An Interview with
Interviewer Luan Gaines: What was the inspiration for of this particular story? Is The Thrall’s Tale a consequence of your work as an historian?
Judith Lindbergh: It all happened rather by accident. I had no particular interest in the Viking period, although history, archaeology, anthropology, and myth have always fascinated me. I was with my husband in downtown Manhattan many years ago. It was a cold, gray day, and we were just meandering, when we noticed a crowd forming at the docks at South Street Seaport. We worked our way through, and discovered three Viking ships moored there – full-scale replicas that had sailed from Norway to Iceland, Greenland, and Canada, then down the North American coast, following Leif Eiriksson’s journey to explore the New World – Vinland, as he called it – over 1000 years ago.
What first struck me was the size of the ships – barely bigger than oversized rowboats, maybe thirty or forty feet long, and completely open to the wind and sea. They seemed utterly vulnerable, a description I never would have thought to apply to the Viking culture. The second thing that caught my eye was a woman on one of the ships. She was clearly a member of the crew, working at the ropes, wearing a big, Icelandic fisherman’s sweater, her blond hair piled up haphazardly on her head. Yet she was the most extraordinarily beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
I’d never really thought of women sailing on Viking ships, or really of women at all in the Viking context. I began to research, and soon came across the Vinland Sagas, recounting the establishment of the Norse Greenlandic settlements. Somehow that remote location and enigmatic time provided a perfect setting for a story forming in my mind that revolved around the woman I had seen.
Ironically, my work as an historian is entirely an outgrowth of my research for The Thrall’s Tale, rather than the other way around. Though my study and travels may have made me an “expert” in Old Norse Greenland, I have always been, first and foremost, a novelist. My efforts in the field have always been colored by my awareness of my novel’s intent, my characters’ experience and worldview.
In the course of their migration, the Norse hope to find a more fruitful existence in their new land. In what way, then, is Greenland a disappointment when they finally reach their destination?
In fact, Greenland was probably not disappointing to the Norse settlers. In many ways Greenland’s landscape, with its deep, icy fjords, glaciers, and towering mountain cliffs, echoed homelands they’d left behind in Iceland and Scandinavia. Even the seemingly deceptive misnomer Greenland, by which Eirik the Red purportedly fooled people into following him there, is probably more accurate than one might think. Greenland was and still is somewhat green in the deep inner fjords where the Norse settled.
The Norse also had the advantage of arriving in Greenland during the Medieval Warm Period, a climatic era that lasted from around the 10th to the 14th century. At this time the northern seas were relatively free of ice, and the protected meadows surrounding the inland fjords would have been well suited for traditional Norse farming and animal husbandry. There is even evidence of trees in Greenland at the beginning of the settlement period, as Katla mentions when they first arrive. However, existing in such a fragile landscape, once the trees were hewn, they did not regenerate.
Life in Greenland was extremely challenging, but probably not much more so than elsewhere in the Viking sphere. To the Norse, Greenland was a vast, unclaimed territory waiting to be exploited. Besides farming, which turned out to be marginal over time, Greenland’s promise lay in its wildlife. Norsemen like Thorhall the Hunter, a character I borrowed from the Vinland Sagas, preyed on walrus, seals, whales, polar bears, and birds, all of which, in whole or part, were greatly valued both at home and in European markets.
For several centuries, the Norse settlements existed and even prospered, until the Medieval Warming Period came to an end. The mid-14th century saw the beginning of what is called the Little Ice Age. Although temperatures decreased only a couple of degrees, glaciers and pack ice began to advance, and growing seasons shortened, impacting on the Norse’s traditional agriculture. Sometime within the following century, the settlers abandoned Greenland, though exactly how, when, and why is still much debated.
The pagan gods have ruled the fortunes of these people, blood sacrifices common to placate Odin. Though Christianity is but a speck on the horizon, some few, like Katla’s mother, cling to the promise of a new god. Why? How much of the change from the old to the new is based on economic reality vs. a true infusion of Christian faith?
Christianity was accepted in the Viking realm very late compared with other European countries. However encounters between the faiths were frequent, if hostile, with many Viking slaves, like Katla’s mother, abducted from Christian lands. Increasingly toward the end of the 10th century, Christians of all social strata were penetrating, co-existing, and exerting their influence on Norse beliefs.
