Written by Giles Kristian

Where Blood Runs Cold is my first contemporary thriller and I’m excited about it. I got my publishing deal back in 2007 and since then I’ve written twelve novels, eleven for Transworld (Penguin Random House) and one I co-authored with Wilbur Smith for Harper Collins. All of them were historical. I’ve raided with Vikings in the Raven and Rise of Sigurd series, I’ve galloped into the English Civil War with The Bleeding Land books, I’ve sailed with pirates in Golden Lion, and I’ve journeyed into one of Britain’s greatest myths with Lancelot and Camelot.

You could say I’ve been living in the past. However, some people might be surprised to learn that despite my love of history, things might have gone very differently. Back in 2006, I was living in New York, seeking a publishing deal for my Viking story, Raven: Blood Eye. While it was on submission, I started writing a futuristic thriller set in Arctic Norway. It was inspired by a ski trip I’d taken in Norway, during which we’d skied for miles, building igloos to sleep in along the way. That trip didn't go too well, but that’s another story. But I was so into writing that thriller that I asked a designer friend to mock up a cover, which I printed out and wrapped around a Bernard Cornwell novel because I wanted to feel what it was like to hold a hardback book with my name and book title on the cover. Anyway, I was halfway through writing the story when I received a phone call. Transworld in the U.K. wanted to publish Raven: Blood Eye. I’d pitched the idea of a trilogy (which didn't yet exist) so I got busy, and the rest is history, as they say. Until now.

Lancelot and Camelot are big books. Together they comprise nearly four hundred thousand words and they took a lot out of me emotionally. In truth I was creatively exhausted after Camelot, and I wasn't sure what to write next. But then I started thinking about that thriller idea which had lingered in my mind all those years. It would be a different book now though. I’m a father. I’ve experienced grief. I’ve more years on my back. But would Transworld buy a thriller from me after years of helping establish me as an author of historical fiction? Would my readers take a chance on something different? Would I even be able to write a thriller? I wanted to find out.

Eventually, I persuaded my publisher (phew!) and there was some talk about using a pseudonym. Having spent years building a loyal readership, that felt completely counterintuitive to me. We authors strive to build a brand, to reach the point where readers associate our names with hours of enjoyment. Why sacrifice that and start again? Besides which, I feel that, whilst it’s set in the present day, Where Blood Runs Cold is very much a Giles Kristian novel, although the writing process was different.  

I had to pare down my usual descriptive style. It’s all about momentum and action with a thriller. Still, I’ve never been good at conforming, so I had some fun with the prose. The research was infinitely easier, though. Things like, what is a good quality brand of snowshoes? Or, what’s the most popular pizza in Norway? Or, do reindeer continuously make noise (like sheep baaing) or are they mostly quiet? This stuff is a piece of cake compared with the likes of, what wildflower could one have found near the Somerset marshes in 480AD (the date is important as many species are non-native) which also has medicinal properties, and whose name has the desired lyrical quality, and whose colour or form fulfils the symbolic notion I’m trying to convey?

I loved being able to make references to popular culture and everyday objects and modern technology. I loved that a thriller should be around 80,000 words, which for me is like writing half a book! It took some doing to maintain tension with such a small cast, and to keep things fresh with so few locations. As always, though, the greatest challenge was finding the beating heart of the story. Fortunately, I feel I managed that. Where Blood Runs Cold is a survival story. A chase thriller set in the snow. But it’s also the story of a father’s struggle to come to terms with his daughter growing up, with his own mortality, and his own weakness. Of the natural order, the way the strength of the parent must inevitably fade, while the child grows and comes into her own. And the story of a daughter seeking freedom whilst coming to terms with her father’s mortality and the unalterable reality of a world without him.



Where Blood Runs Cold by Giles Kristian is published by Transworld on 24th February 2022 £14.99

available online here:   Where Blood Runs Cold: Kristian, Giles: 9781787635173: Books

Giles Kristian

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