Monday 15 June 2015

Vik and The Night Raider

by Marie-Louise Jensen

One of the first questions I tend to ask myself, once a story has formed in my mind, is where is it set? I need to be able to see it. I've mentioned this in connection with Runaway in my last post, but it's true of everything I write. Sometimes it's a wonderful excuse to revisit a place I love.
When I wrote The Night Raider for the Fiction Express website last year, I wanted to choose a different location in Iceland to my two teen novels. There, I fictionalised the settlement of Husavik on the north coast. For this story for younger readers, I chose another place in Iceland that made a big impression on me.
I don't know whether it was the incredible weather we had the first time I visited Vik on the south coast, the sky cloudless and the deepest blue I've ever seen, or whether it was the incredible black volcanic-shingle beach:
"Reynisfjara, Suðurland, Islandia, 2014-08-17, DD 163" by Diego Delso. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -,_Su%C3%B0urland,_Islandia,_2014-08-

This is a beautiful picture, but it doesn't fully depict how black the shingle is to stand on, and no picture can communicate the sound of the beach - the roar and rattle of the stones as the wild North Atlantic ocean surges against it. 
Another thing I loved about Vik, was that it was the first place I saw puffins flying from the cliffs. I saw plenty later, but this was my first sighting of the funny, charming, awkward fliers:

"Puffin002" by T.Müller - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons -

A third thing I loved about Vik was the campsite was right below bird cliffs, so the second time I visited, and camped, we had kitiwakes and other gulls nesting right around us. Of course Vik also lies close to one of Iceland's big volcanoes, Katla. It is due an eruption soon  and the town is on permanent alert. 
The Vikings settlers in my story don't know about the volcano; it's lurking beneath the glaciers. They are more concerned with a mysterious thief who is stealing livestock in the night...

The Night Raider is print-publishing at the end of June and is suitable for ages 9-11. 
Follow me on twitter: @jensen_ml

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