Christianity offered many advantages, but not all of them spiritual. History tells that pressure to convert originated with the process of king-making in Norway and other Scandinavian countries. The Catholic Church and Christianized nations encouraged the consolidation of power in Viking lands, hoping to quell the incessant hostilities, and offering political sophistication and valuable alignments as incentive. Christianized nobles and kings controlled centralized European trading posts, formed in part in direct reaction to Viking incursions. Their power and influence created a barrier against trading with pagans. Ironically, the Church’s own interest in Greenlandic goods like walrus ivory, favored for religious carving, created another economic incentive for Greenlanders’ conversion.
Some conversions were not permanent. Often a disinclined pagan might “primesign”, make the sign of the cross, to imply acceptance of the new faith. Historian Gwyn Jones states that this may have been the case with Eirik the Red, feigning belief in order to live in peace with his adamantly Christianized wife and other settlers.
On a more fundamental level, Christianity helped break the ingrained ties to vengeance and violence inherent in Viking life. Christianity also helped rectify some of the inequities of a hierarchical social structure, including the freeing of slaves. For Katla, recollections of her mother’s fervent Christian faith gave comfort and sustenance through many trials. But for the Greenlandic society at large, Christianity’s spiritual message may have been a bit longer in coming.
Why did you couch the emotional core of the novel in the lives of Thorbjorg the Seer, Katla the thrall and Bibrau the changeling? Do such labels inform the lives of these protagonists?
My character Thorbjorg the Seeress actually originates from one of the Vinland Sagas – Eirik’s Saga – in which she appears in a single scene foretelling the end of a terrible famine. Many names in the Old Icelandic sagas include secondary designations often describing a person’s character, appearance or past actions. Eirik the Red, Leif the Lucky, Harald Bluetooth, and Aud the Deep-minded are all authentic appellations from Scandinavian history. Neither Katla nor Bibrau have such distinct designations, though Katla is sometimes called Katla the Christian by her fellow thralls. I tried to use these labels as a reflection of Norse culture as much as any indicator of a character’s persona.
I chose three women protagonists because I wanted to tell a tale of marginalized people in a marginalized society. To me, Greenland is both geographically and psychologically as far to the edge as one can travel. And women in Norse culture are essentially invisible, with a few rare exceptions from the sagas. But there were obviously women – wives, mothers, daughters, healers, prophetesses, goddesses, and slaves. I cannot imagine a more marginalized individual than a female slave in Viking Greenland.
Most of us live lives that are essentially insignificant in the scheme of history. And yet we live, want, love, lose, hurt, mourn. To these unnoticed people, I wanted to give the spotlight. In The Thrall’s Tale, the historically important characters, like Leif Eiriksson and Eirik the Red, take second stage.
Katla’s world is destroyed by an act of unspeakable brutality, yet she receives comfort only from Thorbjorg the Seer. Why do the other thralls shun Katla?
Fear of retribution, shock, powerlessness, and well established disdain keep all but Katla’s closest friend, Inga, from giving her comfort. Katla had always been perceived as snobbish, favored and protected by her master over all the other household thralls, allowed to resist her master’s son Torvard’s persistent attentions. When Torvard attacks her, it seems almost by right. She is his father’s property, and one day will be Torvard’s. Even Katla’s admirer Ossur stays away, knowing he has no power to interfere or influence, consumed by guilt that his attentions caused such unspeakable violence.
The attack is not perceived as a violation of either property or law. Viking law granted masters absolute authority over their thralls. Unwanted children could be left on the cliffs, exposed until death. Women could be used for their master’s pleasure, even if they were committed to another. Slaves could be killed by their master with no retribution, though a master expected payment if his property was killed by another. Only Torvard’s father could have enacted punishment. He chose not to because Torvard was his first son and heir. Public castigation would have infringed on Torvard’s social status where he vied on a par with Eirik the Red’s son, Leif Eiriksson, in prominence. Thorbjorg herself can only curse Torvard: “He will pay, in time, in some subtle way.” And he does pay through his excruciating marriage to Eirik the Red’s illegitimate daughter, Freydis. Overbearing, vicious, and manipulative, as is well documented in the Vinland Sagas, Freydis shatters Torvard’s audacity until he is impotent in both body and spirit, standing publicly humiliated before Leif Eiriksson’s renown.
Thorbjorg’s compassion is shown in purposeful contrast. She herself is shunned and feared, suspected of being a “witch”, ostracized by community after community until she is pressed to the literal edge of the Viking sphere. Yet from this pagan seeress the greatest sympathy flows. My hope was to show that compassion does not necessarily arise from a particular belief, but from a state of grace inherent in the human heart.
