Historical fiction and mystery and romance, oh my

As part of an ongoing occasional series of interviews, here is my interview with UK based novelist Diana Jackson.



Hi Diana,

Thanks for appearing as a guest on my blog, all the way from the UK.  I know that you write romance and historical fiction and mystery all blended together.  What led you to this very interesting mashup of genres?

Ha! I don’t think novels should have to fit into genres, personally. There are love tangles in murder mysteries, just as historical fiction can just as easily be a detective series – set in Roman times for example. ‘Murder, now and then’ is a murder mystery set in the future – enough for me to be creative without being too sci fi, with flashbacks to 1919 – but there’s also a bit of psychology and a touch of romance too! Now you know why I didn’t try to submit it to a Trad publishing house!

Do you get a chance to visit firsthand the islands and areas in the UK about which you write? 

Oh certainly. A visit to Alderney is an annual event and I’ve been to Guernsey many times ~ less so to Jersey but there’s nothing like having an excuse to carry out some research on a beautiful island. All of the islands have individual charm and with family roots in the Channel Islands, much like my characters, I’m drawn to their shores by a powerful but invisible thread.

Ever see any ghosts there?  You know I’m always looking for good fodder for my own ghost stories…

I’ve never seen any but parts of Alderney do seem a little haunted by their more recent history, being used as a prison by the Germans during WWII. My first novel, Riduna, set further back in the mid 19th century, begins with a bit of a ghost story as the fathers of my main characters are returning from the Divers, more than a little inebriated, when they encounter the Ghost of the White Bull charging towards them down Le Val. They are soon distracted by a fire on the horizon, a sudden sobering moment as they realise that another ship has been wrecked in the dangerous waters just off the coast of Alderney (Riduna in my novel) …I could go on…

I’m taking notes. So which of your own novels is your personal favorite? Please add a link for people to find it.

What a tough question! I love the Riduna Series ~ they are such an important part of my life but my recently released Murder Mystery has been such fun to write, as well as a challenge. People say I am maturing as a writer. Murder, now and then, is available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon worldwide and I’m very proud of it! 


Murder nowthen final modify 1Paperbackmnat

How do you plot out your novels?  Are you a pants-er or a plotter?

Following substantial research, apart from a brief outline, I am unable to write a detailed plot – I find it does not allow the characters to lead me where they want to go. Mind you, I might have a bit of fun next time and argue with them!

I also keep a book of notes on character traits, chapter by chapter outline as I write them and key notes for further research. With MNAT I ended up with a large board of post-its to track the timing of events for each character.

What are you reading right now for fun?

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson and The Queen of Hearts by PJ Shann – an indie writer. I say both because I keep trying to read Life after Life but it irritates me so much that I turn to QofH for a good story to relax by. Are writers trying to be too clever for traditional publishers these days? I despair sometimes.

And the most dreaded author interview question, please describe your current novel in less than thirty words.

Murder, now and then is a murder mystery set mainly in the heart of England in 2019, with trips to Canada and The Channel Islands. Flashbacks throughout the novel take the reader to a true unsolved murder back in 1919 at an Haynes Park army camp, which become increasingly entangled with the murder of a farmer in his kitchen in 2019.

Better still, why don’t you watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bHDH3dc39g

Ha–I’m not the only one challenged by 30 word summaries.  Finally, what’s on the drawing board?

I am just beginning to write the third and final part of the Riduna Series set in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but before that is released I have a couple of novellas up my sleeve – the first set in Scotland inspired by a wonderful nine month writer’s retreat in Fife, currently described in diary form on www.selectionsofreflections.wordpress.com.


Diana Jackson can be found at:



CR Hodges

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I’ve been interviewed

I’ve been interviewed by Diana Jackson, a UK based author of historical fiction including Murder now & then.  Check out Welcome to Author of Ghost Stories with a Difference ~ CR Hodges on her blog.


Maybe she has some ghosts hanging around over there to write about.

CR Hodges

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All about valkyries

I write about valkyries.  A lot.  Based on old Norse myths, my variant of the archetype are ruthless, mortal and wingless female warriors who are engaged in an endless thirteen-sided chess match for global domination.

