The Ice Queen
Book Two of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga
By Bruce Macbain
Publication Date: November 30, 2015
Blank Slate Press
eBook & Paperback; 285 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
The second volume of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga takes up Odd’s adventures as a skald (court poet) in the land of the Rus. Here he is drawn into a dangerous love affair with the passionate and cunning Princess Ingigerd of Novgorod, and is forced to break with his sworn lord, Harald the Ruthless. Along the way, Odd devises a stratagem to defeat the wild Pechenegs, nomadic warriors of the Russian steppe, and goes off on a doomed mission to explore the distant reaches of the Black Sea. The novel concludes with Odd sailing into the harbor of Constantinople, bent on a secret mission, which will almost certainly cost him his life.
Eager, curious, quick-witted—and sometimes wrong-headed—Odd Tangle-Hair recounts his story with candor, insight, and always an ironic sense of humor.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to Room With Books!
What do you do when you are not writing?
I work part time as a library assistant in the Brookline Public Library, a job which I enjoy very much. It’s a beautiful little library and it gives me a chance to get out of the house, meet neighbors, and see what all the latest books and DVDs are. And naturally they always stock a few copies of my books.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
At an early age that would be Edgar Rice Burroughs’s ‘A Princess of Mars’ and all the numerous sequels. I read them all; I made costumes; I played Martian chess—the whole nine yards. But a few years ago I picked up a copy to see if the old magic was still there and found that it was absolutely unreadable—badly written, blatantly racist, utterly witless. Sigh. Nevertheless, I learned things from those books; namely the words ‘escarpment’ and ‘chagrin’. So no experience is ever wasted.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
My first book was “Roman Games”, a mystery set in ancient Rome featuring Pliny the Younger as my sleuth. And actually the publication came about painlessly. Poisoned Pen Press simply advertised for manuscripts from new writers on a list serve that I belong to. I submitted it and, a few months later, when I’d just about forgotten about it, I got an email from Barbara Peters saying they wanted to publish it, with virtually no revisions. I didn’t have an agent at the time and still don’t.
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Time travel! What else would a historian want?
What was your first job?
My first job was as a waiter at the University of Chicago Faculty Club. I lasted a week before they fired me. Ever since then I’ve had enormous respect for waiters.
Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite? Why?
My current favorite is the one I’m writing about now: Odd Thorvaldsson, the hero of my Viking trilogy, “Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga.” Odd is what I like to call ‘a thinking man’s Viking.’ We meet him first at the age of sixteen (in “Odin’s Child”) when his family is slaughtered in a feud and he flees Iceland in a stolen ship to set out for the Viking life. And the saga carries him to Russia (“The Ice Queen”) where he is ensnared by the beautiful Princess Ingigerd; and finally to Byzantium (in “The Guardsman”, coming next year), where he rises to the height of power and happiness, and then suffers a terrible reversal. I haven’t based him on a real character (as I have some other figures in the series), he’s entirely my own creation. He’s what I like to think I might have been if I had lived then—adventurous, curious, eager to learn, gifted at languages, sometimes naïve, sometimes foolish, but always with an ironic, self-deprecating take on everything.
What does your writing schedule look like?
I try to put in about three hours a day most days. But even when I’m not at my desk, things are always clicking along in the back of my mind and ideas are filtering up to my consciousness. The most valuable tool I have is a small pocket voice recorder, so that wherever I am, night or day, I can capture every thought that crosses my mind.
Do you use your own experiences?
No, not really. I’ve led a pretty quiet life—no sword fights, no storms at sea.
Was it easy to pick the title for your book?
It was, actually. Titles seem to come easily to me. “Roman Games” because the setting of the novel is an ancient festival called the Ludi Romani. “The Bull Slayer” because the plot revolves around the ancient cult of Mithras, who is always shown killing a bull. “Odin’s Child” because Odd is a heathen, devoted to the old Norse worship of Odin. “The Ice Queen” because Princess Ingigerd is cold and cunning (of course, who could have predicted that Disney’s “Frozen” would come along and usurp her name!). And finally, “The Guardsman” because Odd joins the Varangian Guard, the emperor’s bodyguard, in Constantinople.
If you could pick one profession other than author, what would it be? Why does it appeal to you?
Movie director, I think. Because that’s another form of storytelling, and they make a lotta dough! (Wouldn’t that be nice?)
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently finishing up a final draft of “The Guardsman” and then I’ll bid a fond farewell to Odd Tangle-Hair. It’s time to move on. I’m starting to research a novel set in 18th century England and Scotland in which one of the characters is actually an ancestor of mine, one Donald McBane, who was a British soldier and expert swordsman.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Vanilla, I’m afraid.
Night owl, or early bird? Night owl.
Coffee or tea? Coffee. I only drink tea when I have a cold.
Roller Coasters or Water Rides? I’ve done some white water rafting and loved it. I also rode the Cyclone at Coney Island a few years ago (I must have been out of my mind) and couldn’t stand up straight for a week.
Swimming in the ocean or a pool? The ocean, as long as it’s the Pacific, nice and warm.
Walking or fitness club? I love to walk. I used to belong to a fitness club but I found that every time I went in there I was overcome by the strange delusion that I was Arnold Schwarzenegger. (It’s a guy thing.) So I hurt my shoulder, my knees, my back. I finally quit and I feel so much better!
Any last words?
Oops! I’m about to be late for work at the library. It’s been fun. See ya.
Thank you for chatting with our readers and for allowing Room With Books to be part of your tour!
From boyhood, Bruce Macbain spent his days in reading history and historical fiction. The Greeks and Romans have held a special fascination for him, and this led to earning a master’s degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. Along the way, he also taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo. Later, he taught courses in Greek and Roman civilization at Boston University, and published a few dense monographs, read by very few. In recent years he has turned to writing fiction, a much more congenial pursuit, beginning with two historical mysteries set in ancient Rome (Roman Games and The Bull Slayer). Now, he has turned his attention to his other favorite folk, the Vikings. Odin’s Child , the first novel of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga, was published in May, 2015 and is now followed the sequel, The Ice Queen. A concluding volume will follow next year.
Bruce spends his spare time in the kitchen, cooking spicy food.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, December 14
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, December 15
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Thursday, December 17
Spotlight at Room With Books
Sunday, December 20
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Tuesday, December 22
Review at Book Nerd
Wednesday, December 30
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Thursday, December 31
Review at Boom Baby Reviews