (my eyes were burning after that though). But keep writing, and don’t be afraid to re-write. Also, if someone criticizes your work, don’t take it personally. Usually there is something to learn from the criticism, and sometimes there is not. I had one lady say that in Winter Solstice Winter I was being racist because I called Christ the “White Christ”. But it was actually a term the Vikings used because the early Christians would dress in white when they were to be baptized. People will say what they will, but in the end, if you are happy with your work and you gave it 110% (and then re-wrote it a couple more times), then that is what should count. Write to impress yourself. Oh, and did I mention get an excellent editor?
JRW: Can you tell us about your upcoming books?
EJS: I have three books to be released in the next four months.
The first book is Wraithsong—the first book in the ‘Desirable Creatures’ series. Sonia is a senior in high school and has always known she is a little bit different than her friends. She has faint silver markings on her back, never misses a goal in any sport and has a mother who has the ability to control others. She finds out she is a Huldra, an ancient Norse mythological being, and that she will on her 18th birthday lose all her humanness and turn into a full-fledged Huldra. There’s a love story and it also lots of suspense, mystery and action and comes out March 8th.
The other book is called Trepidation and is the first book in the White Witch Black Warlock series. 18-year old Luna Livingston has lived her whole life in Camp Salem—a concentration camp for witches and warlocks built shorty later the “War on Witches.” Millions of people fall into a coma, and they think it is some type of a plague at first. But when the government cannot cure the disease, they turn to the witches for help. The disease is actual a curse that the evil warlock Rothbart has cast. Luna, her friend (and love interest) William are recruited to help break the curse. Luna soon learns through an ancient prophecy that she is the only one who can defeat Rothbart. But what the prophecy also states is that Luna will lose her freedom, her family and her friends. Desperate to avoid losing the ones she lives, she takes matters into her own hands. This book comes out March 31st.
And then finally “Fall of the Nine Realms” will be released June 30th. It is the continuation of Summer Solstice Summer, where Ailia, Soren and her family travel thought the nine realms, racing against Lucia and Erik to find the nine pieces of the Aesira Jewel. The book has a shocking ending. And then on December 31, 2014, Ragnarok Spring, the last book in the Viking Blood Saga will be released, where the final battles for Midgard will take place.
JRW: Movie casting time: In our previous interview you said your main characters in Winter Solstice Winter, if cast for a movie were:
Give me some of the new characters from Summer Solstice Summer. For instance, who would play the Viking leader Erik?
Now that’s a movie I would like to watch! Thanks to E.J. Squires for a great interview and all the helpful advice on writing.
Here’s your chance to win a copy of Summer Solstice Summer (Your choice of either PDF or paperback-US residents only).
Make a comment before midnight PST on Thursday, February 27th (SEASON PREMIERE OF “VIKINGS” SECOND SEASON ON HISTORY CHANNEL.) http://www.history.com/shows/vikings
***Make sure in the comment field you leave your email address so you can be contacted if you win.***
Follow E.J. Squires at
Here’s my previous interview with E.J. Squires: https://juliemartinwallace.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/book-review-interview-and-free-book-giveaway-in-celebration-of-the-release-of-winter-solstice-winter-a-viking-fantasy-novel-by-e-j-squires/