Katla rejects her daughter even before her birth, unable to bear the existence of a daily reminder of her humiliation. How does Katla’s hate twist Bibrau’s life from the child’s earliest years?
There is a medieval folk belief that a pregnant woman can shape a fetus with her thoughts. So it is with Katla’s hatred for the child growing within her. Katla’s disgrace, anger, loss, and upheaval are entirely laid upon her unborn child. From the moment of her birth, Bibrau displays a preternatural consciousness, as if she’s already heard and felt every bit of Katla’s rancor, even the fantastic claim that Bibrau was conceived by the Mountain King, a supernatural demon lover.
Bibrau lives up to her mother’s assertion. She is perverse, vengeful, taciturn, reclusive, hated and suspected by all, taunted by children, shunned by adults. She never knows acceptance or affection except from Thorbjorg, who has seen in a vision that Bibrau is to be her salvation, heir to all of the great god Odin’s wisdom.
From this contrast grows the root of Bibrau’s power. She learns all the skill and magic at Thorbjorg’s disposal. Yet she wields this wisdom for only one cruel purpose – to punish her mother for her rejection. Everything Thorbjorg teaches is twisted to that end: to demand, coerce, chastise, and defile her mother’s absent love. All the good that Thorbjorg seeks to bring through and to Bibrau is tainted by her semi-conscious, unsatisfiable longing to be loved by the mother she intends to destroy.
What is the significance of Bibrau’s silence? Does silence increase or decrease her power over others?
Bibrau is, for me, a “silent scream”. She personifies all the terrible thoughts that one can have in a moment of rage, or at the realization of hatred. Her silence is at the very core of her belligerence and power. By making her mute by choice, I freed Bibrau to say anything, do anything, and no one would ever know her true intent except the reader.
Speaking would be a way of giving in – giving credence to those she most disparages. Her silence forces others to presume her intent. She quickly learns to manipulate their misperceptions to her own purposes.
But occasionally, her silence makes her vulnerable. She cannot – or will not – defend herself verbally (even if her actions were defensible), and ends up victim to her own plots and fate. Perhaps one of the most powerful moments in the book for me is the one time she breaks her silence. But by then it is too late, and the noise she makes essentially shatters her strength and symbolizes her impotence and inevitable self-destruction.
Why does Thorbjorg accept Bibrau as her foster-daughter and apprentice? What does she see in this daughter of a thrall?
Thorbjorg knows that the Norns of fate are calling her, that the thread of her life is almost at an end. Yet all she cherished in life has been lost – her sisters, her husband, her children – all murdered. There is no one to take her place in service to Odin until the god comes in a vision and promises her that the child in Katla’s womb will be their heir.
When Bibrau is born, her uncanny appearance, with pale blue eyes and a face like the moon, echoes the serene strength Thorbjorg herself has tried to cultivate. Bibrau’s insensitivity to fear and natural awareness of the unseen spirits all point to the wisdom and correctness of Odin’s choice. But Thorbjorg is blinded by her own desperation, unable to see that Odin is weakening, soon to be paralyzed by the unstoppable juggernaut of Christianity. Katla, in contrast, sees Bibrau’s traits as viciousness and cruelty, and in the end, she would be right.
How does their harsh existence determine the direction of these three women’s lives? Do they enjoy any real choices in their patriarchal society?
Women’s roles in Norse society were fairly fixed as a matter of survival. Life in the Viking world was harsh, whether in Scandinavia, Iceland, or Greenland, requiring stamina from all members in a clearly defined social order made up of fixed classes and gender roles.
Free women had few legal rights or privileges, and slave women had virtually none. Only widows like Thorbjorg the Seeress experienced anything close to independence. Nonetheless, free women could wield significant power and influence, as emblemized by the housewife’s keys worn around the waist. Women maintained farms and households, especially when men were away at battle, hunting, or trade. Women were responsible for weaving, creating cloth not only for their own households, but as a valuable commodity. Women also acted as healers and priestesses, as Thorbjorg does, providing vital services and comfort to the community.
