Historical novelist Robert Low knows a thing or two about the subject matter of his Viking novels. A former journalist who’d covered rough assignments in Vietnam and Kosovo, Low turned to his love of Viking culture into fodder for his novels. An enthusiastic reenactor of ancient warfare, Low knows what he’s talking about when it comes to layering battle detail in his novels. His latest release, THE WOLF SEA, is the second book in his Oathsworn series, and I’m eager to immerse myself again in the grungy violent world of post-Rome Europe.
Low and his agent Jim Gill were caught in a bloody corporate power struggle when Gill’s then-agency PDF, angered agents and clients so much they fled and started a new agency, United Agents. I asked Low how the upheaval affected him, since the conflict reveals the seamier side of the publishing industry.
Enjoy part two of our interview with Robert Low (click HERE for part one).
Q: THE OATHSWORN SERIES is going to follow the adventures of Orm, the young Viking now making his way in a perilous post-Roman world. Did you conceive the story as a standalone or was it always supposed to be a series? What are some of the challenges to writing a recurring character?
RL: Initially, it was a standalone tale, in which the quest for the treasure of Atil’s tomb ended exactly the way it did in The Whale Road – they got it, they touched it, they lost it. End of book. My agent, Jim Gill, loved the book and actually thought I had teased him with the ending, so the idea of a Book 2 was planted. Then he went and sold three books to HarperCollins, the lovely man, so I had to come up with them! Writing Orm as a recurring character is no problem – he starts out at 15 and develops to manhood in these three books, so each one is like dealing with a different, new hero. There are few who end up coming with him right to the end of the three books – one reviewer on Amazon loved TWR, but could not see how I was going to follow it up, since I kept killing characters off faster than the Black Death.
Q: Do you plot extensively in advance, or let it unfold organically? Have you ever been so unhappy with a scene or a plot thread that you’ve chucked it and started over?
RL: I NEVER start off with a plotted novel. [Read more…]