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Guest blogger: Tanya Nellestein

28 November 2021

November has been a month of discoveries and manifestations of new realities. It was supposed to be the month I wrote the final book in the Valkyrie of Birca series as well, but one can’t have everything!

First discovery—which is actually not new to me, if I’m being honest. November is NaNoWriMo, where one undertakes to write many words in the space of a month. A worthy challenge. Unless, of course, I need to write many words in one month, and then I dig my toes in and completely refuse to write anything. I’ve always been a rebel and doing the complete opposite of what most other writers are doing is exactly what I’ve come to expect of myself.

Speaking of being a rebel, despite the obvious reasons I write about Vikings (refer to previous blogs on this topic), I have wondered how I became an author of Viking adventures when everything I’d written before was contemporary? Cathleen Ross challenged me to explore this through my ancestry. Turns out, I’m 66% Viking.

The report kindly explained that I couldn’t be 100% Viking because that would also make me a time traveller.

The Scandinavian Vikings are my closest match, which makes sense as The Valkyrie of Birca series is set in Sweden. The Vikings of Sweden expanded across the vast landscape of Finland and Russia, taking their longships overland when needed, and navigating the great rivers until they reached the Black Sea. This is even more proof—my name is Russian. I’m named after the main character in Dr Zhivago and, according to some (don’t ask me who), the name you are given in this life is an indicator of the culture you were born into in the last life.

Side note: I think there is a real future for me in tracing ancestry and through lines, if this authoring gig doesn’t work out.

You may be asking, how do I know all this? It started with spitting into a little cylinder and sending it to Ireland for analysis. A couple of months later, I received a report that gave a breakdown of my ancestry based on my DNA. The results gave me an ethnicity estimate that included England, North Western Europe, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark and Germanic Europe. All countries with clear links to the Vikings!

But I needed proof. So, I sent my DNA results to another company that does something scientific with them and confirmed that I am indeed a Viking! The next step is to do some fancy tracing business to determine which famous Vikings are in my family tree! I think I will need to pick the brain of Cathleen for guidance on this (she is the descendant of some pretty radical folks!)

Meanwhile, I wanted to honour other parts of my heritage as well. Undoubtedly, you would have noticed Scotland amongst my ethnic origins. There is an historic Scottish land ownership custom where landowners have been long referred to as ‘Lairds’, the Scottish term for ‘Lord’, with the female equivalent being ‘Lady’. Established Titles offers a Lordship or Ladyship title pack, which contributes to the preservation and protection of woodland areas in Scotland.

Long story short, you may now address me as Lady Tanya Nellestein. I believe they have even planted a tree in my honour.

To recap:

  • I’ve written nothing this month
  • I’ve discovered I am descended from the Vikings
  • I’ve joined the ranks of the landed gentry of Scotland

All in all, not a bad month! But now I REALLY must return to the keyboard and bring the final chapter of Queen Brenna’s story to a close. If you want to pile the pressure on, buy all three of the Valkyrie of Birca series (available on Amazon) and demand I finish the fourth posthaste! That’ll teach me.

You can find Tanya here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



One Comment
  1. 28 November 2021 2:34 pm

    You actually have to pay one of the ancestry sites, log in and see how far you can get back. I already know the names: Scottish, Irish and Welsh that will signal your noble heritage. It’s clear you have Norse heritage but some really fun stuff can also be discovered. Did you know there is also a Viking finger? My cousin has it.

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