Michelle Griep says she’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Her second novel, Undercurrent, was released this month by Risen Books. Here's what the story is about:
Professor Cassie Larson leads a life her undergrad students hope to attain, until she tumbles into the North Sea and is sucked down into a swirling vortex…and a different century.
Alarik, son of a Viking chieftain, is blamed for a murder he didn’t commit—or did he? He can’t remember. On the run, saving a half-drowned foreign woman wasn’t in his plan.
Ragnar is a converted pagan shunned by many but determined to prove his Cousin Alarik’s innocence. He didn’t count on falling in love with Cassie or the deadly presence of evil that threatens his village in Alarik’s absence.
What inspired you to write Undercurrent?
There’s an old family story my mom told me about her mom, Clara Brekke. Sometime back in the early 1900’s, Clara’s father took her two-year-old sister and walked out the front door. Just like that. No bags packed. Not a word about where they were going or when they’d return. Nothing. No one ever heard from them again. As a result, I’ve always been curious about missing people. Assuming they’ve not met with foul play, where exactly do they go?
This is your second novel. Both are set in Europe and both involve time travel. What draws you to these topics that you want to revisit them?
Curiosity or psychosis—take your pick. I don’t have a tangible explanation for why the past intrigues me. Sometimes I wonder why God placed me in twenty-first century America instead of medieval England…and then I remember I probably couldn’t live without lattes and toilet paper.
Although I usually include romantic elements in my own novels, I confess I usually prefer to read "guy stuff" like thrillers and mysteries. Perhaps because a lot of romance out there is very formulaic. What makes your stories different from all the other romances out there?
Nothing makes me want to slam shut a book faster than formula romance. Gag. Want to know how I really feel? Seriously, what’s the point in reading a story when you know from the beginning who’s going to end up with who? I like to keep the reader guessing, which sometimes involves killing off a main character to throw them off the trail. But that’s just part of it. I also weave in other elements such as mystery, danger, adventure. I don’t write love stories. I write stories that include love. After all, there is more to life than romance. Shhh. Don’t tell my husband I said that.
What do you strive for with your books? Is there a theme you want to convey to your readers other than entertainment?
Every author’s got an agenda, and if they say they don’t, they’re lying. My goal is to impart Biblical truths via the medium of fiction. Sometimes God’s word is more palatable in story format. Jesus told gobs of stories, and while I don’t claim to use the technique with anywhere near as much skill, it’s still the bullseye I aim to hit.
Tell me about the research you did about the Viking era. Was it fun? How did you tackle it?
I adore research. It’s a great excuse to buy more books. The one-click button on Amazon is my best friend. After I filled my bookshelves, I moved on to printing out reams of paper from Internet sites about Vikings. But my favorite way to research is to send out e-mails asking for specific information from experts. More often than not, people love to share their knowledge. I heard back from college professors, archeologists, even ship building experts, and gained valuable material from those in the know.
What is your next project?
I’m still percolating a few ideas but you can bet it will involve history.