Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Review, Interview, and Free Book Giveaway in Celebration of the release of "Winter Solstice Winter" A Viking fantasy novel by E.J. Squires

Winter Solstice Winter cover
Here is my book review: This is an epic tale that takes place in the Northlandic Kingdom around 1007. Two demi-mortals Soren and Lucia are Spiritus Amor lovers destined to be together through-out time. Empress of Darkness, Eiess is determined to rule the land. She just has to kill Lucia the third and final time and darkness will live on forever. King Olav & Queen Maud have raised Princess Lucia knowing her destiny is to stop Eiess. When the Queen dies Lucia feels all alone.
Ailia, a peasant, doesn’t understand the Mares of the Night she keeps having. The Vikings kidnap her and she wakes two years later and can’t remember what has happened to her. Soren saves her and is helping her get home. The attraction between them is strong. Soren doesn’t understand these feelings when he is meant to be with Lucia. Silya, a friend of Soren assist Ailia back home and Soren leaves. Ailia feels dejected that Soren left her so abruptly and she fears she’ll never see him again.
Eiess seized the castle and Lucia is held captive. The King helps her escape but not before he tells her the bitter truth. Her twin sister didn’t die at birth and she needs to find her so they together can stop Eiess. All is revealed and Ailia learns she is a princess and has a great calling. The lies haunt Lucia and she has to decide what her destiny will be.
This was a great story about how true love can even conquer death. It’s an Anglo-Saxon saga mixed with fantasy folklore and dangerous Vikings. The pagan traditions that are followed for the Queen’s funeral are disturbing and dark. There are many profound characters and you are quickly invested in the story. Lucia the princess is raised with all the noble privileges. Ailia is poor and humble. Soren has lived 75 years staying the same age awaiting for his true loves return. With plenty of action and heartache it keeps you reading and wanting to know what will happen next. At the end, the trouble for all those fighting evil is far from over. Eiess’s massive army is released at a very tender moment.  A love scene so fulfilling you will remember it long after.

Here is my interview with author E.J. Squires:

Julie: Thank you E. J.  for taking time out of your busy writing schedule for this interview.

E. J. : Thank you Julie, for having taken the time to read my novel, and for writing such a positive review. I really appreciate you including me in an interview on your website.

Julie: What made you want to write a viking folklore fantasy book?

E. J. : There were many factors that played a role in me writing this Viking folklore fantasy book. I was born and raised for a significant part of my life in Norway. Both my parents are Norwegian, and I still have family living there. Before I started writing the novel, I owned a ballet studio, and I was in the process of setting up a ballet production that I had choreographed called "In Search of the Christmas Star." It was based on a Norwegian folktale (plus I added some things to make it a better adaptation for ballet.) When I wrote the synopsis for the ballet, which was to go in the program for the show, my husband suggested that I write a book about the story. I wrote the book, which was very simple and sold a few copies. While writing that book, I started doing some 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 aspects of their culture, from their mythology to their lifestyle to the beautiful dramatic nature that is in the Scandinavian countries. Before the ballet was finished, (crazy me, putting on a ballet, preparing for Christmas and raising three kids under the age of eight), I started writing the story, and it evolved to become "Winter Solstice Winter."

Julie: What is your favorite book or website to research for your book?

E. J. : I used many websites, but the two I used the most 
were and I also used Wikipedia.

Julie: Do you outline or do you write out-of-order?

E. J. : Well, during my first book, I just started writing without an outline at all. My first draft was over 500 pages long (123 K words!), and had a very long intro, which included more of Queen Maud and King Olav's relationship. I cut out like 100 pages, and then added more about Ailia, the leading character. In my second book in this series, called Summer Solstice Summer, I did an outline, but I keep everything very flexible. If the characters want to go somewhere else, I re-write the outline. I think writing from an outline is much easier.

Julie: What inspired you to independently publish?

E. J. : I had sent quite a few query letters out, but no agent wanted to represent my book. One agent would say the intro is too long, and then I'd cut some. And then I'd get another agent who said that I needed more of an intro, so I decided to do what I wanted and thought fit the story best. Later I read an article on Amanda Hawking, and did some research on authors who had self-published, and I was pleasantly surprised that many well-know authors started out self-publishing. I am the type of person who likes to be in charge of my own career, so the decision to self-publish was an easy one. I will continue to query some agents with some of my other novels, but just because I get rejected by them, doesn't mean I'm going to sit and wait on my laurels!

Julie: What made you want to become a writer?

E. J. : I enjoy expressing myself, and am a little more of an introvert. It gives me the freedom to say what I want, to develop a story the way I want and to hopefully, touch people's lives in a positive way. I love reading, and have always admired great writers who can take these simple words and create an experience for others.So with that in mind, I set out on my own writing journey.

Julie: If you could cast your book into an epic movie and have, let’s say, Peter Jackson produce and direct it; who would you want to cast for Soren? Lucia? Ailia? There are so many great parts we could go on and on.

E. J. : This is a great question, because one of the first things I did was cast this for a movie! So, here are the nominees:

Viggo Mortensen as SorenSoren: Viggo Mortensen
amanda-seyfried-mamma-miaLucia: Amanda Seyfried
Jennifer-Lawrence-4Ailia: Jennifer Lawrence

I also had King Olav cast, Queen Maud, Unni... well, pretty much everyone. I think it would make an awesome movie one day.

Julie: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what was on your play list to get you in the writing mood? Or is music to distracting?

E. J. : I haven't so far, but that's a great suggestion. I'll have to try it some time. (I think if I did listen to it while writing Winter Solstice winter it would be the Braveheart soundtrack or The Gladiator soundtrack.)

Julie: What’s your next book you are working on?

E. J. : I have one more chapter left of my next novel "The 13th Huldra." It is also based in Norse Folklore, but is a contemporary Paranormal Romance in the YA genre (Edgier and lighter than Winter Solstice Winter)
.The 13th Huldra cover

I am also working on a memoir called "Thunderthigh Ballerina" and on "Summer Solstice Summer", the next book after Winter Solstice Winter

summer solstic summer

(No multi-tasking going on here...)


In celebration of the book release on September 1st, E. J. has graciously offered to send one winner either a PDF file or a signed hardcopy. For your chance to win a copy of “Winter Solstice Winter,” please comment on why you’d like to read this epic tale.  

***Make sure in the comment field you leave your email address so you can be contacted if you win.***

BONUS ENTRIES: 1 entry for every post or tweet you share about the contest. (Please include in comment field if posted on Facebook and tweeted about the contest and where I can find it.)

Contest will run until Sunday September 1st Midnight PST. Good Luck!

Stay connected with E. J. via Facebook and Twitter:

Evelyn Squires

Evelyn J. Squires was born in the land of the Midnight Sun. When she  moved to the USA with her family in 1992, she completed High School and studied Comparative Literature at Brigham Young University. She married in 2003, and now resides in Florida with her husband and three children.

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