Author, Spotlight

Heather Day Gilbert: author spotlight

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Merciful heavens, y’all!!! Confession time… I have a deep-rooted fondness for Vikings (and Russians and mountain men and cowboys and all-around rugged hard-working masculine heroes)! Today’s featured author is my go-to for excellent Viking stories and she brought friends and a fantabulous giveaway!!!

About the Author

Heather Day GilbertHeather Day Gilbert, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood.

You can find Heather’s Viking historicals and West Virginia mystery/suspense novels here. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.”

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Five Favorite Vikings

Heather: I’ve written quite a few Viking characters over the years, and yes, I do play favorites!

Beth: I am beside myself excited right now! Vikings! Eeep!

God's Daughter by Heather Day GilbertHeather: Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, heroine of God’s Daughter, was a real woman who was known for being a Christian Viking. As I read The Sagas of Icelanders, I realized she was also incredibly brave. Historically, two of her husbands died, then she remarried a trader (Thorfinn Karlsefni), and they sailed to North America to gather goods.

She also gave birth to the first documented European baby on these shores. She was ALSO known for being incredibly beautiful and kind, which I tried to bring out in the book (how that beauty can also be a kind of curse). As I got into my fictional Gudrid’s head, I found she’s the type of woman who’s always looking back, wondering what if, and God had to bring her to a place where she was looking forward, learning to trust her husband.

Beth: Gudrid’s story is completely fascinating. I adore her!

Michael Fassbender as Thorfinn KarlsefniHeather: Thorfinn Karlsefni, Gudrid’s husband, is an incredibly powerful, natural leader (I was picturing Michael Fassbender here!). But this also means sometimes he’s a man of fewer words and he doesn’t always know how to really show up for Gudrid.

By the end of God’s Daughter, we see he truly has been there for her all along, but in the follow-up novel, Forest Child, we see Gudrid struggling with Thorfinn’s mom, because she’s actually not allowed to live at his family home for a time. This was taken straight out of the saga accounts, so it made me wonder how Gudrid dealt with being shunned by her mother-in-law after being highly respected everywhere else she went (it also made me wonder how Thorfinn dealt with being in the middle of that).

And I have to admit, one of the things that totally cracked me up while writing Forest Child was writing the scenes where Freydis Eiriksdottir and Thorfinn interact. They’re both powerful, deadly leaders, yet they have an unspoken respect for each other.

Beth: Those strong and silent (or mostly silent) types get me every time!

Forest Child by Heather Day GilbertHeather: Freydis Eiriksdottir is the heroine of Forest Child. She’s Eirik the Red’s illegitimate daughter (born of a mistress, thus her title, “forest child”).

Let’s just say she has some serious issues with trying to prove she’s just as strong as a man, and while she definitely succeeds in doing that (she was known for being a ruthless killer and for organizing her own voyage to North America), she begins to realize there’s a part of her she has tamped down and ignored—her heart.

And acknowledging that nearly kills her. Pretty sure Freydis has my personality type (ENTJ), so while I had to pray my way through some of the murderous scenes in the book, I think she also became much more three-dimensional to me and now, I would have to say she’s my favorite Viking that I’ve written. ????

Beth: She is a force to be reckoned with, no doubt!

Heather: Snorri Thorbrandsson was Thorfinn Karlsefni’s trading partner, and a real heart-stealer in God’s Daughter. While Thorfinn was out scouting for Vinland, Snorri stayed behind at the camp and cared for and protected Gudrid and her child (I found it interesting Gudrid/Thorfinn really did name their child Snorri, so I had to wonder if they named him for Snorri Thorbrandsson). Snorri T. is a soft-hearted man (but also a fearsome warrior) who, among others, has been in love with Gudrid for a while.

Beth: Aside from crushing on another man’s wife, Snorri is the best kind of hero.

Lasselom for Leif EirikssonHeather: Leif Eiriksson was…well, I think you know who he was! He sailed to North America before the voyages described in my books. He took over the family farm in Greenland.

