You might not be old enough to remember the British Invasion, but you still feel its effects. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks – cultural icons who are somehow still performing today – crashed into the American rock and pop scene, changing music for ever. The Sixties became a counter-cultural force, full of peace. Love and vitality.
Of course, it isn’t the first time Europeans have turned up on North American shores. That all started when Leif Erikson (c. 970 – c. 1020), a Norse explorer from Iceland, was blown off course, centuries before Christopher Columbus. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, tentatively identified with the Norse L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada.
Outland published the first novel in the Vikingverse series, The All Father Paradox, in 2018, and we choose Leif Erikson’s Day (October 9th) as the launch date.
I’m British by birth, but I also have Canadian citizenship – I always felt a sense of kinship with Leif’s wandering, and a deep fascination with the Vikings. From the freezing North to the heat of Spain; from the riches of the East to remote Vinland in the West, the Vikings travelled far, leaving their mark across the world through trading, raiding and discovery.
So, when the second book in the series was ready to publish, I wondered if I couldn’t go one better. Not just an authorial reading in a local bookstore. The key thing for me – all these years after Erikson landed on Canadian shores – was to give something back to the Norse community, whether they wanted it or not. I decided to do Leif’s journey in reverse. A Vinland Invasion!
The proud legacy of the Northmen is celebrated at the annual Jorvik Viking Festival, now in its 36th year, in the north of England. History fans and Viking reenactors immerse themselves in the Norse legacy, with city-wide events exploring the stories of these great travelers. There are living history encampments, talks, tours, and dramatic combat performances – not to mention mead on tap.
After a few emails, I was accepted into the Festival Fringe program, to be hosted by the Travelling Man store. I was also due to be accompanied by fellow Canadian author, Jordan Stratford of Wollstonecraft Detective Agency fame (whose own Norse novel, Winter by Winter, comes out in March 2020). Sadly, Stratford had to drop out at the last minute, leaving me to voyage on alone.
I’ll let the photographs attached to this blog speak for themselves. This year, the Festival suffered from the wiles of Loki, inclement weather put paid to the Battle Spectacular that serves as a Grand Finale. But I did get to meet a whole horde of people who are brimful of enthusiasm for the period, and who relish authenticity and adrenaline.
The question remains how to top all that when I finish the trilogy. Does Asgard take bookings?