Bestselling saga author Mary Wood shares what it is about the genre that makes it so special.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a saga has its roots in Old Norse or Old Icelandic, and is a long, involved story, account, or series of incidents – sounds boring, doesn’t it? Like sitting at grandma’s knee and listening to her narrate a tale from her younger days, which goes off on so many tangents that you almost fall asleep by the time she gets to the end.
A well written and researched saga novel is anything but boring. Instead, it’s an emotional journey through the life of a central character, usually a strong woman, who faces adversity with courage and who battles against all that is thrown at her and wins through in the end.
To me readers of sagas should become this woman. They should feel every pain that she feels - cry when she does, laugh when she does and will her to triumph. The tension of not knowing whether she will, or how she can is what keeps you turning the pages.
Sagas are storytelling at its very best. They’re a transportation into life as our great grandmothers experienced it, when the majority of women didn’t have a voice. When domestic violence was looked upon as a man’s right to keep his ‘missus in check’, and there was ‘no such thing’ as rape, and its consequences were dealt with by locking the woman away in a convent for ‘fallen women’. When daughters of the aristocracy could be forced into a loveless marriage for title, or money. And when, in times of war, women were called upon to step up to the challenges of nursing, factory work, keeping the home fires burning or even Secret Service work.
Above all, a saga is our fascinating, hard-fought-through, social history brought to life. It is a celebration of the women who went before us and paved the way through their courage and suffering, so that we, the women of today, do have a voice.
If we, the authors of sagas, can achieve bringing all of this to our readers then we have done our job.
You can see more from Mary on her Twitter: @AuthorMary and on tour for Brighter Days Ahead (dates below).