Welcome today’s guest host, Maria Hammarblad,
author of Undercover!
Be sure to check details at the bottom of this post for how you can win a copy of Undercover!
Thank you for having me here at Paranormal Romantic Suspense! I love going on blog tours, because it’s an adventure. The virtual road meanders between computers, and one never knows where one will end up!
My new novel Undercover isn’t exactly paranormal; it’s a romantic spy story. The heroine has one super power: an eerie ability to know when people lie to her. It drives the hero nuts, because he can’t get away with any fibs. Both that and her pagan influences have been toned down in the final version of the book, but they’re still there.
Most of my books have a little touch of Wicca or mythology, and I’ve found this surprises many American readers. I think it’s a cultural thing. I’m Swedish originally, and our society is different when it comes to religion. We’re Christian in theory, but in reality, you can believe in anything you want as long as you don’t involve other people. The old Norse Gods might not be actively worshipped, but they’re around, and our traditions for major holidays are a happy mix of the old and the new.
As an example, when I grew up, my mother told me lightning is a result of electrical discharge between clouds and the ground. She also taught me lightning comes from Tor throwing his hammer across the sky. Thanks to Stan Lee, many Americans think Tor is a cartoon character. To people in Scandinavia, he’s the God of Thunder. He is the son of Oden, but not, in any way, Loke’s brother.
Swedish people like holidays. Easter is usually the first one of the year, and while it’s a Christian holiday in theory, we happily combine it with old traditions and celebrate spring equinox. The country is on the same latitude as Greenland, so we have long and cold winters. Any chance to scare winter off and make spring appear is welcome.
To celebrate Easter properly, you’re supposed to spring clean your home and get rid of all the wintery stuff. When the cleaning is done, we bring in twigs from certain trees and put them in water, so they get green leaves in time for Easter. Then, we decorate them with colorful feathers and small wooden or plastic eggs. Many decorate the outside of the houses and their yards with green leaves and feathers too. It’s awesome to see all the color in the snow!
Thursday before Easter, children dress up as cute little witches – not evil Hollywood witches, more like a cartoon version – and go from house to house asking for candy or some coins. It’s a little like American Halloween, I guess, but a spring version. For the night between Thursday and Easter Friday, we’ve mixed the traditions up a little. We think evil witches and spirits ride on brooms to “Blåkulla” that night – a mythical place where they dance with the devil. It’s important to shoot off lots of fireworks to keep them from landing prematurely. We want evil to go to Blåkulla, and not accidentally land at our house!
To make sure we scare winter off properly, we also have a holiday on the last of April. This day, people light bonfires, sing traditional songs, and shoot fireworks.
We also like to celebrate the summer solstice, especially in my part of the country. It’s the second biggest holiday after Christmas, and most businesses shut down. When I was a little girl, we celebrated Midsummer on the actual evening of the summer solstice. It became too expensive for the country as a whole, so nowadays it’s always on a Friday.
At this time a year, nights are short, and one can almost see fairies dance on the fields. We dress flagpoles up in leaves and put wreaths of flowers on them, and in the evening, we dance silly traditional dances around these midsummer poles. Girls pick seven kinds of flowers to put under their pillows in order to dream of their beloved, but they have to be careful when going into the woods, because Näcken (sort of an evil spirit) is thought to appear in streams and rivers, playing violin to lure them into the water.
I mentioned Halloween earlier. We celebrate fall equinox, of course, but Halloween as it’s celebrated here hasn’t quite caught on. It’s more of a holiday when we think of the dead, and many people go to the cemetery to put candles on graves. I’ve always assumed it’s to appease the spirits so they’ll stay in the ground and not come up to the living, but I don’t know if that’s really the case or if it’s just my imagination.
I love Sweden and the Swedish people. The world changes and we change with it, but instead of throwing out our old traditions, we mix and match. The cultural differences have followed me across the Atlantic, to America, and they also follow me in my books.
By Maria Hammarblad
Cover Artist: Gwen Phifer
When Jenny Moore meets Alexei Roshenko, it’s love at first sight. The tall, dark and handsome stranger appears to be the answer to every romantic fantasy any woman ever had. There is however more to him than meets the eye, and a dark and violent past is catching up with him. When Jenny decides to follow him back to Russia, she gets entangled in a web of deceit and secrets beyond her wildest imagination.
Enjoy the Book Trailer
Flashback, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing June 2013
Operation Earth, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing August 2013
Borealis XII, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing November 2013
About the Author
Born in Sweden in the early 1970’s, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, “The Sun Book.” They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother’s horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her.
As an adult Maria’s creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike. They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.
Besides writing and playing bass, Maria enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.
Connect With Maria!
There’s a prize!
Maria is giving away one copy of Undercover (kindle, pdf or epub winner’s choice) to one lucky commenter!
To enter, just let Maria know you enjoyed her guest post!