ValkyrieOnHorseThe mythos

In Norse mythology, Odin had thirteen winged valkyries who served Odin All-father, circling the battlefields on swan wings, waiting to pluck fallen heroes and take them to Valhalla. There, these heroes joined the brotherhood of the einherjar, who got to eat and drink for all eternity, waiting for Ragnarök, the battle at the end of the world.

According to the 13th century Icelandic historian, Snorri Sturulson:

Hrist and Mist
I would have bear the horn to me.
Skeggjöld and Skögul,
Hildr and Thrúdr,
Hlökk and Herfjötur,
Göll and Geirahöð,
Randgríðr and Ráðgríðr,
and Reginleif,
bear ale to the Einherjar.

These are called the Valkyries.

(Prose Edda, book one, Glyfaginning, stanza thirty-six)

 My take

So while the Prose Edda is a classic, it is also writer-chow, providing fodder for new tales of valkyries and their einherjar. And so I write about a sect of modern-day valkyries, always thirteen in number, who dream in Old Norse of world domination.  Behind every dictator, every revolutionary, and yes, every counterrevolutionary, there is a valkyrie.  Like lawyers, they each take  a side, for there is nothing a valkyrie likes better than a good fight.

But my modern-day valkyries, while super-humanly strong and long-lived, are mortal as well as wingless.  So when a valkyrie does die, one of the remaining twelve has to mate with a hero to produce a valkyrie infant.  The young valkyrie grows up fast to take her place as the power behind a future throne;  the hero is granted the gift of the einherjar: near super-human strength combined with an uncontrollable urge to fight.  Think General Custer, he was Sváva’s einherja .

The valkyries are coming

I have one novel and four short stories written in this milieu.  The first short story, “Preschool War Games,” was published in April 2014 in Cicada Magazine.  The other short stories–“How a Valkyrie Flies,” “The Einherja,” and “Riding Hel’s Horse”–as well as  my mythica novel, Ragnarök Willie, are still being shopped. and more to come I am sure.

CR Hodges

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Gho is coming

After 5 years, endless rewrites, and a major compaction from novel to novella, I just received the galley proofs for the upcoming publication of my very first story.  Gho, a paranormal fantasy about Hildi Schreiber, a teenage inventor whose paranormal vortex detector inadvertently leads to her murder and return as a ghost, will be published in August as part of an anthology from Bards and Sages Publishing.  Details are TBD, but it sure is exciting to see those words all formatted up pretty and all.


For those of you who have read my short stories, this is the one that ties many of them together.  Nishi from “Walking with Great Uncle,” Ice from “Along Sand Creek,” and Granny from “The Confederate Cavalryman’s Saber” all play leading roles.

Stay tuned.

CR Hodges

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Excerpt of the week: Capture the Flag

In honor of the 4th of July, here’s an excerpt from a yet-to-be-published sci fi short story, “Capture the Flag.”  Set in the not so distant future, the world watches as astronauts rush to the moon to protect the first American flag planted there.


Capture the Flag

by C.R. Hodges


Eagle II hovered over the Sea of Tranquility as I searched for an artifact-free landing zone. I needed to get us close enough for the boys to hike in with their heavy weapons, but without damaging any of the treasures we had raced to protect. We had no rover—the prototype had broken down on a training mission in Utah—so a lunar promenade was our only option.

Running around on the surface of the moon armed for interplanetary bear had not been the plan. I was supposed to captain next year’s Mars mission. My crewmates, all Marines, were supposed to be storming beaches or doing whatever the hell Marines do.

That was before Flagjacker.

“There,” Hank said, “just beyond the rise. But land quickly, Fay, the Chinese are coming.”

“Copy.” We landed fast. The lander had been designed for Mars’s gravity, so it was overkill for the moon’s. This entire mission was overkill, but the stakes were enormous. One of the proudest symbols of our nation was under attack: the Chinese were attempting to capture our flag. Neil and Buzz’s flag. The first flag planted on the moon, a century ago.

Happy Independence Day.

