Over at Whatever, John Scalzi has a great little interview-style snippet from Judson Roberts, a historical fiction writer, about the process of writing his viking fiction. Roberts talks about what you need for good historical writing, and the ways events in his life helped him ‘get’ what vikings were all about:
My earliest drafts fell far short of achieving my second goal. I wasn’t bringing the Vikings’ culture to life. I wasn’t succeeding at getting inside the heads of a people who’d lived over a thousand years ago. What I was creating felt comparable to the dreadful 1993 Disney-produced film of The Three Musketeers, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen, whose characters may have been garbed in costumes appropriate to the period, and placed in authentic looking settings, but as soon as they opened their mouths you heard twentieth century surfer dudes, and every shred of the movie’s credibility went out the window.
Ironically, what led me to my breakthrough big idea was having almost every aspect of my life get blown to hell.