27 February 2009

Axe of Iron: The Settlers Book Trailer

Theresa Chaze just finished a book trailer video for my Axe of Iron series about the medieval Greenland Norse Vikings.

She puts an interesting, artistic touch on her work and you might find the :03 video enjoyable.

You can also watch it on my website

Thanks, have a great weekend.


26 February 2009

Book #2 in the Axe of Iron Series

Axe of Iron: Confrontation, the second book of the adventure packed Axe of Iron series nears completion. Publication target date remains June 2009. An excerpt from this book, and other helpful information about my books, may be found under the 'Books' tab on my website.

You came here because of your interest in the medieval Vikings. Don't miss my past blogs on the subject.

Thank you for coming by.

Best Regards,
J. A. Hunsinger

12 February 2009

Were the Vikings Victims of an Inconvenient Truth of Their Own?

From an interview of author J. A. Hunsinger by Sabrina Guice, Publicist, Smith Publicity, October 2008


What do the Vikings of Greenland, North American natives, and global climate change all have in common?

Novelist J. A. Hunsinger may know the answer. His historical adventure, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, the first in a five book series, provides a compelling answer as to why the Vikings literally disappeared from Greenland, why climate change may have been one of the culprits, and also why some American Indian tribes likely have Norse DNA.
“The Vikings lived on Greenland for 500-years, from 986 to about 1425. Nobody knows what happened to them; where they went … nothing. This leaves a large historical gap which the Axe of Iron series attempts to fill,” says Hunsinger.
“Creating this story allows me the fill in this gap, but I don’t simply create a wild answer, I offer a plausible, even likely, scenario based on years of my own research and study.”
Hunsinger’s bottom line: The Vikings went through climate change and environmental changes just as we are right now, and began to assimilate with the North American native peoples to survive.

But Axe of Iron: The Settlers serves up more than historical answers; it is a deftly crafted, dramatic and engaging read. The book follows the tale of Norsemen settlers in Greenland and the plight of the two main characters, chieftain Halfdan Ingolfsson and his second-in-command Gudbjartur Einarsson. The men, along with 315 other men, women and children set sail from their settlement on the southwestern coast of Greenland to territory south of them – the unexplored North America. Their travels bring them more than they had anticipated. Confronted with an unexpected gale, the travelers are faced with a decision, continue and face uncertain danger or seek shelter. The decision to do the latter brings them face to face with natives.

The new friendship brings some initial good fortune. Halfdan builds vital relationships with the natives, who in turn tell him of a land south along the coast with fertile ground. He and the others set out for this new land along the east coast of Hudson Bay where they find everything they sought, and soon build a permanent home in North America.

Readers discover:

  • How the Vikings settled Vinland - North America
  • How climate and environmental changes likely forced the migration of the Vikings
  • Key factors of their survival
  • Daily life and culture
  • Why they disappeared from Greenland and faded from history

Hunsinger’s research into the Medieval Norse Greenland settlements and specifically their unexplained disappearance from Greenland by the mid-15th century brings stunning reality to his books.

“It’s very important to remember that some 4000 people disappeared from history, never to be seen again. They didn't die; they didn't disappear; and they didn't go back to Europe. In my books, they all eventually join with the natives of North America and that is the premise of my entire series,” notes Hunsinger.

He adds, “While my tale is a work of fiction based on many years of dedicated research, something happened to them and several of us believe their genetic signature, the Norse DNA haplogroup R1a1, may be found in the blood of the Cree, Ojibwa, and Iroquois Indians whenever somebody actually checks.”

11 February 2009

Why the Interest in the Vikings?

I have had a lifelong infatuation with the Vikings of medieval Greenland. After reading everything available one is left with a nagging question. What happened to them? It is difficult to study them because they wrote nothing down. Everything we know comes from archaeological research and the Norse sagas. The Saga of the Greenlanders and Eirik the Red's Saga both tell stories about them, although centuries after the fact, but we know nothing about the people themselves. I decided to tell their tale using fiction because I wanted to convey to my readers what a lifetime of research has led me to believe regarding the abandonment of the two known Norse settlements on Greenland and the disappearance from history of every single settler. Nobody ever saw them again and nobody knows to this day, what happened to them. In spinning my Axe of Iron series of tales, I give my characters personalities, to make them as we are. No other author has ever told their story as I do.