CR Hodges

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Updated list of paying spec fiction short story markets: June 2014

I’ve updated my list of paying spec fiction short story markets, as of June 29, 2014


The following markets have been added:

  • Semipro:
    • Triptych Tales  Urban fantasy or Earth based Sci Fi.  Pays $100
    • Alternate Hilarities  Short, funny fantasy.  Pays $0.01 / word
    • PodCastle  Podcast fantasy.  Pays $100.  But temporarily closed until July 1
    • Tales of Old  Historical fiction or alternative reality. Pays $25. But temporarily closed

The following markets have reopened:

  • Ares Magazine — Website is back up
  • New Myths–Now has reading periods.  Open trough July 31
  • Stupefying Stories


  • Daily Science Fiction  is only accepting work up to 2000 words at this time
  • Crossed Genres has increased its pay rate to $0.06 / word
  • Comets and Criminals   now takes reprints only
  • Updated web links on several markets

The following markets are temporarily closed:

  • Apex — Closed until September
  • Fictionvale  — Will reopen in August
  • Darwin’s Evolution  — Web site down

CR Hodges

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Setting stories in the land of vikings and valkyries

As my long time readers know, I have a penchant for setting stories in the Nordic lands, be they tales from the Old Norse mythos or space operas set in Kiruna’s Spaceport.  While I cannot claim any Viking blood, at least that I know of, I have lived in Sweden and traveled frequently to the land of the midnight sun and pickled herring.  I still count many friends, and hopefully readers, there, and I can still make myself understood, at least enough to order a beer or find the restroom. My recent holiday in Scandinavia–including not only Sweden but also Finland, Norway and Iceland–only reinforced this bond, so its fair to say more stories set up there will be forthcoming.


Besides the obvious personal connection, I have found many ways to bring stories to life set in the old lands of Odin and Loki.  While Norse mythology has been brought into popular culture over the years, ranging from Wagner to The Avengers, the actual mythos is deep and complex.  I have the Prose Edda on my Kindle, and while I cannot say  I have read it all, it offers up a bounty of complex myths.  Loki the trickster is part giant (or all, depending on who you believe) while Odin’s steed Sleipnir has 8 legs.  Valkyries have swan wings and are either battle maidens or beer maidens, depending on where you look. Ragnarök is the battle at the end of the world, or perhaps at the beginning.


The climate and the latitude also offer intriguing opportunities for writers.  The despair and depression that accompanies winter nights a month long balanced against endless summer son in a stuga (cabin) by a lake. More interesting yet, at high latitudes the sun circles, never really setting in the summer just skimming below the horizon.


And finally the culture and the people.  While I never write about any real people I have known, I do blend in various characteristics and ticks: Swedes in an elevator and Finns in a bar, the few words of a Norrlander and the drinking songs of a well-lubricated Stockholmboende.IMG_0321

Stories set in part in Scandinavia:

  • “How a Valkyrie Flies”opens in Stockholm, Sweden (and ends in Sydney, Australia)
  • Ragnarök  Willie is set in Kiruna, Sweden and in the ancient ruins of Valhalla, all while the long night of winter sets onto the north
  • Preschool War Games,” is set in Helsinki, Finland
  • Sci Fi stories like “The Trillionaire” is partially set at Kiruna Spaceport, while “New Svalbard” is set on Svalbard, the northernmost island in Norway, at least until they move everyone to Mercury
  • Both of my work-in-progress helhest stories, “Hel’s Horse Cannot Swim” and “Trampled” are set in Norway, as is “The Last Frost Giant.”

Other Scandinavian connections:

  • Ice Isgardsson, both as an FBI agent in Gho and as a young boy in “Along Sand Creek,” has a taciturn Swedish father
  • Anna-Jing, the spaceship pilot of my Martians series — “Three-Quarters Martian,” “Martian Rules,” “Stranded,” and “Godspeed, Martians” — is also half Swedish. She dreams of romping with the Swedish national hockey team while on Mars.
  • Many of my valkyries have Swedish roots, especially Geiravör (Ragnarök Willie, “How a Valkyrie Flies,” “Hel’s Horse Cannot Swim”), while Randgrid and Siggi claim Helsinki as home.
  • While I do write in English, my readers know my penchant for interlacing a few Swedish pejoratives into my dialog, from skit (pronounced with an h) to djävla (damn) to my personal favorite, fan och hans moster (literally, the devil and his aunt).

And it’s safe to say, after my recent trip to fabulous Iceland, there will be some Icelandic settings in the future.  “Valkyries in Volcanoes” anyone?



CR Hodges


Posted in Gho, Mythica, Ragnarök Willie, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment