The recent UK television series, Time, explored some interesting issues regarding prisons, crime and forgiveness. As you watched the three part series, you were able to put yourself in the place of the main character, excellently played by Sean Bean. He had killed a cyclist through drink driving and left the scene of the accident. In prison now, not only is the family of the man he killed unable to forgive him, he is unable to forgive himself, haunted by what he has done. Forgiveness is a hard issue. Fellow Dutch writer, Maressa Mortimer, deals with this self same issue in her novella, Viking Ferry. I have asked her a few questions about the book.
Your book deals with the whole subject of forgiveness and how hard it sometimes is to forgive those who have mistreated us or misused us. It’s a huge topic, especially for the Christian. Can you comment?
I think there are a lot of misconceptions about forgiveness. We can forgive someone, until we remember another detail, and we’re angry all over again. I think it is a bit like grief, not a one off thing. It’s certainly easier said than done, and sometimes I think we are afraid that forgiving someone means there won’t be consequences, which isn’t true. Often we think of reasons why we shouldn’t forgive, and the book’s idea of not being sure if the characters are real or not, seems like a good excuse for harbouring anger!
Why did you decide to write a book about the Vikings? What is your interest in this period of history and how did you do that research?
I used to read a Viking series in the Netherlands, which is an amazing couple of books. I wondered what would happen if you woke up on the ferry and then found a bunch of Vikings. I got more interested in them and read quite a lot about them. I’m now doing a course about Vikings.
Did you research the language they would have used ? I loved the way in which you slipped in words like ‘Holmgang’ and Trälinna.
Yes, I love languages. It turns out, there were different words for slaves, depending on the jobs they did.
Are your main characters Marieke and Gunilla, Erika and Ingeborg based on anyone in particular?
Not really. Marieke’s hair is inspired by a wonderful friend, who helped me with hair care and what you should and shouldn’t do with very curly hair!
In Chapter 4 you mention the arrival of the horses. Marieke seems very afraid of the horses. Is this fear yours or just hers?
I’m not over keen, but I know various people with a fear of particular animals, so I decided to use that.
Ingeborg seems to be Marieke’s main form of communication. Do we know how she learnt her English or is this all part of the fantasy? She is certainly Marieke’s means of escape.
Yes, I’m not quite sure where Ingeborg came from. She might turn up in my next Viking Series that I’m plotting, in which case Viking Ferry is a minor spin-off!
You also mention Marieke’s dislike of porridge. Is this something you also dislike?
I really can’t stand porridge, never could… My children and husband love it, so I do make it, as long as I don’t have to touch it. Literally!
Did you research Marieke’s clever swimming technique with her bag and coat out of the water? Maybe it’s something you have tried?
In the Netherlands, swimming with belongings or fully dressed etc, is part of your swimming certificates.
What is nasi goreng? I’m sure your readers would love to know.
It’s a delicious Indonesian rice dish, with spices and vegetables and usually pork. It can be very spicy. It is also made in the Dutch Antilles and Suriname.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I thoroughly enjoyed writing the book. So much so that I’m now researching and plotting a Viking Series, which will also include time travel. Learning more about the Vikings has been very interesting, especially as to how Christianity affected them.
Maressa has also written three other books. Her first, Sapphire Beach, was published by Onwards and Upwards but her Elabi Chronicles series – Walled City and Beyond the Hills were set in an imaginary fantasy world.