"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
June 2000 Issue
Holy Thor, Vikings and More!
Humor has become a hallmark of Sandra Hill's books. She started out with Vikings, tried a medieval knight, moved into the Old South, then the California gold fields, on to modern-day Manhattan, Memphis, Maine and Galveston. But the one element that has remained consistent in all her books is the laugh-out-loud humor.
Sandra's first book came out in October 1994, and since then she has published eleven novels and had novellas in three anthologies, all through Dorchester Publishing.
Married for almost thirty years (to the same man!!!), Sandra is the mother of four sons. Living with five males (not to mention a male German Shepherd the size of a small horse) is enough to make any woman develop a sense of humor, Sandra often says. Either that, or go mad.
The most gratifying thing to Sandra has been the amazing reader response to her books. Almost 2,000 readers have taken the time to write to her over the past five years (some of them repeatedly) to tell her how much her books have touched their lives. This is the one thing Sandra never expected when she first started writing...the need for laughter in a world that is becoming increasingly stressful and sometimes downright dreary. She is only too happy to help and promises her fans that her well of humor is not about to run dry for a long, long time.
An Interview with Sandra Hill
PNR: You have written six Viking stories to date. Why did you choose Vikings?
Sandra Hill: I had been working on a family genealogy for years. On my father's side of the family tree, we can trace his lineage all the way back, directly, to the Viking Rolf (or Hrolf or Rollo), the first Duke of Normandy, and possibly even earlier than that. I thought it would be a neat way of continuing my genealogy work, while researching early Viking history for a romance novel. Actually, my ancestor, Rolf, plays a small part in my first book, THE RELUCTANT VIKING. And there's another reason why I chose Vikings. These men were incredible. They were taller than the average man, good looking, cleaner (they bathed more often), fierce fighters, great lovers. At the same time, they were proud family men who cherished their laws, their integrity and a good laugh (even at themselves). They were not the rapers and pillagers that biased priest-historians of that time portrayed. Really, you gotta love a Viking man.
PNR: These books are actually two individual series are they not? In the first series two of these are time travel, two are straight historicals? Tell us about these books and why alternate between sub-genres?
Sandra Hill: Actually, both of those series are mixed. Only two of the books are straight historicals (THE TARNISHED LADY and THE BEWITCHED VIKING), as will be THE BLUE VIKING, next February. All the rest are either historical time-travels or contemporary time-travels. There is no particular reason for alternating those time frames and genres, except for one thing. The diehard time-travel fan also reads other genres, but the diehard historical or contemporary romance reader often won't try a time-travel. So, this was my attempt to draw some of those readers into time-travels, as in, "Gee, I really liked your Viking historical. Maybe I'll give your Viking time-travel a try, even though I usually don't read time-travels." It has worked for me, at least on a small scale.
PNR: Often readers tend to gravitate to favorite types of stories, historical, Regency, paranormal, have any of your readers found it troublesome to have the two fictional realities (historical vs. time-travel) mix and be intertwined?
Sandra Hill: Humor is the continuous thread through all of my books. (Sizzling sex, too. But most readers comment on the humor.) People don't seem to object to the changing genres, but they do have favorites. Some prefer the Viking books. Some prefer the Old South books. And I've been pulling in a lot of new readers with my contemporary novel, THE LOVE POTION.
PNR: Are the time travel Vikings as popular sale wise as the historical Viking books?
Sandra Hill: It's hard to say because there are other factors that enter into the equation, like early book vs. later book, cover, promotion, publication month, etc. I will say this, THE BEWITCHED VIKING, a straight historical, hit both the USA TODAY and the Waldenbooks bestseller lists. On the other hand, the sales numbers on THE LAST VIKING, which had huge word-of-mouth sales, appear to be about the same.
PNR: Have you had any negative response to the fact that the hero throughout most of THE RELUCTANT VIKING, Thork, died? Romance readers love that HEA and they really didn't get much time to love Ruby's "other" husband Jack.
Sandra Hill: You know, this question really surprises me. It's only recently that I've become aware that some readers reacted adversely to that ending. I've only had a handful of people point it out to me. Still, let me be perfectly clear...Jack and Thork are the same person. I never would have killed off the hero of the book, ala Jude Deveraux. However, I must not have done a good job if some readers failed to see that these two were one and the same.
PNR: Time works in strange ways in your stories. Ruby's daughter goes back to the past in the Outlaw Viking to find her hero, who was a grown man of about eighteen when she was conceived and is now in his thirties as is she. The half-brothers who were born prior to her conception are now younger than she is. What is your concept of time travel? Some folks see time as circular (all times occurring simultaneously), others as linear (a highway with multiple lanes that can be changed at will or an elevator with many floors).