But thralls were essentially at the mercy of their masters. They had no rights to property, in marriage, or as parents, no voice in public assemblies or legal proceedings, and no right to bear arms. Slaves could be freed only as a gift or reward from their masters, when freedom was purchased by another, or if they somehow earned enough to free themselves. Certainly Katla feels keenly the burdens of her bondage. The events which so brutally shape her life are entirely the result of her servitude. Though Bibrau rejects her state through Thorbjorg’s fosterage, she, too, is limited by both youth and status. Meanwhile, Thorbjorg, though free, has suffered greatly at the hands of her society. In Greenland she settles in a remote fjord, attempting to isolate herself from significant contact even with her peers, hoping to create a safe haven from the threats that have plagued her. But survival in a hard land requires interdependence and cooperation, and eventually society exerts its pressures on Thorbjorg and draws her again into confrontation and discord.
Bibrau is driven to destroy every potential relationship, even Thorbjorg’s trust in her as a successor. Was there a point in her childhood when Bibrau could have been saved from her internal demons?
In many ways, Bibrau is an allegorical character, infused with the savagery of her conception, brutally twisted by her hunger for revenge. She is the embodiment of her father’s unrestrained rage and jealousy, inflamed and nurtured by her mother’s powerlessness and hate. If ever Bibrau could have been redeemed, the chance was lost at the very moment she was rooted in the womb.
“Changeling” is a taunt Bibrau embraces and tries to bring into reality. In fact, the question of what is real here is purposely obscured. Perhaps Bibrau is a changeling on some level – a demon child, switched at birth, intent to do damage in the human world.
Bibrau’s objective is to remake the world in her own image, to gain control over a society that has always held her at odds. Thorbjorg’s fosterage becomes simply a tool for her. Bibrau never really cares to fulfill Thorbjorg’s expectations. She uses every bit of Thorbjorg’s kindness and tutelage to slowly plot and plan to have her vengeance. As Thorbjorg grows weaker, bereft of Odin’s guidance and as paralyzed as the god himself at the vision of Christianity’s impending dominion, Bibrau uses her mistress’ uncertainty and sudden dependence to position herself and manipulate her father Torvard to serve her ultimate retribution, punishing her mother for her very existence and destroying every hope for redemption for herself, Thorbjorg, and symbolically, the pagan world.
Norse society is rigid and superstitious, but Christianity is equally as restrictive. In a practical sense, in the context of the novel, how much difference is there in these religions?
That was, in fact, one of my underlying objectives: to display the limitations of rigid faith, the destructive force of intolerance and lacking compassion, irrelevant of source or core beliefs. My feeling is that compassion is an inherent human trait, not one exclusively available to a particular religion. In the same sense as human violence and fear of the “other” are pervasive, human cooperation is evident throughout history and even prehistory. Examples have been found even in Neolithic sites of surgeries attempting to repair dangerous injuries, and graves of disabled or deformed humans who were clearly cared for long after their usefulness had waned.
Working at odds with the common preconception, I wanted to show that a pagan priestess, intimidating even to her peers, could draw on her greater self to embrace, love, care, and lend sustenance, while others around her sat in judgment and did nothing. I couched Thorbjorg’s sympathy in coldness and distance, restricted by the pain of persecution and loss she has suffered, but also by the beliefs of her own people. This dichotomy spoke to me, for even Thorbjorg is trapped, as she relates in Chapter IV with the story of the god Rig who is said to have birthed the three classes of humans: Jarls, who are chieftains and kings, Karls, who are free yeomen, and those who are born to bear others’ burdens, thralls. But Thorbjorg looks beyond class in her compassion, while often in the novel, Christian fervor trounces tolerance. The difference between religions, in this sense, is not so much in beliefs but in actual practice, individually – in how deeply and truly one person can uphold and enact their faith and sense of rightness – righteousness – in their world.
The priest asks a great sacrifice of Katla, while holding her up as an example of Christian forgiveness. How does this priest’s demand deny Katla her own emotions and why does she submit to his demands?
The priest asks Katla to forgive the man who brutally raped her. At this point in the book, it is a very old violation, but one that has informed every aspect of Katla’s life since it occurred. Although the priest ministers to Katla with care and concern, his ultimate purpose is not to help Katla heal her ancient pain. He is consumed with perpetuating Christian teachings, with consolidating support among the chieftains in Greenland, and with showing the power and strength of the new religion. If a wronged and ill-used woman – no less a former thrall, assumed by nature to be stupid as a mule – can be shown to develop human compassion and forgiveness in the light of Christ, then surely far greater good can come from Christ’s teachings to more powerful and enlightened converts.
Ultimately, Katla is still in service to others. Even free, as a woman she has few rights. She is, if not her husband’s property per se, then an extension of his will. Her husband begs her to submit to the priest’s petition, to accept and forgive for the greater good. But even more powerfully, as a thrall since birth, Katla is conditioned to serve and submit. Her feelings have always been denied her intrinsically. Though in her heart she bears the anguish of this double-sacrifice, she can imagine no other way.
Thorbjorg is aware of the coming changes, although unable to articulate her concerns after reading the runes. Yet all view her as a great seer, drawing comfort from her casting. What does Thorbjorg see as her duty to the people? Does she truly believe Bibrau can succeed her? Why/ why not?
Thorbjorg has long harbored doubts about Bibrau. She has witnessed her uncanny abilities, but sees also that Bibrau is drawn to the darker forces, the invisibles who live in the earth and stones, the creeks and glaciers, beings who preceded even the powerful Norse gods like Odin and Thor. These beings, Thorbjorg knows, are not to be trusted. They would take back the earth and return it to chaos if they could. But Thorbjorg cannot dismiss Bibrau, who was essentially given to her in a prophesy from Odin around the time of the girl’s conception. She would not question the choice or will of her patron god.
Thorbjorg’s greatness lies in her authenticity. She truly believes and serves Odin with all her being. She willingly sacrifices everything to serve his purpose, and trusts implicitly in the rightness of the visions he gives her. When Odin sends a vision of Thor’s hammer transforming to a cross, and a man in long black robes holding white leaves falling from his fingers, Thorbjorg senses not only her own bewilderment, but her god’s. The image is of Christianity; the leaves are pages of the Bible. Yet neither Thorbjorg nor Odin fully understand or accept their fate. From that moment, Odin is silent, paralyzed by the vision and what is to come, as is Thorbjorg.
Without Odin’s guidance, Thorbjorg can no longer effectively serve her people. When they beg it of her, she does what she can. She offers tricks, a performance of divination, hollow of true connection with her god, but enough to placate, comfort and guide, using her own basic human understanding, experience, and compassion. She is dispirited by her emptiness, and grows more and more impotent, unwilling or unable to fake what she once felt so earnestly. She sees in Bibrau some hope, for her rune castings seem vibrant, but Thorbjorg fears, rightly so, that the power behind them comes from a darker, more insidious realm.
How does not knowing her father’s identity make Bibrau more vulnerable in society? When she does learn his identity, does this knowledge make her life better or worse?
As the unacknowledged bastard child of a bondwoman, Bibrau’s status in society is unambiguous. She is the lowest of the low. A non-entity. Except for Thorbjorg’s interest and fosterage, she could easily have been abandoned to exposure and death at her birth, and no one – not even her own mother – could have objected.
Had her father chosen to recognizes her, he would have concretized her place in the Greenland community. Though Viking law would still associate Bibrau with her slave-born mother, a public declaration of her parentage would have had social, if not legal, force. Bibrau could potentially have risen to a par with someone like Freydis Eiriksdatter, Eirik the Red’s illegitimate daughter, whose notoriously ruthless and manipulative nature already exerted a psychologically damaging influence on her husband, Bibrau’s father, Torvard.
Keeping Bibrau in the dark is an effort both to protect and control her. From Katla’s perspective, if Bibrau’s father won’t acknowledge her, Katla, as a thrall, has no right to, and does neither of them any good by revealing the truth. The knowledge would reopen the wounds of her own violation, and leave them both vulnerable to abuse and ridicule. Finally, it might give Bibrau more reason to pursue her strangely twisted fascination with Torvard.
When she does intuit his identity, Bibrau wields it like a knife, using her well-honed skills of manipulation (both literal and through the mystical realm) to control and exploit him. To her, this knowledge is a triumph, perfectly suited to her plan. But it is also yet another step on her path to self-destruction.
Thorbjorg, Katla and Bibrau’s dramas are small in the grand design, yet significant, because these women illustrate the faceless souls who people history. How does a novel like The Thrall’s Tale help us view history with a more compassionate and objective eye? Are there universal lessons here?
If there are universal lessons, perhaps they are that all people, through every culture and religion, at every point in history, and at every social strata, are longing for many of the same things: happiness, fulfillment, respect, love, acceptance. They also suffer from many of the same faults: pride, prejudice, hunger for power, violence, greed. Though living in an obscure land at a time mostly forgotten, the Greenlanders – or the Vikings, so plagued by their barbarian stereotype – were no less human than people in our own time. They had thoughts, feelings, needs. They had trials and triumphs. They struggled greatly and, in many ways, succeeded in a landscape that is incredibly difficult even in the modern day. They had to have had great fortitude and faith, support from a community that cooperated and respected the rule of law, and ties to a network of trade and political alliances without which they would never have been able to survive. Their methods, beliefs, and practices – both practical and spiritual – were a matter of long trial and well tested theory. That they abandoned their ancient faith may not have been because it had somehow failed them. Perhaps it was simply that they were amenable to the pragmatic force of change.
