A Conversation with Tilman Roehrig, author of Erik the Red

German author Tilman Roehrig has been a writer for over four decades. His novels have been translated into over nine languages. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Great Culture Prize of the Rhine region. His books are praised for their meticulous research and lively blend of facts and fiction. Arctis Books USA published Erik The Red in Spring 2021.


Tying together each episode are fascinating details of everyday Viking life and culture, including sexual mores, the treatment of slaves, and the legal and social status of women (although it unfortunately does not include an author’s note or references). A mysterious death and a fantastical curse add light intrigue while mature sexual situations make this a great crossover novel for adult readers. - Kirkus Reviews


Arctis Books - Your book describes historical and cultural events in wonderful detail.   Can you tell us something about your research work for your book Erik The Red?


Tilman - The research took a good year. First, I looked for literature about the Vikings. Horror stories of bloodthirsty raids were easy to find, but I didn't trust them. I wanted to know the life, the thinking and the beliefs, in short I wanted to know everything from and about the Vikings. Soon I came across the Thule collection. A true, almost inexhaustible treasure of Icelandic sagas. That's how I got to know Erik Rauda (Erik the Red) and the more I read I became part of his wild, harsh destiny.

I wanted, needed to travel to find answers. Off to the north. First to Denmark, Sweden and Norway. I saw excavated ships, tools, jewelry, children's toys, and of course clothing and weapons. The journey continued to Iceland. There I lived and worked for a few weeks, visited the sites, climbed the Snaefelsjokull - a truly eerie mountain. Already Jules Verne saw there the entrance to the center of the earth.

All this knowledge was still not enough for me. What made the Viking ships so seaworthy? How were they built, what sails did they have? How were they steered?

No sooner did I have an answer than new questions were born: What was the daily routine like? How did the men survive the terrible storms at sea? How did they fight? Honor and blood vengeance? What did the good and also the evil sorceresses do? Rain of blood? Deformed children?

Only when I could see with the eyes of Erik, Tyrkir and Tjodhild, feel with their hearts, I sat down at the desk. Then, after another year, I was able to finish the novel.


Arctis Books - You have written a number of historical novels. Which era do you like best and why?


Tilman - I can't answer the question about a favorite era like that. I write about crossroads, about turning points in our history, that is, about eras, events and personalities that changed our lives. I started with Hannibal and then a large arc spans from my novels to the 20th century. Whether Erik the Red, or Robin Hood, whether Luther or Engels and Marx, they and still others belong as my shimmering colors.


Arctis Books - Are there misconceptions or stereotypes about Vikings that bother you? Please explain.


Tilman - If you think that the Vikings were bloodthirsty beasts who only drank, murdered and whored, you are very much mistaken. I met them, lived with them for a novel. I can't excuse them for the brutality of their raids, but they were women and men who fought for survival, who followed strict laws, who believed - and: they were clean, bathed once a week. Body care was also important to them, so they oiled their skin with cod liver oil after the bath.

Well, that is a matter of smell.


Thank you for chatting with us, Tilman!

-Arctis Books USA 


  • Tilman Roehrig
  • Erik the Red