Please welcome ST Bende to the virtual offices today. She’s here to chat about ELSKER. Check out what she has to say!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[ST Bende] Paranormal author, baking aficionado, IndyCar fan, skier and lover of all things Scandinavian… except fish.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Elsker?
[ST] Elsker follows 20-year-old Kristia Tostenson as she leaves her one stoplight town for Cardiff University, in Wales. She falls in love with Ull Myhr, who isn’t exactly what she was expecting for her first boyfriend. He’s a Norse God — an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms. Her orderly life is about to get messy.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[ST] It all comes down to Nehalem, Oregon. I was on a road trip along the Oregon Coast when I pulled into one of those little drive-through coffee shops. I looked around and realized I was in a town with one stoplight and less than 300 residents. It was literally the smallest town I’d ever been in. The ocean was on one side and the forest on the other. This place was amazing! I started wondering what it would be like to grow up there, and Kristia Tostenson’s been a part of my imagination ever since.
Finding a love interest for Kristia was a little harder. I knew I wanted to incorporate Norse mythology into her story, but there’s already so much written about Thor, Odin and the gang. I wanted to find a god people didn’t have preconceived notions of, and when I came across Ull (the God of Winter) I knew he was my man. He’s the God of Skiing too, which appealed to me as a skier.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Kristia?
[ST] Proper, cautious, thoughtful.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Ull had a theme song, what would it be?
[ST] It’s Time, by Imagine Dragons. “I get a little bit bigger but then I admit, I’m just the same as I was. Now don’t you understand? I’m never changing who I am.”
The Fates mapped out Ull’s future when he was born, and he doesn’t think he has any say in what happens. He’s an Asgardian Assassin, Thor’s stepson, and the drop dead gorgeous God of Winter, but at the end of the day he feels like everything’s out of his control. As otherworldly as he is, he feels powerless a lot of the time. Imagine Dragons nail Ull’s secret insecurities.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Kristia is never without.
[ST] Her grandmother’s necklace. It’s a silver replica of Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer, and her grandma gave it to her just before she died. Kristia wears it every day.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Ull’s pockets?
[ST] The only things you’re going to find in Ull’s pockets are his wallet, his keys and his phone. He’s meticulous, a total rule follower, and you’d never even find a stray receipt in there. He tucks them right into his wallet to be filed or thrown away when he gets home. You won’t even find pocket lint — his friend Inga won’t let him wear anything she considers “last season”, so literally nothing gathers dust in his closet.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Kristia’s greatest regret?
[ST] She’s not a big regret girl. She does wish she had more of a sense of adventure, but she’s ready to do something about that.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[ST] For this project, my ever-patient Norwegian teacher, and the volumes of Norse mythology textbooks I found at my library. I must have read every book they had, even the kid’s books. (The kid’s books have seriously disturbing illustrations, by the way. I had no idea trolls could be so terrifying.)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[ST] My laptop, a nice cup of tea… and I may have edited a good portion of these books wearing a Thor t-shirt I picked up at Target. Just saying…
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[ST] I just finished reading Unmasking Maya, by Libby Mercer. (http://www.amazon.com/Unmasking-Maya-ebook/dp/B00AN7CCV0) If she’s not the next Sophie Kinsella, I don’t know who is. Twitter introduced me to this amazing group of indie/small press Chick-Lit writers – Libby, Tracie Banister, Samantha Stroh Bailey – there are about eight authors who promote their stuff together, and I’m making my way through their books. I swear every one is better than the last.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[ST] I’ve been reading for longer than I can remember, though I distinctly recall waiting for Ann M. Martin’s newest Babysitters Club book to come out every month. Did she really write a book a month? Much later, I remember picking up my first Harry Potter book and thinking, Wow. Now this is brilliant writing. One of my most prized possessions is a copy of the final Harry Potter novel — Gary Oldman signed it for me as “Gary Oldman/Sirius B.” And now I have this fantasy of getting JK Rowling’s autograph one day. *swoons!*
Thank you so much for having me on today, Julie! It’s been so much fun chatting with you. Be sure to stop by my blog (http://stbende.blogspot.com/) during April and May for lots of fun giveaways, including the Syttende Mai Waffle Fest Giveaway (if you like books and waffles, you’ll love this). And visit Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/stbende or the ELSKER page on the Entranced Publishing website (http://www.entrancedpublishing.com/imprints-2/blush/elsker/) to find out how to download TUR, the free ELSKER prequel!
[Manga Maniac Cafe ] Thank you!
Buy links: for now visit Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/stbende or the ELSKER page on the Entranced Publishing website (http://www.entrancedpublishing.com/imprints-2/blush/elsker/) – Amazon and Barnes & Noble links will be available starting April 22.
About the book:
Book trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MaJIgkk-CI
About the author:
Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired The Elsker Saga. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.
You can follow ST Bende on Twitter @stbende, or send an e-mail to stbende(at)gmail(dot)com.
ELSKER – Book 1, THE ELSKER SAGA
At eight o’clock, a firm knock interrupted my reading. I picked my way through the flower shop that our living room had become and opened the door.
“Oh good, you kept my peace offerings.” Ull treated me to a rakish grin.
“Just a few of them,” I muttered. “Come on in.”
“Oh, no. You must come with me.”
“Why?” I challenged. Ull sighed.
“Are you going to fight me at every turn?”
“Please come.” He looked so adorable standing on my stoop, his scarf casually thrown across the grey sweater under his coat. I gave in quicker than I meant to.
“Fine.” I grabbed my coat from the closet by the door and shoved my keys and wallet into the pocket. “Where are we off to?” I closed the door behind me and followed Ull into the brisk night, waiting for his promised explanation.
But he didn’t say anything. Instead, he put his hand on the small of my back and guided me away from campus. I shivered and noticed that Ull wore his jacket open, at ease in the chill. As we rounded the corner, Ull dropped his hand to clasp mine. It was so warm, so strong, and for a moment I forgot to be mad at him. We walked in silence as he led me down the main road. After two right turns, I found myself standing in a quiet garden.
Ull had brought me to a church.