Sandra Hill: I do not write science fiction. I write romance. My editor and I both believe that the romance reader is not interested in all the scientific reasons why time can be altered, or if there are time flaps or whatever, as long as the writer (narrator) explains that it is so. This explanation might not work for everyone. For example, I can recall Eugenie Riley saying one time that she was working on a time-travel where the heroine walks around a corner and is suddenly in another time-period. Another author mentioned the possibility of time-travel occurring when the heroine walks through the revolving door at Bloomingdale's. Both of those work for me. I don't need the lengthy explanations of how, but I want to know why it happened.
PNR: Your second series is one in which the Viking heroes time travel to the present to find their mates. That would be The Last Viking and the soon to be released Truly, Madly Viking. What made you decide to have these Vikings time travel rather than their heroines?
Sandra Hill: I decided to try a contemporary time-travel, just for something different, and was surprised to find out that I loved it. I say that I was surprised because my first love is love historical romance, and an historical time-travel would be a natural preference for me.
PNR: Do you find that bringing the heroes forward adds to the humor aspect of the story?
Sandra Hill: It's a different kind of humor. And, once again, it's a way of pulling new readers into the time-travel genre. Some fans who had only read contemporary novels before tried this book of mine and were hooked into trying others.
PNR: In TRULY MADLY VIKING, the hero arrives in a rather interesting state and winds up in a mental hospital under the tender mercies of the heroine/psychologist. While the possibilities for humor abound, I am assured by my editor, who is an avid reader of your work, that the issues of the hero's grief and his fellow patients troubles were handled with amazing sensitivity both in the writing in general and in the way the hero interacted with the other characters. Did you find this difficult to do?
Sandra Hill: You make a good point here. Let me ramble a bit. The idea for TRULY, MADLY VIKING came from a fan who happens to be a psychiatrist. She asked, "Why don't you write a book sometime where the hero is a gorgeous Viking hunk who lands in a mental hospital?" Well, that's exactly what I did...sort of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," without Jack Nicholson. As to the question of whether this book might offend those readers who have direct experience with serious mental problems, that's a real possibility. We were very careful not to include any patients with "dark" elements, like rapists or serial killers or child molesters. Even so, my editor and I have discussed this and decided that readers who like my kind of novel will surely understand and not be offended. Just as we have discussed in my previous novels the use of a God with a sense of humor. Hopefully, the reader who would be offended by this kind of thing wouldn't be reading my books. Just to be safe, though, I put a disclaimer in the author's note at the end of TRULY, MADLY VIKING.
I understand that
there will be another addition to the first Viking Series, entitled
THE BLUE VIKING? This Viking is a recurring character is he not? The
title sounds intriguing; can you explain why the Viking is Blue? Based
on your sense of humor, I'm guessing that it's not because he is sad
Sandra Hill: Nope, Rurik is anything but blue. He is a secondary character in THE BEWITCHED VIKING. A witch had put a "curse" on him, which resulted in a permanent, jagged blue mark down the center of his face. He's madder than hell in THE BLUE VIKING. After five years of living with the mark, which makes him the butt of many Norse jokes, he's come to Scotland looking for Maire the Witch. I adore Rurik...my usual tortured hero with a sense of humor. And the cover for this book is gorgeous, right down to the blue mark.
PNR: Have you plans to continue writing Viking tales beyond The Blue Viking or have you other plans? I understand that you have another series of time travel novels. FRANKLY, MY DEAR, and SWEETER SAVAGE LOVE are satirical spoofs on classic works are they not? DESPERADO, another time travel ties in as well and also a recent contemporary novel, the Love Potion, right? How did this idea come to you?
Sandra Hill: I do plan to continue writing Viking novels, though I may mix some other books in there as well, such as a sequel to FRANKLY, MY DEAR and SWEETER SAVAGE LOVE. In addition, I'm getting an incredible response to my contemporary novel, THE LOVE POTION, and almost all the readers are asking for stories with the other two brothers. When I wrote that book, I had not intended any sequels, but I'm not ruling that out now. I adore Southern Louisiana, and that's evident in my books. As much as I love Vikings, I could never give that up, totally.
MAD ABOUT YOU
TRULY, MADLY, VIKING - His boat off-course, distracted by a randy she-whale whose infatuation had somehow thrust him into the twenty-first century, Jorund Ericsson had cause to question his surroundings. And though the befuddled Viking thought he'd found heaven when he caught sight of the comely wench with the man-hair and the kiss-some lips, the lovely doctor simply thought him crazy. And Jorund relaized the only thing that had driven him to the edge was her enticing figure.
He skyrocked from the water and into Maggie's life: all senewy muscles in a flawlessly proporltioned body a swath of long blond hair swept back from his brow. His claim to be a Viking from the tenth century made her smile. But it wann't the laughter that caused her stomach to flutter when the Hercules look-alike claimed her lips. And soon he had her believing his story, thought questioning her own sanity. The the psychologist relized there was another possibility: Neither of them was truly mad---but both of them were truly,madly in love.
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