Sandra Hill On The Heat (And History) Of Honey

Sandra Hill stops by to discuss the way that honey plays a part in her latest novel, The Viking Takes A Knight. The author chats about the two very different ways her characters use honey and shares some facts about the history of honey use throughout the years. And don't miss the steamy EXCERPT of The Viking Takes A Knight at the end of this blog post.

Although I have used medieval beekeeping in previous historicals, along with the use of honey for sweetening, mead, and candles, even as a little something extra in lovemaking, I have never gone as far as I do in my September release, The Viking Takes A Knight.

John of Hawks Lair is the son of a famous medieval beekeeper (The Tarnished Lady) and therefore well-acquainted with beekeeping. Now that he's all grown up, when he's not off doing his knightly service to his Saxon king, he does research on the medicinal properties of honey. But John, who has good reason to never want children, goes farther than that...he's investigating ways that honey could be used as a method of birth control. The results are humor and sizzle. I mean, really, you know how honey crystallizes and hardens? Why not try forming a penile cap of honey then? At least that's what John tries with his willing victims...uh, patients.

Ingrith, a Viking princess with a passion for cooking, invades John's keep with a horde of orphans, upsetting his precious solitude. In fact, she filches some of his honey for her famous honey cakes. Wait 'til she finds out what he wants to use the honey for!

Many people are not aware that the products of wild bees have been used by people back as far as the Bronze Age. (And, as an aside, doesn't that make you wonder. There is a joke floating about the Internet asking, "Who was the first guy who looked at a cow's udders and said, 'I wonder what would happen if I pulled on those hanging things." Likewise, there had to be the first clueless guy who said, "I wonder what would happen if I stick my hand inside that hive and eat that waxy thing.") We know for certain from cave and wall drawings that men were domesticating wild bees by 2422 BC.

There are hundreds and hundreds of varieties of honey with colors ranging from nearly colorless to dark brown. It all depends on the nectar source (type of flowers) and geographical local, not to mention climate and many other variables.

As far as medical properties, men have been using it for eons to heal wound, cure coughs, aid in digestion, and reduce scarring and inflammation from rashes. Its healing uses are almost endless.

So where's the humor in bees? Aside from John's hilarious experiments, I mean. Well, just the stinging alone, especially in unmentionable places, can be funny. Then there is the way bees communicate with what is called a wag-tail dance. Yep, they shake their booties to give a certain message. Then there's the way the female queen mates with the drones, who immediately die. I draw some of these characteristics into my story, of course, both the actual stinging and the metaphors, always with an eye toward humor and sizzle.

For more information on this and my other books, including my October title, Dark Viking, check out my website at www.sandrahill.net. As always, I wish you smiles in your reading.

-Sandra Hill

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