Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ten Questions From Tara: Interview and Blog Stop with Violetta Rand

Tara: Welcome. You’re here to promote Blind Redemption, Book 3 in the Blind Series, a historical romance. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story (or series)? How did it come to you?

Readers, here's the blurb for you:

The past is something he’d sooner forget…

Aaron McNally hates his past. Banished from his home for betrayal, he trades his tartan for a Norwegian title and sword to win back his honor.

She has a warrior’s heart…

It’s difficult for Kara Dalgaard to act like a lady, even when her father demands it. After the handsome Jarl Aaron McNally arrives at her home recruiting for the king’s army, she’s forced to participate in a cruel deception to humiliate him.

Drawn to his strength and passion, she quickly regrets what she’s done. But duty comes before happiness.

Aaron wants a second chance at life—and Kara is everything he’s dreamed of. But the past always has a way of catching up with you. Will Kara trust him or condemn him to a life of loneliness?

Violetta: Nothing fancy here—I woke up one day and decided to write a Viking series. My inspiration, maybe the Viking culture in general. Brave to a fault, Vikings are one of only three cultures I know of where the men preferred to die in battle and claim their glory in the afterlife.

Not very romantic, but it sets the tone for the incredible tension and passion my characters display. They live in the moment—never taking their lives for granted.

Tara: We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine(s) strong.

Violetta: My heroine, Kara Dalgaard, in fact, runs around with a sword—so this is one of my favorite aspects of her character. She’s no hardened warrior, but she’s uninhibited—desperate to show her family how skilled she is. And with a father like Jarl Erik the Bald, who blames her?

I’ll let a couple paragraphs from my story do the talking here…

She lifted her chin. She wore armor and carried a sword because her father demanded it. He’d never admit it in front of his distinguished guests. “I don’t gallivant around wearing braies and weapons every day,” she defended herself.

“Only because I forbid it,” he countered. “Seeing you now shows me what an injustice I’ve done you. I’ve poorly prepared you for your future. You lack the refinement and elegance most girls half your age possess.”

“Haven’t I proven time and again I can play the role of the jarl’s perfect daughter when it’s expected of me?”

His criticism stung. Ever obedient, she learned to read and write and fight alongside her brothers. Could he fault her for preferring climbing trees over dancing? Reading over embroidery? She enjoyed drying herbs; didn’t that count as cooking?

“Go upstairs and prepare to greet our guests properly,” her father instructed.

She needed a bath. Surely the stable smelled better than she did. “Yes, father.” She stood, then bowed.

Her father coughed. “Bowing as a man only proves my point.” The five men at the table laughed.

Humiliated, she huffed out an apology, curtsied, and ran out of the room.

Tara: Do you see any of yourself in her?

Violetta: Out of all my heroines, Kara and I share many characteristics. Fiercely loyal, determined, a bit crafty, and overall, a smart ass.

Tara: What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search?

Violetta: King Herald Hardrada (king of Norway) died in the Battle of Stamford Bridge, leaving his two sons as co-rulers of Norway. Magnus claimed the north, Olaf the south.

A few years later, King Magnus died of ergot poisoning, leaving his brother as sole ruler.

Olaf’s desire to bring peace to Norway impressed me. He made peace with the pope, built churches, unified his country, founded new cities, established the nobility, and apparently learned to read (believed to be the first Norwegian monarch to do so). No wonder he earned the nickname Olaf the Quiet.

Tara: What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something, ponder a point?

Violetta: My stories are deeply rooted in important historical moments. In Blind Redemption, we catch glimpses of the aftermath of the Battle of Stamford Bridge (four years after). Norway is in political and religious turmoil, one of the two kings is dead. And now King Olaf is tasked with unifying the north and south.

Churches are being vandalized, Olaf is trying to convert the pagans, and the northern jarls are fanatical Odin worshippers. What a time to explore. And Jarl Aaron McNally is caught in the middle—expected to form a new regiment to stop anyone who threatens the construction of the great cathedral in Nidaros.

Learning something about the Viking Age is probably the most important message in my books. Secondly, I’m a great supporter of conflict resolution, Viking style of course.

And finally, the one thing all romance readers want—that happily ever after.

Tara: Now let’s talk about your hero. What draws the heroine to him? Is he based on a real man in your life by any chance?

Violetta: Aaron McNally, the antagonist from Blind Mercy (Book 2), seeks forgiveness for his past misdeeds in Blind Redemption. True redemption is earned, not given. Right? And unlike the other stories, there is no enemies to lovers trope. 

This time our hero must rely on his instincts, honor, kindness, humor, and passion to win the girl of his dreams.

Kara Dalgaard may be young, but she’s determined to find the man she loves instead of marrying out of duty. Sparks fly when she meets Aaron. She’s drawn to his virility and intelligence right away, and turned off by his arrogance. But there’s something about this guy that leaves her feeling unsure of herself. And after they kiss, well, now she really needs to find out what’s going on.

Aaron McNally is very similar to my husband—what parts exactly, I’ll never tell.

Tara: Your book takes place in Norway. If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this country?
Nidaros Cathedral

Violetta: Let me start by saying everywhere your happy feet take you. But west central and northern Norway capture my heart the most. Perhaps it’s because it so closely resembles Alaska—coastal, mountains, fjords, glaciers, wildlife, wide open spaces, and just a bit rustic.

Places to see – the royal complex in Oslo and the Viking Ship Museum.

Tara: A more personal question. What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish before you die? Your main goal?

Violetta: The most important—making sure all the people I love and admire know exactly how I feel.

Second—I’m living it now—growing as a writer, sharing my stories, and mentoring other authors starting out in the business.

Tara: I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets? If so, tell me about them and do provide pictures.

Violetta: Oh yes, the magic question. I’m happy to showcase my babies.Three wonderful dogs and two cats.

Simon and Gretchen my beloved mini-schnauzers and Mason, our loyal Brittany.

As for the damn cats (love saying that), Bella who is undoubtedly my soul mate and Ivan our stoic, yet sweet fellow.


Violetta Rand holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy and a master's degree in Environmental Management. Serving as an environmental scientist in the state of Alaska for over seven years, she enjoys the privilege of traveling to remote places few people have the opportunity to see.

Violetta has been "in love" with writing since childhood. Struck with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, at five, she wrote short stories illustrated by her best friend and sold them in her neighborhood. The only thing she loves more than writing is her wonderful relationship with her husband, Jeff. She enjoys outdoor activities, reading whatever she can get her hands on, music, and losing herself in the worlds she enjoys bringing to life in the pages of her stories.

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