One of my book reviewers, Melissa Levine, IP Book Reviewers had this to say: 'It’s the details that grab the reader’s attention in J. A. Hunsinger’s historical novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers. The book is the first installment in a planned series of stories about the migration of the Greenland Norse to North America. From the introduction, which provides background information, to the brutal ending, Hunsinger uses his extensive knowledge of the history and culture of Norsemen to craft a story that exposes the lives of an ancient people with an admirable sense of adventure and value for community.
Hunsinger teaches with the details that he infuses into this story. The reader will learn what the Norsemen ate; how they set-up temporary camps and permanent residence; how they conducted themselves in battle; and the manner in which men and women fell into intimate relationships. The importance of respect and loyalty in the culture is represented by the relationship between Halfdan and Gudbj. Their bond that is stronger than that often seen between blood brothers. There is an intense trust between them that provides the level of security needed to lead their followers while exploring a new land, surviving severe storms at sea, and battling against natives. The love and admiration between the two men is so overwhelming it frequently makes Gudbj uncomfortable. But their feelings for each other do not diminish them as men. Halfdan and Gudbj are so secure in their masculinity that they are not intimidated by the strength of their women who work as hard and love as strongly as they do.
Axe of Iron: The Settlers is a hearty, adventure-packed history lesson. I highly recommend it.'

I am pleased with her assessment of my tale. The saga continues with Axe of Iron: Confrontation. The second book of the continuing tale of the Greenland Norse people and their adventures in North America will be published in June 2009.

02 February 2009

The Story Behind the Book

In 986 several hundred medieval Norse people settled the island of Greenland. Over the five hundred year history of the two known settlements on the island's southwestern coast the population increased to as many as four thousand people. We know little about the people or the settlements because the people wrote nothing down for posterity. All we know about them comes to us from the Greenland Saga and the Saga of Eirik the Red, both written about two centuries after the facts they pretend to convey. In about the mid-fifteenth century the people abandoned their last remaining settlement, Eiriksfjord. Wherever they went, they took their ships, tools, and every useful item they possessed. Nobody knows their destination for they left not a clue. Their disappearance is the premise for my Axe of Iron series.

Everything that we know about these people, pertaining to their culture and disappearance, I have covered in detail in the Historical Perspective of my character-driven, historical fiction novel Axe of Iron: The Settlers. This is the first book of the continuing Axe of Iron series about the Greenland Norse people and what a lifetime of research has led me to believe happened to them.

My interest in the subject stems from the Norse and Germanic mythology I studied in school, my Swedish/German heritage, and the vexing question of the disappearance of four thousand people. I recognized early on that there are many people who are fascinated by the medieval Viking culture. Although the people I write about share that Viking heritage, when they sailed to Greenland and North America in the tenth and eleventh centuries they were no longer Vikings in the strict sense of the word and I do not refer to them as such.

The unknown aspects of their disappearance gives me the opportunity to use fiction to tell a tale about them that answers many of the questions about certain North American Indian tribes who exhibited characteristics, customs, and mannerisms that early explorers—eighteenth century—attributed to pre-historical European contact. The dates when these facts came to light reinforce my contention that the European contact alluded to could only have been the Greenland Norse people. My series will deal, in a fictional sense, with why tribal members of some pre-historical Indian tribes looked like white people, had customs like white people—including religious beliefs—were completely different from other tribes encountered, and welcomed the earliest white explorers with open arms.

The Greenland Norse did not disappear; they assimilated with the pre-historical North American Indians that they encountered. I believe this assimilation process was well underway by the early years of the eleventh century in the Canadian Arctic and moved south as the Medieval Warm Period gave way to the onslaught of the Mini-Ice Age. This natural climate cycle caused native peoples— including the last holdouts of Greenland Norse people remaining in Eiriksfjord—to migrate with the animals on which they subsisted.

Conventional brick and mortar archaeologists have largely ignored this controversial aspect of our pre-historical past. The path to discovery remains blurred by the passage of one thousand years of time. There are no ruins or pyramids to create entire cultures around, and few artifacts to discover. The presence of the Greenland Norse people on this continent is but an echo from the dim past, but it is here nonetheless.

Scientists have found Norse DNA in Greenland and Baffin Island Inuit people. If somebody will look, perhaps Norse DNA, haplogroup R1a1, will be found in members of contemporary Indian tribes in northeastern and north central North America. Only then will we know the fate of the Greenland Norse people.

As I wrote in the Historical Perspective of Axe of Iron: The Settlers,
more than 40–generations have elapsed since they came to this continent. Now their very existence, everything they accomplished, has faded from the collective memory of all the peoples they contacted.
I prefer to believe the four thousand live on however, their genetic makeup diluted by the intervening centuries of time. They are still here smiling back at us from the faces of the Inuit Greenlanders, Cree, Ojibwa, and Iroquois with whom they joined so long ago.

That is why I have a story to tell, a story as seen through the eyes of my characters.