Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. It’s is my stop on the blog tour for Where Blood Runs Cold, the latest release from Giles Kristian, and today I’ll be sharing a Q&A with Giles. A big thank you to Giles for his time, and to Midas PR for all their hard work.
Erik Amdahl and his spirited daughter, Sofia, have embarked on a long-promised cross-country ski trip deep into Norway’s arctic circle. For Erik, it’s the chance to bond properly with his remaining daughter following a tragic accident. For Sofia, it’s the proof she needs that her father does care.
Then, far from home in this snowbound wilderness, with night falling and the mercury plummeting, an accident sends them in search of help – and shelter. Nearby is the home of a couple – members of Norway’s indigenous Sami people – who they’ve met before, and who welcome them in. Erik is relieved. He believes the worst is over. He thinks that Sofia is now safe. He could not be more wrong. He and Sofia are not the old couple’s only visitors that night – and soon he and Sofia will be running for their lives . . .
…and beneath the swirling light show of the Northern Lights, a desperate fight ensues – of man against man, of man against nature – a fight for survival that plays out across the snow and ice.
A story of endurance and of the desperate, instinctive will to survive, of a father’s love for his child, of knowing when to let go – and of a daughter’s determination to prove herself worthy of that love, Where Blood Runs Cold is a pulse-racing thriller from a master storyteller.
Hi Giles, thanks so much for joining me to discuss Where Blood Runs Cold. How are you feeling seeing this new release out in the world?
Having written eleven historical novels, it feels fresh and exciting to be diving into a new genre. I’m hoping my existing readers trust my storytelling enough to take a chance on something different. But of course, I’m also hoping to tap into a new readership; people who don’t know me or my other work. The publishing business hates it when authors stray outside their usual genre, but I don’t like being pigeonholed.
This turn to a snow-deep thriller is a bit of a turn from your usual historical fiction. What drove this change, and did your writing approach need to change to match?
Lancelot and Camelot were big books comprising 383,000 words of story into which I’d invested emotionally, heart and soul. I felt drained after those books, and I needed to find a story that would re-ignite my creative flame. I’d wanted to write a chase thriller set in the Norwegian Arctic since I first had the idea back in 2003. All these years later, it seemed to me the perfect time to try something different. But a thriller is all about momentum and pace. There’s no time (or appetite in the thriller reader) for worldbuilding and long descriptive passages, so I had to pare down my usual lyrical style to a degree. A typical thriller is between 70,000 and 90,000 words. Where Blood Runs Cold is about 85,000 words. That’s like half a book for me! It was exhilarating to sit down each morning with the end almost in sight, rather than each day’s work feeling like nothing but a drop in the ocean.
What do you most hope people take away from Where Blood Runs Cold?
As always, I want people to feel immersed. I hope that the setting is evoked in all its stark, cold beauty. I want the reader’s heartrate to increase and their breathing to quicken in those moments of peril. I want them to question what they might do if they found themselves in the same situation as Erik and Sofia. But I hope also that readers discover the story’s deeper layers, because within this tale of survival is a story about a man facing his own mortality and fears, and of a young girl who is trying to find her place in the world. Phil Stevens, who narrated the audiobook, wrote about Where Blood Runs Cold being a ‘heart-rending action adventure that, as well as being a top tier icy thriller, also explores the human condition, spirituality, grief, and the generational complexities of our journey through life.’ I hope other readers feel that too.
Where does your passion for history come from?
I’ve always felt the echoes of other times and places like vibrations in my subconscious. Like half memories, or dreams whose details are lost but whose feelings and emotions yet linger. A well-written historical novel is the closest thing we have to a time machine. When I read a Christian Cameron or Mary Renault novel, I’m in Ancient Greece. When I first read Bernard Cornwell’s The Winter King, some twenty-six years ago now, I was in Dark Age Britain. As Queen once said, It’s a kind of magic.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just started an advance copy of Target Zero, the new thriller by Anthony Riches and the sequel to Nemesis. Riches made his reputation with his gritty, long-running Empire series of novels telling of the exploits of Roman soldier Marcus Valerius. But his new hero is Met close protection officer Mickey Bale, who has a penchant for revenge and the skills to take it. In Target Zero, Bale takes a job protecting a powerful Russian Oligarch who is suspected by MI5 of being involved in the killing of a police firearms team. Blackmailed by the Met into being a double agent, the clock is ticking, and Bale must locate more Russian warheads, or thousands will die. As Bale is drawn ever deeper into conspiracy and danger, Anthony Riches is emerging as a thriller writer par excellence.
When you sit down to start work on a novel, what’s the first thing you do?
Every time is slightly different. For Lancelot, I wrote an in-depth chapter plan covering the whole book. For Arthur, my current WIP, there is no plan as such, just a few lines on themes and events. For Where Blood Runs Cold, I wrote a 3000-word outline which served as my pitch to my publisher. There was no point writing a more detailed plan as that would have been the book itself. I must say I detest planning the stories out beforehand. To me it feels like homework. A real chore. I’ll admit though, it does make the writing easier in the long run when you can refer to a detailed outline. However, once you start writing, the story will veer off the path anyway, which is the way it should be.
Finally, how would you sum up Where Blood Runs Cold in three words?
Intense Scandi thriller.
Thanks so much for joining me for this fascinating interview! Where Blood Runs Cold is out now in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats.