This evening in the Library we have Sarah Dahl, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.
Sarah, you are very welcome. Please introduce yourself:
I live on the edge of the rural German Eifel and write historical fiction primarily set in the Viking age. I’m interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. I don’t focus on the kings and chieftains, but the very people battling to love and survive. The “You & Me” of previous centuries, because to them I can relate most. Find my books on sarah-dahl.com
Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
I’ve always been and still am an avid reader. I always read half a dozen books simultaneously: on the desk and floors: research books and articles, on the desk and nightstand: histfic by authors I adore (try Nicola Griffith), and on the nightstand and my phone, for pure relaxation: some cosy crime or thrillers. I can’t read in exactly my own genre, which I would describe as sensual histfic romance – I’m too close to it. I can’t relax, I analyse, criticise, I am too brutal or too envious, in case the writing is rubbish or really great. It’s a Berufskrankheit (trade disease) as we say 😉
Which genre do you write in and why?
I write historical fiction, mainly set in the Viking age. But why? I was always drawn to the North, its people and violent but advanced culture. Vikings were the most daring and adventurous of people and also the most sophisticated in many aspects of daily life, such as tolerance, equality, and concepts of respect and honour. I’m fascinated by their mindset and world view and the daily challenges they faced at home and abroad, on new territories. Plus Vikings were fearless fighters, which makes them really sexy – so I can play with all those aspects and explore gritty topics in a sensual context.
Please tell us about your latest published work.
I’m releasing sensual short stories in the collection Tales of Freya. It is a collection of short stories set in the Viking Age:
In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives — all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives. So far, I have released five Tales, and the sixth releases July 6:
Tower – Unchained by Love is about young Viking Myskia, who sets out on a revenge mission which turns from bloody to sensual.
Tell us about the story, Sarah:
Young Viking Myskia lands on Irish shores to rescue his lover Adisa from the clutches of his family’s enemy Raven. After a fierce duel, Myskia finds himself in the confined walls of a strange tower, facing Adisa. Their reunion turns out to be very different than what he imagined. Can the passion they once shared break down the walls that have grown between them after months of slavery? Or has she changed in ways he’s unprepared for?
Set in the Viking era, this is a stand-alone, adult read with a HEA.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
Maybe not my writing as such, but definitely my work ethos. Germans show up, and on time. We tick off to-do lists. We also make our own lives hell if we do NOT deliver … and here’s the downside of being freelance; I sometimes hate my inner editor and my inner boss.
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
I have the freedom to be creative and within my own schedule. I can throw in a nap or tend to a sick kid. But I also carry the workload and pressure of releasing on my own: When I get ill (and I was seriously ill with the flu this year) everything gets derailed, and I’m the one who has to get it all back on track, on my own. If I decide not to work on a certain day, it can feel amazing to be that free – but it will come back to haunt me when I’ve been too lenient with myself. So I carry this constant bad conscience and an endless inner to-do list.
Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?
I enjoy social media more than I initially thought: Everyone tells new authors to “get out there” and socialise to promote their work in an nice way. But I found that I love connecting with people on Facebook and Twitter, which are two very different outlets. I see the benefits in both and finally have gotten the hang of them. I try to be professional (no family pictures and rants) and interact with real interest in others and much gratefulness. I found real friends there who I can rely on and who can rely on me – and some of them became “real-life” friends whom I regularly meet. It’s fascinating – as long as you don’t get sucked into the currents too much. A healthy distance is necessary to stay sane, of course. (See Sarah’s social media links below)
Pinterest: (The visual inspiration boards, come in and browse!)
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
Definitely something creative, because in hindsight I’ve never been an office type, even while I was “the boss” at a translation agency … something inside me rebelled against having to be at an exact place at a specific time every day to serve the needs of stressed superiors. I always wanted to be my own boss, and free. To have the freedom to be creative when and how I need to be, at nobody’s short notice — that’s the reason why I chose to go independent … and the German mindset helps getting shit done, and on time. I’m my own worst boss.
It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?
I wouldn’t be able to read … but would grab my real Viking axe, go out and fight like a true Viking before I see Valhalla 😉