The dedication in Viking Academy reads: "To Olaug - thanks for showing me those rocks in Norway."
Because that series would have looked vastly different if it weren't for my dear friend Olaug, and a side trip involving a cluster of rocks. #Truth
Let me explain . . .
Once upon a time (last summer), I visited a magical place (Norway) with a fun-loving octogenarian (Olaug). Olaug led me on an adventure-filled day that included an impromptu two-hour hike, during which I learned "want to see the woods behind the cabin?" meant "bring a water bottle and possibly a lunch, because we are going far, my friend . . ."
(above: pretty barn at least two miles into the woods behind Olaug's cabin)
(below: pretty corn field even further into the woods behind Olaug's cabin)
A shopping trip, during which I was advised that Norway in summer is THE place for discounted outerwear (who knew?),
a trip to the fish market,
and a visit to a thousand year old church.
Olaug is spry, y'all. #LifeGoals
After being scared out my wits by what turned out to be a perfectly harmless cat . . .
A not-at-all-tired Olaug and I headed back to her cabin. On the way, we passed a circle of large rocks.
"What's that?" I asked.
"The Ting. An ancient Viking meeting spot," Olaug said confidently.
"NO WAY. LET'S GO SEE IT!" I screeched.
But Olaug waved her hand and said, "The fish is getting warm."
And so we drove home. All through dinner, pieces of a Viking story I'd been playing with knitted themselves together in my head. Turns out seeing an actual Viking site does wonders for the creative process. :)
Olaug left to visit friends the next morning, leaving me to ask her neighbors about the "Ting." Nobody knew anything about an ancient Viking meeting spot, but they did know about a nearby Iron Age graveyard . . . one that was made up of a circle of large rocks. And while google knew diddly squat about the alleged "Ting," it did have a few things to say about the "Thing" - a Viking meeting ground that may or may not have involved rocks.
There you go.
By the time I made it back to those rocks, Saga and Erik's adventure was almost fully formed. And as I wrote their story, I kept the picture of those rocks up on my computer to remind me of the day Viking Academy finally came together . . . and of the fun always have with my adventure-loving friend.
Viking Academy is live today on Apple Books. It releases everywhere on May 21st.