Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A view from Michelle Griep's Window - Undercurrent

It is indeed a treat to welcome Michelle Griep to my Window to discuss her latest novel, Undercurrent. If you enjoy time travel, interesting places in ancient history, and stories that challenge your faith, please check out Michelle's novels! They are fabulous!

Please, give Michelle a warm welcome to my Window!

Tenth Century Norway! Vikings! Another world entirely – intended snarkiness – from the life of a twenty-first century professor! Where on earth did you get the idea?

My family tree’s roots are in Norway. I’d love to go there but whoa baby—have you seen airfare lately? Not to mention you have to pay for checked baggage. To top it off, you don’t even get peanuts! So I took the trip in my mind. And just to spice it up a bit, I visited in a different century.

Explain the significance of the pin that Cassie purchases at the beginning of the story. I know it plays a more important role in the past than the future, but I’m not sure I understood exactly what the connection was.

Brooches were an indispensable part of a Viking woman’s dress. It held the darn thing up at the straps. But you’re right…Cassie’s pin is an important symbol for a tenth century Scandinavian. The wolf head represents Fenrir, a character in Viking mythology. It is said that when Fenrir is finally loosed at Ragnarok (the end of the world), time will stop and begin anew.

I LOVED the insight into early Christianity, especially when place side by side in a culture that was primarily pagan! Ragnar was a real inspiration/challenge to me as he lived out his faith. Where did you gain inspiration for his character? Was is realistic to that time period – in terms of what early Christians would have faced in society?

Peter is my favorite character in the New Testament. Gritty. Real. And though flawed, faithful to the best of his ability. That’s Ragnar.

I stuck as true to the period as possible, though I did make Ragnar a little larger than life. During the late 10th century, Christianity came to the shores of Norway through the king, Olaf Trygvasson. Unfortunately, he brought it on the edge of a battleaxe. Basically you either converted or had your skull cleaved. Most converted, though kept their Viking gods as well, making for an interesting mix.

Alarik was a terrific contrast to Ragnar – in every way – from his physical relationship with his fiancĂ© to his skepticism about any aspect of Ragnar faith! How was his character created?

In contemporary terms, Alarik is your garden variety Joe Schmo, a happy-go-lucky kind of fella who lives in the moment. You can meet him today. He’s the dude with a beer can in one hand watching Monday night football, except for on weekends when he’s hanging out with his buddies.

“…the God I serve is sovereign. Whatever the future holds, He has already ordained.” (p. 189)

This is one of my favorite quotes from the novel, first of all, because it is so true, but also because it seems to be the dominant theme that is brought to the forefront in a variety of situations. Briefly tell your readers why you chose this as the bedrock of the events in this story.

I see and hear so much anxiety and fear in the people around me, even in the Christian community, which made me wonder what’s the deal? So I’m doing my little part to remind everyone that if you believe in the God of the Bible, then relax. This is His gig, not yours. He is worthy of our trust.

How difficult is it to figure out ways to “transport” people from one time period to another? Why is this your chosen vehicle for story telling?

Piece of cake easy. I just make it up. The transporting part, that is. I don’t get bogged down in technicalities because the actual time traveling part of the story isn’t really that crucial. I choose visiting the past, though, because I love history and truth is timeless.

I think “time travel” is particularly effective in this story, because readers are able to grasp the timelessness of human depravity. Whether it takes place in the primitive culture of a tenth century Viking village or in the classroom of a twenty-first century professor, many trials are virtually the same. What message do you hope readers will gain through this very unlikely comparison?

I hope that it gives readers a broader view in the sense that hey, maybe the smelly homeless guy begging at the busy intersection isn’t really all that different than me on the inside. At our core, we’re all sinful humans in need of a Savior, no matter what costume we wear on a day-to-day basis.

Now that you have visited tenth century Norway, what is next from you imagination?

Want a sequel? I’ve got one brewing. Oh yeah, that and I do have a straight historical manuscript already finished and looking for a home…an 18th century opium addict and a fella who’s going mad.

What was your favorite scene from this story? Mine was – I think – the scene where Alaerik wrestles with his own heart. (don’t want to give anything away here!)

Aww. That was a touching scene, eh? My personal favorite is when Ragnar is leading Cassie through the deep, dark woods in the middle of the night. She freaks out about a wolf and he says to her, “Fear not. Think you I would lead you into danger? Even so, I am well armed.” When I wrote that, I stopped for a few minutes, blown away by the picture it made in my mind of how Jesus leads me.

Do you have any words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

Just a reminder….Last time I checked, God was still on the throne. He’s the author of your life story. Trust His capabilities. Nothing personal, but He’s way more capable than you are.

1 comment:

Michelle Griep said...

Thanks for hosting me, Kim!