Name Olivia Norem

Age Old enough to know which bad decisions yield delicious results, and young enough to carry them out.

Where are you from

I grew up in the Chicago area of the United States. At 17, I moved to Florida to attend the University of Tampa, majoring in Political Science. I’ve lived in Tampa so long, I’m considered a native. A generous feline shares her home with me and my tall, dark, handsome (and wondrously supportive) husband. Between us we have four children, two sons and two daughters.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

My new release, His Viking Bride, just published on Amazon in September. It’s a fun romance, loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew.

Firewater, book one in my Brothers In Justice western series, and Wicked Wicked Wilderness, a stand-alone novel of erotica, will both be released before the end of the year.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

The “when” is easy, I wrote my first story when I was six, “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Die” and even created a dimensional, construction-paper cover and bound it in book form. The “why” is a bit more difficult. I guess it was simply a compulsion, a natural thing to do. With more than twenty years in sales, advertising, and marketing; writing has always been necessary – business writing. After leaving corporate life and closing a small business in 2015, I decided that summer, I would finally write novels full time.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

At fourteen, my official “title” as author came when my short story “The Program” was published in a local town literary journal. I think I still have it somewhere, as this was just a tad before the internet existed. My poem, Televised Side Effects, won 3rd place in the 2016 Writers-Editors Network International Writing Competition, so that has also stamped me as official.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

His Viking Bride is one of nine novels I began to work on in 2015. No, I can’t seem to work on a singular project, but rather jump back and forth between ideas and inspiration. I was doing research on the Nordic region and history for my novel Aftermath of Five, and Viking lore fascinated me. The deeper I looked, the more captivated I became. His Viking Bride just seemed to spill out of me, hence it is the first release this year.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I vacillate between descriptive and narrative, often using them in support of each other. Specifically, I love conjoined sentences and abrupt, one-word paragraphs to convey mood and action. In other words, I use style to coax a deeper emotional response from the reader, and impart an additional layer to my characters – a connection for the reader to the character’s headspace and personality, as it were. According to my editors and beta readers, I abhor commas.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Ah, Fiona…titles. The bane of my existence. I can bang out fifty-thousand, a hundred-thousand words without a problem, but make me title the work? [Shudders]

Honestly, titles are an involved process in our house. I usually interrupt my husband from whatever he is doing (including peaceful slumber), and we brainstorm potential titles. Please keep in mind he has already suffered through endless recitations of draft after draft after draft, so he’s familiar with the general story; either that, or he is a very good actor.

His suggestions range from witty to ridiculous, to absolute, pure gold. For example, a story I was working on involving high-end racehorses, needed a title. He suggested “Won Horse Town” and “Who’s Hoof is it Anyway.” [Laughs] While neither of them made the cut, I find working in a vacuum on titles is impossible for me.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Regarding His Viking Bride, the overall message is true love, no matter what the circumstances, cannot be denied.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

His Viking Bride is pure fiction, yet the characters and their feelings are all based on either personal experience or events from people I know. You can’t describe a soul-stealing kiss in the cold moonlight unless you’ve had one. Æstrid’s seasickness in the longboat was taken from memories of a diving trip I took once in Belize, and Veleif’s axe-throwing scene was loosely based on my husband’s past dart tournaments. I think it is critical a good writer experiences as much of life as possible, yet is able to adapt personal occurrences into their characters.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?

Literary influences include:

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein, Ancient Evenings, Norman Mailer, and A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

A mentor? That one is easy, The Art of War, Sun-Tzu. The lessons here are applicable in every aspect of life.

Fiona: Are there any new authors who have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Currently, I am a huge fan of Grace Goodwin and her Interstellar Bride Series of books. Ms. Goodwin works on a formula that never disappoints. She balances her dominant heroes with just the right amount of attitude and good intentions. Her heroines are strong, snarky and their inner voice expresses what you yourself would feel. As she continues to release books, her writing style gets better and better. Go Grace!

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I attend a few monthly open mic events, but the Safety Harbor Writers and Poets is run a bit differently. Comment cards are encouraged and while, at times, I feel out of place among poets and performers, I am ever fueled to drive myself even more fiercely, encouraged by my peers. The response to my work has been invaluable as I can experience first-hand if my excerpt resonates or not with the audience.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

Yes. I write full-time now and it is my career.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I wouldn’t change the story, but I would change my process. I would definitely hire a full-time editor.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I’d love to!

Sample Chapter

His Viking Bride

By Olivia Norem

Veleif turned toward the sack as a taunting smile lifted the corner of his mouth. He couldn’t help but admire her resolve. Weaponless and securely bound, Æstrid was still spouting threats. He sliced the ties from the top of the sack and stepped back. With his hands folded behind his back, he prepared for her cyclonic rage. Once she realized it was him in the cottage, instead of Arnor, he had no doubts her full fury would rival that of an unleashed Kraken.

Æstrid thrashed wildly at the tangled fabric of the sack. Her hair had cascaded loose from its braid and she shoved the tangle frantically back from her face. Her eyes widened in shock as Veleif gave her a mocking bow of his head.

“You!” she cried.

“Tainting my water isn’t enough, my lady? Now you wish to blind me as well?” Veleif tsked

In the next instant she went livid with rage. Æstrid sprung like a wild beast, forgetting her legs were still trapped inside the woven bag. She tripped headlong into Veleif, who caught her hard against him, just in time to save her before she crashed to the floor.

“Let me go you whelp of a bastard!” Æstrid screamed and wormed ineffectively at the twisted sack imprisoning her feet.

“Feed my eyes to the dogs you said,” Veleif taunted as he pressed closer, his voice laced with amusement. His arms tightened around her waist as he leaned back, lifting her enough that her toes skimmed the floor. Between the jollity in his voice and the evidence of his arousal against her thigh, Æstrid’s temper crested beyond reason.

She kicked in earnest, trying to free the wicked sack. Stamping the thing out of the way, her knee shot up and struck him hard in the groin. Veleif’s arms dropped immediately as he doubled over in a groaned pain.

Æstrid stumbled backward; momentarily surprised she’d gained the upper hand

“You… hell-bound…vixen,” Veleif choked, his eyes narrowed dangerously beneath his dark brows. “I warn you, Æstrid. Cease this foolishness.”

“Foolishness?” her voice pitched, “yes, I was a fool. A fool to believe your lies.” A shriek of frustrated rage escaped her. Seeing him at a disadvantage, Æstrid continued to press the attack.

Grasping at anything she could lay her hands on, Æstrid seized upon a half-broken shield and chucked it hard in his direction. Veleif flung his arm upward to ward off the missile. The shield clattered noisily to the floor.

“Lies?” he fumed, defensively, “what madness has seized you, wench?”

Veleif ducked as a battered pot sailed past his head. A low, warning growl rumbled in his chest, as he crouched low. Æstrid sprung lightly across the room, grabbing a hilt from one of a pair of discarded short swords.

“You said you had no ship to take me home. Yet at dawn, one sailed East!” she raged. She drew back her arm with a snarl and let the thing fly. The sword, woefully unbalanced, missed him wide. It clanged and rattled behind him in the hearth, sending a scatter of sparks over the floor.

Veleif jumped to stamp out the glowing embers. Æstrid hurled the second sword, this time catching him in the shin. With a pained grunt, Veleif bent to rub his leg.

Æstrid glanced about wildly. The cottage was so crowded; there was no clear path to the door. Veleif could easily cut off her escape. He maneuvered toward her and Æstrid launched a clay vessel at him. He dodged it in time to have it splinter behind him on the floor.

“Cool your temper, woman! I brought you here to talk,” Veleif thundered darkly. Her hand paused above her head, ready to throw another earthen pot at him.

“Talk?” Æstrid retorted harshly. “You had me stuffed in a sack!”

“Merely a small retaliation for the pranks you played in my chamber,” Veleif smirked and cocked a brow. She stopped suddenly, the wake of her skirts swirled around her as gaped at him. If she didn’t know better, the blackguard seemed to be enjoying himself.

“Arghh! I hate you! Liar! Whoreson!” Æstrid shrieked with renewed rage and sent a barrage of pottery toward him.

Shielding his face with his arm, Veleif ducked toward her. Æstrid feinted to her left as Veleif followed her movements. Seeing her deception, he spread his hands wide to cage her in. Darting to her right, she grabbed a shelf with strength born of rage and heaved it with all her might.

Veleif took the brunt of the shelf with his shoulder as broken wood, metal bits and earthenware rained down on him. Æstrid scrambled past, twisting away, but Veleif’s fist snaked out and grabbed a handful of her skirt. Veleif yanked her backward with a growl, as her foot skidded on a broken chair leg. She fell face first to the ground with a hard thunk! A searing pain shot up her leg, and Æstrid couldn’t help but cry out at the contact.

Ignoring her sob, Veleif leapt on her in an instant, pinning her to the floor with his weight. Æstrid screamed, her fingers desperate to grab hold of anything to use as a weapon.

Outside the cottage, Arnor turned a quizzical look at the crash and wails coming from beyond the door. Taar passed close enough to shoot a puzzled look at Arnor. The big Viking smoothed his beard and shrugged. Taar moved closer. “

Problems, Arnor?” he called out.

“No, Taar,” Arnor assured, and waved him off. Æstrid’s scream pierced the air and both men visibly winced. Taar hurried close, his face fraught with worry.

“But, it’s a woman’s scream,” Taar worried, and pointed nervously.

“Be off with you, Taar. It’s only Veleif…” Arnor leaned in, conspiratorially. “Wooing the lady Æstrid.” He gave Taar a knowing look and smiled as the man straightened in surprise.

“From the sounds of it, I don’t think either one is wooing,” Taar joked, “more like warring.”

Both men laughed as Taar trudged away through the drifts, promising to bring Arnor a skin of ale.

Veleif straddled her back and grabbed her hair in one fist with a devilish laugh.

“You’re rash with madness, wench. Calm yourself before I seek more fleshly pursuits,” Veleif panted.

Aestrid’s arms windmilled frantically as she tried to loosen Veleif’s grip from her hair. The shoulder of her gown caught on a protruding nail in the floor. As Æstrid fought to avoid his clutches, the fabric parted with a rending tear, baring her shoulder and leaving nothing but the soft linen gown beneath to cover her breasts.

Veleif exhaled an annoying breath and lifted up just enough to roll her to her back. Seeing her breasts strain against the thin cloth, combined with the sparks shooting from her eyes, he was gripped with lust of an unfathomable depth. The woman was wild, irascible, and utterly bewitching. He craved to experience the full onslaught of her passion without breaking her spirit. This quicksilver realization catapulted him on a headlong course to tame this creature.

Sensing a change as Veleif’s gaze wandered, Aestrid let loose a mortified gasp. She shielded her torn bodice with her arm. “You black-hearted pig,” Aestrid spat, “brute!” “You shouldn’t give in to your anger, Aestrid. You will lose every battle, every time. That’s your first lesson,” he said gravelly.

“Lesson? As if I could learn anything from you, Kollsvein,” Aestrid barked. The flat of her hand thumped his chest, trying to push him away. Veleif snatched the flailing hand and enveloped it in his larger one. Ignoring her resistance, he pressed a warm kiss onto her open palm.

Aestrid inhaled sharply at the searing touch of his lips against her flesh. Forgetting the pain in her banged knee, she strained in earnest. Veleif leaned closer, squeezing her immobile between his powerful thighs. The hand in her hair tilted her back, exposing the creamy column of her throat.

“The second lesson, my lady, if you harnessed your temper and expended a like effort toward passion instead…” he grinned rakishly at her, and trapped her useless hand over his heart, “I vow you could bring the entire kingdom of Kollsveinholdt at your feet.” Æstrid stilled as his soft words permeated her brain. The scent of leather from his trousers, and the pressure of his hard body around hers amplified her fluttering pulse. Veleif’s eyes roamed down her face, her neck. His measured gaze paused leisurely on her heaving bosom. Æstrid felt her cheeks broil under his deliberate perusal. Did he think to keep her as a willing bedmate? Her lips curled back in a sneer.

“You vow?” Æstrid’s brows arched in astonishment. “From which side of your mouth do you speak, Kollsvein?”

“I would ask you that question,” Veleif replied lazily. The icy eyes locked with hers in a chilling demand.

“Me?”

“Yes. You broke your word,” Veleif stated. “I did not!” Æstrid denied hotly.

“Did you not give me your word you wouldn’t harm anyone here?” Veleif chided. “Didn’t you tell me no ships would be sailing until the spring?” Æstrid countered. Hot tears of frustration sprang from her eyes.

“Did you not say ‘clear as crystals’ to my request?” Veleif pressed.

“And the ship I saw this morning was my imagination? You could have easily…” she argued.

“Enough! You speak of things you do not know,” Veleif interrupted. He snatched her hand covering her bosom and pinned it above her head. Veleif leaned down even closer and Æstrid swallowed as she read the flare of hot desire in his eyes.

“You have no right to treat me thus!” Æstrid protested in a croaked whisper.

“As lord and master of Kollsveinholdt, I’ll treat you as I see fit. Lesson three, my lady, and this one I encourage you to pay special attention to,” Veleif threatened in a low growl, “You’re better served to stir my pleasure, not invoke my ire.”

“You dare threaten me?” Æstrid hissed.

Veleif smiled. He held the advantage, yet the vixen still challenged him. His fingers squeezed her hands in warning, until he heard her whimper. Veleif gripped her hands tightly in one fist, and nudged her legs apart, until he was cradled between her thighs. He pressed against her, leaving her no doubts the evidence of his arousal

. Æstrid’s eyes went wide with panic, as his free hand plunged into her hair. Her wasted struggles seemed to do nothing more than tempt him.

“I dare more than that, Æstrid Karisson.” Veleif’s voice was husky with need.

“We are enemies sworn, Veleif Kollsvein,” Æstrid reminded him.

“By your admission, not mine.” His lips hovered above hers and his eyes roamed everywhere. “I cannot remember ever facing an enemy more beautiful, or desiring one so well.” He pushed against her thighs to underscore his words.

“Your lust has unbalanced you, barbarian. Until you return me to Karissonholdt, I vow you’ll not have a moment’s peace.” Æstrid promised tightly. Veleif chuckled deeply as his thumb grazed the delicate line of her jaw. Æstrid stiffened beneath him, as he expected.

“I agree. There wouldn’t be a moment’s peace around you. You stir a man’s blood to boiling,” Veleif admitted, twisting her words. Shrouded in the inky curtain of his hair, his lips pressed tiny kisses against her neck, leaving streams of fiery trails in their wake. “Give up this recklessness, Æstrid,” Veleif murmured along her skin.

His intention, bringing her to this deserted cottage was to lay down the law to her, even frighten her a bit at first. She was formidable, his warrior princess. Her reactions were instinctive and predictable. She fought and squabbled and waged a protective front against her fear. She was far from home, and the familiarity of her people.

Veleif wanted to assuage her fears, convince her to relinquish any more conflict between them, and comfort her with his protection. But facing the most tempestuous vixen he’d ever encountered wouldn’t be an easy victory.

His intention was to turn this battle to his favor, calm her with a reassurance of peace, and gain a degree of her trust. His intentions were rooted in honor, but his body quickly outpaced his mind. He hadn’t prepared for the sight of her lips parted with her heaving breath, or her body soft and plaint beneath him.

Æstrid stood up, clutching the cloak tightly around her. “Why did you kiss me, Veleif?” she repeated, her voice rising with her insistence. His eyes held hers for a stretch of time before he shrugged his answer.

“You needed kissing, Æstrid.”

Veleif closed the door behind him, concealing his mirth that he’d rendered her speechless. Meeting Arnor’s questioning gaze, he simply smiled back at the big Viking. Veleif plucked the horn of ale from the man’s hand before he could protest. Swiftly draining the full contents, Veleif wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and thrust the empty vessel back into Arnor’s stunned palm. Arnor’s lips pressed into a tight line as he scanned Veleif quickly.

“Well you appear unscathed. But who knew wooing built up such a thirst?” Arnor jested, looking down at the empty horn.

“My friend, you have no idea,” Veleif slapped the man’s shoulder and gestured his thumb to the door. “See her back to the keep, Arnor. And have a care when you remind her to return the combs she borrowed.”

“Combs? What combs?” Arnor called out as Veleif headed through the drifts. “I want them returned before eventide,” Veleif tossed back over his shoulder. “What combs do you speak of?” Arnor yelled, only to be answered with a wave of Veleif’s arm above his head and his retreating form.

“Women!” Arnor grumbled to himself as he contemplated the empty horn. Eating, drinking, fucking, warring, and more drinking… he thought with a sigh.

Life used to be much less complicated, when it didn’t involve a bride.

 

Excerpt from “His Viking Bride” by Olivia Norem. Copyright © 2016 by Olivia Norem. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpt provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this website.

 

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The challenge I have in writing is describing emotion and inner conflict in my characters. While I like to reveal this through dialogue, as a reader, I know dialogue is not enough. Walk into a French bistro with the aroma of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and coffee permeating your brain, the hint of bleach used to clean the black and white tile floors. The smooth feel of well-worn, thick, wooden tabletops beneath your fingers as you arrange yourself in your chair… but describe how that makes you feel? Or what emotions the setting invokes? See Fiona, it is a bit more challenging.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not at this time. Currently all of my travel is on hold until mid-2017, when I finish a few more novels. Then I will take a break as I have tentative plans for London, England, Lublin, Poland and Managua, Nicaragua within the next year. Who knows what stories those visits will prompt?

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

My covers are designed by my husband and myself. We collaborate on the mood, theme, etc. He creates the visuals, the layout and composition, and I usually work on the copy and typesetting.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Convincing all my friends I was not gravely ill, or lying in a coma in the hospital, I had merely “gone dark” in the final weeks of completing His Viking Bride.