Leif will always have a little part of my heart. He’s a jokester, but his jokes are sometimes cutting. He’s more of a leader by force instead of respect. He doesn’t treat Freydis well and he’s kind of a “ladies’ man.” I didn’t really understand why I always love when he shows up in the story until Forest Child, when he finally stepped up in a major way and showed me there’s more to him that meets the eye (and what meets the eye is quite appealing, looks-wise!

My visual for him is Lasselom, an Instagrammer who is actually in the Norwegian navy. When I saw the first picture of him, I couldn’t believe how similar he was to the Leif in my head—boyish smirk and all). I am tempted to write a book about Leif someday.

Beth: WOWZA! These Viking characters are delectable specimens! ????


Tell us about your latest release

Heather: There’s one more Viking I wanted to mention and that actually leads into my latest release—Ari Thorvaldsson. He’s the hero in my Viking/Irish novella, The Distant Tide, which is at the start of The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection, the book I’m offering as a giveaway today.

Beth: Woo hoo!!! ???? 

Heather: Ari sails to Ireland for vengeance for his brother’s death in a raid…but let’s just say a certain dark-haired Irish princess becomes a real distraction in his mission. 😉 Ari was fun to write because while he’s handsome and honorable, he’s also a bit of a klutz! LOL. Also, it’s fun because my last name would’ve been Thorvaldsson if my great-grandparents hadn’t changed it when they came to America from Norway.

Five historical romances inspired by a message passed down through time.

Join the journey as one word etched in Latin on an ancient bronze bottle travels through the centuries to reach five young women who are struggling to maintain their faith in God and love. An Irish princess, a Scottish story weaver, a Post-Colonial nurse, a cotton mill worker, and a maid who nearly drowned each receive a message from the bottle just when they need their hope restored. But will the bottle also bring them each to a man whose love will endure?

The Message in a Bottle Romance CollectionThe Distant Tide by Heather Day Gilbert
1170: County Kerry, Ireland
When a Viking bent on revenge mistakenly raids the castle of a bookish Irish princess, will she cast her fears aside to befriend the enemy, finally realizing God’s plan for her life?

A Song in the Night by Amanda Dykes
1717: Scotland and England
When a Scottish story-weaver loses her family in a clan war, she finds herself aided by a handsome, secretive bagpiper in a race against time to reunite with someone she never dared hope she’d see again.

The Forgotten Hope by Maureen Lang
1798: New York
As a champion of the sick, a young New Yorker never doubted her worth until a new doctor arrives to work with her father, one who believes her to be nothing more than a social butterfly. Can she gain his respect—and his love?

A River Between Us by Jocelyn Green
1864: Roswell, Georgia
When a Georgian cotton mill worker is arrested and sent North, the Union officer who tries to protect her is the last person she wants to forgive—and the only man who can bring hope and healing to her heart.

The Swelling Sea by Joanne Bischof
1890: Coronado Island, California
After washing ashore on the California coastline, a young woman’s yearning to discover her past leads her to the courageous oarsman who helps her find the key.

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Beth: This book, y’all!!! You NEED this book in your life!!!


Tell us about your next release

Heather: I have just finished writing Undercut, which is Book 2 in my Hemlock Creek Suspense series (romantic suspense). This book will first release with an amazing boxed set (follow my newsletter here for updates on that!).

Undercut by Heather Day GilbertMarine sniper Isaiah (“Zane”) Boone is home from Afghanistan with more than a few ghosts. Try as he might to settle back into civilian life in small-town West Virginia, he can’t escape the conviction he’s being followed. Both Zane’s ex-wife and his psychologist claim he’s paranoid, and he can’t prove he’s not. Hoping to outrun his misery, he sets his romantic sights on the irresistible Molly McClure.

A successful wedding coordinator at the illustrious Greenbrier Resort, Molly has had plenty of wealthy men willing to open their wallets and hearts for her. But when Zane strides into the upscale Greenbrier lobby with his lumberjack boots and his troubled eyes, the attraction she’s felt since high school reawakens—and she’s willing to go way out of her comfort zone to pursue it.

When Molly becomes an innocent target, Zane realizes too late that his malevolent stalkers are very real. As a net of vengeance tightens around them, Zane gears up for a fight to the death…and Molly has just one chance to prove she can be far more than a pretty face.


Beth: I have your romantic suspense in my tbr! I need a book-cation so I can just read for days! 



Heather Day Gilbert has generously offered to send one fortunate Faithfully Bookish reader a paperback copy of The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection and a bookplate signed by all the authors!!!

The Message in a Bottle giveaway on Faithfully Bookish

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Who is YOUR favorite Viking character? 

48 thoughts on “Heather Day Gilbert: author spotlight”

  1. Thanks for the interview! I first read Heather Day Gilbert through The Message In a Bottle Romance Collection and now I have to get my hands on her other books. Especially after reading this interview!!


    1. I would love it if you read some of my other Viking tales! They’re definitely heavier historicals, being based on real people/events, but I do think it’s such an important time period, when Christianity came to the Viking world.


    1. Yes, I think both my female protagonists in this 2-book series were conflicted in many ways, but they were also very strong women who loved their children and had strong familial ties. I’d recommend reading sample chapters of God’s Daughter on Amazon and see if you enjoy being in Gudrid’s head (both books are written in first person!). 🙂


  2. Heather’s Viking books are on my TBR list so I can’t pick a favorite Viking. But I do find that culture and time period fascinating.


    1. Hope you get a chance to read more about these brave Viking women who really did sail to North America! What a voyage that must have been–not to mention what happened with the Native Americans once they got over here!


  3. I love so many of Heather’s Viking characters, but I think Gudrid is my favorite. She was a Christian Viking at a time when Vikings were still pagan, and that’s amazing. Freyda would be my second favorite character.


    1. Thanks so much, Karin! Gudrid is very special to me, as well (being my debut novel and the Viking story I felt I had to share!), and I enjoyed seeing her appear in Forest Child, too. She’s strong in her own quiet way.


    1. Yes, Freydis is a warrior woman, through and through, and I did relate to so much about her (but not the scary parts! LOL). One thing I came to admire was her unyielding determination to reach her goals and to protect those she loved.


    1. Yes, I think Leif is the one whose face always springs to mind so easily when I picture my Vikings, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because his story was so intertwined with Gudrid’s as I wrote hers. Leif is always sort of in the middle of things, even when he’s on a completely different continent.


    1. I would love if you could read my Viking books, and I watched quite a bit of Vikings, but I will say that my books are far less graphic, and they don’t glorify paganism as much as the show does (and the show also really vilifies Christianity, I felt). But yeah, that Ragnar…what are you going to do with someone like that!? LOL. I really liked Bjorn.


    1. Thanks for sharing, Trixi! I did like writing Ari’s story! Although I had some readers who REALLY wanted to know what happens to Ronan in The Distant Tide (in The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection).


  4. I haven’t had a chance to read these books yet, but from the descriptions, I really like Freydis Eiriksdottir. 🙂


    1. I wasn’t sure about Freydis at the end of God’s Daughter, but as I wrote Forest Child, she really did come to life in front of my eyes. And she’s one of my fave protagonists that I’ve written thus far.


  5. My favorite Viking is Haraldur Karlsson, an Icelandic friend here in Lubbock, Texas. He is a geologist and has been in America since the 1980’s.


    1. That is wonderful, Jennifer! I imagine Haraldur is VERY familiar with the Icelandic saga accounts I based my books on. Many Icelanders are related to the people in these stories. 🙂 Definitely a place I want to visit someday. I imagine the Texas climate is quite different than Iceland’s!


  6. I have yet to read any of these books, so I can’t choose a fav Viking. But I would love the opportunity to read them. Thanks for the chance! ????


  7. All I can think of is Prince Valiant that my Dad used to read to me from the Sunday funnies! Does Bodica count? She was a fierce warrior. Look forward to this book!


  8. I’m not a big reader of books set long enough ago to have vikings. The closest I can think of is the TV Highlander. I think he was a viking at some point…


  9. I don’t really have a favorite Viking character or hero as it’s a new subject area for me. The novella sounds really good though!


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