What would you like readers to take away from The Thrall’s Tale?
I hope The Thrall’s Tale will be read on many levels. The three women’s stories are each a cautionary tale on the inequity of fate, and also its inevitability. The women lived at a time when fate was implicit. The Norns, equivalent to the Greek Moirae or Fates, wove the pattern of every life and determined when each life thread would end. There was no true sense of self-determination, of choices beyond what life’s odd fortunes had set out for them. Yet within that frame, these women were human, often balking at their destiny even as they were resigned.
The Thrall’s Tale breathes life into a marginalized, forgotten society. Modern thinkers and writers often focus on the great cultures of Egypt, Greece, Rome or Renaissance Europe. Though all are thoroughly fascinating places and times in history, there are many other cultures and peoples left unexplored. Like Greenland itself, at the outer reaches of human awareness, but holding within it such beauty, history, and vitality, I hope The Thrall’s Tale will open readers’ awareness to other worlds.
Finally, I hope The Thrall's Tale will speak of compassion for a world that is lost. Long ago, what we now call “mythology” was actually the sacred guiding vision that informed whole communities in their social, ethical, and spiritual existence. In The Thrall’s Tale, Thorbjorg serves her faith with the same dedication a modern devotee might serve his or her own conception of God. But the Christian priest in my novel condemns her actions and teachings, declaring her practices dangerous and deceitful. Fervor such as his, as I imagine it, may have been what eventually relegated pagan practices to the realm of sorcery. But, in essence, Thorbjorg’s compassion outshines even that of most of the book’s faithful Christians. Her place in the community was to serve, comfort, and heal, just as religious leaders are charged today. Though her methods may have been different, even repulsive by modern standards, her goals were very much the same. As Thorbjorg says of the gods at the end of the novel, “It matters not – not what they are named, so long as they are called.”
Given your historical background, was writing this novel a rewarding experience for you? What was the most challenging part? The most enjoyable?
I absolutely adored the research. It was like being on an archaeological dig of my own making, as I uncovered fragments of detail and placed them together in the growing mosaic of my outline, with pages and pages of character description. I also loved discovering and working in the characters’ voices. My background is as a theatrical performer, and writing in first person was a bit like working on several extremely extended monologues. I often read my work aloud to get a visceral sense of the character’s emotional colors, sometimes even getting up and walking, miming the actions the characters were experiencing, feeling in my body their pain, anguish, hope, desire.
Finding language that would suit my period and yet still be comprehensible was a tremendous challenge. I chose not to write in a contemporary tone, feeling I would miss an essential flavor in my narrative by overlooking language’s power to displace and transform. I tried to create language that was rich, layered and archaic, with echoes and music in mind, using repeated words, unconventional syntax, alliteration, and other poetic forms to give a sense of depth and movement, but also to create some distance from our own time.
Are you currently engaged in another project? If so, can you share something about it with us?
Yes, I’m deeply involved in a new novel. I don’t want to say too much – I’m slightly superstitious. It’s again historical, again about women, but set in a very different place and time.
Do you have any advice for would-be writers?
One word particularly: Continue. When I told a friend about the book’s sale, she said, “I’m impressed – not so much with what’s happened, as with the fact that you stuck with it all these years.” I wrote nearly every day of the last fifteen years, laboring under cover of secrecy at dull day jobs where I would turn my papers over whenever someone came by with a project; or late at night while the rest of the household slept, dozing myself more often than not, my fingers stuck on the “mmmmmmmmmmmm…” of the keyboard.
Many talents, I believe, go unnoticed. Only luck and circumstances bring them to the fore. But anyone who does the work of writing – or any creative task – must be commended and encouraged, even if the “break” never comes. Let go of the goal. Let the work serve itself. Listen to the soul that demands to speak. Continue.
Judith Lindbergh’s work has appeared in Archaeology Magazine and in connection with the Smithsonian’s exhibition Vikings:The North Atlantic Saga. The Thrall’s Tale is her first novel.
Contributing reviewer Luan Gaines interviewed Judith Lindbergh, author of The Thrall's Tale (see accompanying review), about her book via email for curledup.com. Luan Gaines/2005.