Fiona: If any of your books were made into a film who would you like to play the lead

Wicked Wicked Days, an erotic novel which will release late 2017, is on my radar to turn into a screenplay. I wrote the main male character, Grayson Flynn, with Johnny Messner in mind. Mr. Messner has to play the male lead. Hey, Johnny… call me will you? I have a project I know you’ll be interested in. We’ll do lunch, organic, of course.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. Read. Read. Write, and then read some more. And despite what you’ve heard or read, or researched about writing challenges and encouragement, there truly is only one “secret” to complete your work – keep your butt in the chair.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

The words ‘Thank you’ is such a small way to express so much, similar to ‘I love you’ tiny expressions used to convey the magnitude of my sentiment. Yet, I say, Thank You. Thank you for supporting my work and I hope you receive as much enjoyment from my tales as I did creating them for you. And lastly, if you like my books, post a comment, a review and tell your friends; but if you don’t like my stories, tell me. [smiles]

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

Ah Fiona, regarding me, the question should be plural. Books. I read one to two books a day. I am largely a genre reader, lately I’ve gravitated toward time travel romance, erotica, fantasy, some science fiction and philosophy thrown in.

Quite a mix, right? Once a week I add in a true literary classic by the greats, such as Fitzgerald, Whitman, or Wolfe.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

Only that it was a hardcover and contained a lot of pictures.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Most everything makes me laugh. People make me laugh. This question makes me laugh. I laugh all the time, sometimes even sitting alone in my office, I laugh. Why? I just think funny things.

What makes me cry? I don’t really cry anymore, I haven’t in years. I haven’t broken any bones in over a decade (extreme sports), all our children seem to have overcome their challenging times, and my heart has zero chance of being broken… maybe typos? Yes, typos make me weep.

Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?

Oooh, great question. If I have to pick only one, it would be Mae West. She is iconic and was so far ahead of her time. Mae was the complete package, sexy and brilliant with her distinct wit. I feel Mae was the original feminist and did a lot to empower how women were perceived, yet all the while scoffed at the establishment. A rebel. I can envision sharing life’s perspectives over a pitcher of chilled martinis with Mae, and one-upping each other with stories and observations.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?

I want something clever, like: “Look behind you” or “I should have taken lessons first” or “Hope you don’t get my doctor” because I think if you can make people laugh in a graveyard, that’s real talent.

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?

I am a huge cigar aficionado, and am passionate about classic cars. I love travel, abstract art, fine Bordeaux and all types of music. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in any one, but I certainly know enough to be dangerous 😉

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I found television to be such a distraction, we removed cable from our entertainment repertoire over five years ago. Netflix and the huge DVD collection we have satisfies us. I’ll binge-watch 24, Chuck, and West Wing. Movies… I’m a fan of just about everything from black and whites to now. I gravitate toward epic movies and action films. Give me great stunts, mindless plots, pyrotechnics and weapons and I’m in. I don’t watch horror and do add in the occasional chick-flick.

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

Food… anything healthy and fresh. I don’t eat processed foods, red meat and avoid salt. I’ve found my brain works so much better when I eat fresh. I have been known to covet organic 90% + dark chocolate.

Favorite Colors? Tiffany Blue. Always. For everything.

Music? How much time to have? [Laughs] To write, I prefer absolute silence but will play Mozart, Leonard Cohen, Elton John, and John Lennon sometimes when I need an evocative mood. Otherwise, my playlists will include everything from rap, classics, world beats, reggae and disco and on and on…

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

Oh, Fiona, I’m still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. [Laughs] I’ve been blessed to have worked in a multitude of careers, and have done so many things this far… Writing and storytelling will remain my constant until I’m no longer able to breathe, and who says I won’t do other things as well?

However, to answer your question specifically, if I weren’t writing, I think I would work toward becoming a benevolent potentate of a tiny island nation, or become a gypsy, or manage a Hip Hop artist’s tour, or import fine wines, or restore classic cars, or… who knows? I may just do them all.

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

Of course!

My website and additional links are:

www.olivianorem.com

 

Socially, you can find me on

Facebook www.facebook.com/olivianorem

Twitter www.twitter.com/olivianorem

Instagram www.instagram.com/olivianorem

Pinterest www.pinterest.com/olivianorem

 

 

You can also find me on

Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/Olivia-Norem/e/B01M5FJHK8/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1477655913&sr=8-1

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/olivianorem

Advertisements