J; Thank you so much, Giles, for being a guest on my blog.
Thank you for hosting me
J; I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of Where Blood Runs Cold come from?
Reading the poems of Seamus Heaney for A-Level wove a spell on me. From that moment I knew I wanted to write professionally. I went off to university to do a degree in English Language and Literature but dropped out after just a few months to join a pop group. It was an incredible diversion, packed with extraordinary experiences. But, after four hit records and several years in the music industry, I got back on track with my ambition to become a writer. In 2003, I undertook a cross country skiing and igloo building trip in Norway. It gave me the idea for a thriller about a parent and child being hunted through the snowbound mountains. By the time I got round to writing it, I was living in New York and Raven: Blood Eye was on submission. Luckily, Transworld (Penguin Random House) offered me a publishing deal for my Viking trilogy and so I stuck my snowy thriller in a drawer and have been writing historical novels ever since. Then, after Lancelot and Camelot, which were both big, emotionally draining books, I needed to get my teeth into something fresh and different. It was the perfect time to dig my thriller out of the snow. After eleven historical novels, Where Blood Runs Cold is my first contemporary story and I’m excited to send it out into the world.
J; How much research did you need to do before writing Where Blood Runs Cold (without giving the plot away!)?
Well, I’ve spent time in the mountains of Norway, and as already mentioned, I got the idea from a ski touring trip, so much of it stems from experience. There’s always research, of course, but for this book it was a piece of cake compared with writing a historical novel, where hours of the day can be spent researching. With this book it was more like, what’s the most popular hybrid SUV in Norway? Or, what’s a popular brand of snowshoes? Or could a drone fitted with a thermal camera detect a body beneath the snow? These questions are easy enough to Google, whereas the historical stuff requires a library of reference books.
J; Who would you like to see playing the parts of Erik and Sofia Amdahl if Where Blood Runs Cold was made into a movie (I hope it is!)
Viggo Mortensen would make a brilliant Erik. As would Alexander Skarsgård. Sofia is more difficult to cast because her age is more specific, and I don’t know many young teenage actresses. Someone like Bella Ramsey (Lyanna Mormont in ‘Game of Thrones’ and star of the forthcoming series ‘The Last of Us’) would be good. As it happens, there’s already serious interest in the film adaptation of Where Blood Runs Cold, so perhaps we’ll need to think about this sooner rather than later. Would be a nice problem to have.
J; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader, or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
I didn’t read books as a child. The first book I read for pleasure was the Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore, which my mum bought me when I was thirteen and off school for several weeks with glandular fever. It blew my mind! Funny to think that if I hadn’t been poorly, I might not be a writer today. As for TV, I loved the series ‘Robin of Sherwood’. I still sometimes play the soundtrack by Clannad. As soon as I hear Robin (The Hooded Man), I’m a boy again.
J; What is your favourite book which you read in 2021?
The Gates of Athens by Conn Iggulden. Conn really knows what it is to be human, and this gives his writing such wisdom. Iconic figures from history, men such as Themistocles and Xanthippus emerge fully fleshed. Conn reveals their motivations and hopes, their fears, jealousies, and ideals, so that although they died two thousand five hundred years ago, they live and breathe again between the pages. If that wasn’t enough, there’s the prose itself, which is at once economical and beautiful. I was transported. I felt the Mediterranean sun on my face, smelled the sea on the air, stood on the rocky outcrop of the Acropolis, watched the hustle and bustle of Athenian life. I cared for the characters, and I wanted to cast my vote in the Assembly! It was all so vivid in my mind’s eye.
J; Which book that you have written are you the proudest of?
I’m most proud of Lancelot. I wrote that book whilst grieving the death of my father and it was hard. And yet, something of my soul poured into that book. My editor once said something along the lines of, ‘Giles, if you got knocked down tomorrow by the no. 27 bus, it would be OK because you’d have written Lancelot.’ In a way, I agree with him.
J; Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?
My favourite author is Cormac McCarthy. I’ve never come across another writer with his powers of description. Books like All the Pretty Horses, Blood Meridian, and The Road are stunning examples of the craft. However, The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell holds a special place for me. That trilogy inspired me like nothing else, and I’m a huge Bernard Cornwell fan. When he gave me a cover quote for my first novel, I was overjoyed.
J; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
I would go back to witness The Battle of Hastings. I’m sure that it would make for a traumatic and hideous spectacle, and I’d probably suffer PTSD after, but it was such a momentous battle, and given that the historical record presents it as a close-run thing, I’d be fascinated to see just how close it was. Because the Norman invasion had a huge impact on the social, cultural & economic life of the kingdom of England. The Normans brought Latin and French, castles, and wine. Culturally, whereas England had looked north to Scandinavia, now it looked to the south-east and continental Europe. The Battle of Hastings was one of those pivotal moment in history.
J; If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
Harald Hardrada, because he was the greatest warrior of his age and I’d want to hear about all his battles. Beyoncé, because she’s a goddess. Elvis Presley, because his charisma would light up the room. King Charles II, because, as Horrible Histories puts it, he was the King of Partying.
J; If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d like to visit Moscow in winter. Maybe not right now, but some time. I’d also like to go to Alaska and drink beer in small town bar. Cold places appeal to me. As does beer.
J; What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My grandma told me not to hide my light under a bushel. This was good advice for the painfully shy boy I was.
J; Do you have a hidden talent?
No, because of the aforementioned advice! Although, new readers might not know that I can throw an axe or two.
J; Are you currently writing another book?
I’m currently writing Arthur, the third book in my Arthurian Tales. I also have a cracking idea for another thriller, but that’s for another time.
You can find Giles Kristian’s website HERE