Some strange things have occasionally happened with the Dancing Priest stories. Strange, as in they anticipated some real news events. Each of the novels has an example of this, to the point where it spooked my wife and even my publisher.
And now comes Dancing Prince, published in July of this year.
In mid-September, scientists in Denmark and Armenia published a study in Nature that reported on the largest DNA study of Vikings ever done. The Vikings, as it turns out, were a far more diverse lot that anyone had previously known. Yes, a preponderance of the DNA was associated with the Nordic countries like Sweden and Denmark, but the researchers also found that the Vikings were not a homogenous group. The DNA included connections to southern Europe and Asia.
The Popular science site Inverse, in its story on the study, noted that some of the Pictish people of Ireland and Scotland had burials like Vikings.
When I wrote and finished the text of Dancing Prince, I was completely unaware of this research. The investigation of a burial site on a small (and fictitious) island in the Orkneys uncovers the burial of a Viking and a Celt, a male and female and presumably a married couple. DNA analysis of the two people found in the tomb confirms a hypothesis by the lead character in the novel. The novel also includes a novella as an epilogue that tells the story of this couple, and it tracks fairly closely with what the research team learned about Vikings and their DNA.
I did a lot of reading – a lot of reading – about Vikings, their invasions of the British Isles, their homelands, their burial customs, their lifestyles, and the names of people that were common. I checked to see if it was possible to do DNA analyses of skeletons or human remains more than a thousand years old (it is). I studied reports by archaeologists working on Viking sites. I read about Viking marriage rites.
In doing all this research, my goal wasn’t to create an absolutely perfect story, but to create a plausible one.
What I didn’t expect was to anticipate (by two-and-a-half months) a study on Vikings’ DNA that, even if unintentionally, gives my fictional story more credence.
Top photograph by Steinar Engeland via Unsplash. Used with permission.