Nanaimo author Afiena Kamminga presents her latest book, ‘Unamakik, Land of Fog.’ (Photo courtesy Hans Larsen)

Nanaimo author Afiena Kamminga presents her latest book, ‘Unamakik, Land of Fog.’ (Photo courtesy Hans Larsen)

Nanaimo author tells story of Viking stranded in the Maritimes in new book

Afiena Kamminga imagines 10th-century Cape Breton Island in ‘Unamakik, Land of Fog’

A Nanaimo author takes cues from the Icelandic sagas and draws from her own immigrant experience in her latest novel about a Viking woman stranded in 10th-century Atlantic Canada.

On Nov. 22 Afiena Kamminga released Unamakik, Land of Fog. It is the sequel to her 2014 book, The Sun Road, and follows Icelander Thora Thorvinnsdottir in the aftermath of an ill-fated expedition to North America in which she is left behind on the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after her ship is wrecked and its crew – including her husband – is chased back to sea by the locals.

Thorvinnsdottir eventually finds herself on Cape Breton Island, where she gets married and attempts to integrate into the indigenous population, whom Kamminga describes as the ancestors of modern Miꞌkmaq. Viking settlers soon arrive and Thorvinnsdottir finds herself torn between both communities.

Kamminga said she wanted to bring her heroine to the Maritimes because it’s a journey she was familiar with as a Dutch immigrant to New Brunswick.

“Having gone there myself coming from Europe and being fairly familiar also with Iceland and Greenland, it sort of struck me that if these people had gone there that long ago in the medieval times, how would that have hit them?” she said.

Kamminga said she started writing Thorvinnsdottir’s story more then 20 years ago when she still lived on the East Coast. She travelled across the region, journeyed to Iceland and read the sagas in preparation for the book, but she regrets that she didn’t speak with Miꞌkmaq elders to learn more about their history while she still lived in New Brunswick.

“I would have loved to do that and I’ve tried to by e-mail and I’ve tried to make contact but that’s not how it works. You’ve really got to live there and you’ve got to go there and talk to people so I feel that it’s really a gap,” she said.

Although Vikings knew of the existence of North America, Kamminga said there is very little written about the continent in the Icelandic sagas. She therefore felt free to expand upon that history and imagine what visiting the Maritimes was like for those travellers who never made it into the sagas.

“I just tried to place myself in that time and get the full load of the wonder about this new, unexplored world, because when we come as immigrants, you know too much about it. You know more or less where you’re going,” she said. “But this is totally different.”

Unamakik, Land of Fog is available here.

RELATED: War years put into words: Authors recount true and fictional stories from the Second World War

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Dallas Road

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Egg producers in B.C. aren’t obligated to reveal their production sites. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Officials say there’s not enough Vancouver Island eggs to meet demand

BC Egg Marketing Board doesn’t regulate labelling, supply needed from off-Island

A Courtenay resident labours to remove the snow build-up from around her car in February 2019. The area may see snow throughout the coming weekend. Black Press file photo
Snow, winter might not be done with Vancouver Island quite yet

Flurries, snow and cold temps predicted for the weekend for mid-Island

New population estimates peg the population of Greater Victoria at 408,883 as of July 1, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Population estimates peg Greater Victoria’s population at 408,883

New estimates show regional population grew by 1.35 per cent

The Salvation Army’s 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign includes a new $5 tap feature for pandemic-friendly donations. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
EDITORIAL: Alberni Valley steps up in time of need

There are a lot of ways the outside world interprets Port Alberni…

B.C. Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth (Black Press files)
B.C. watchdog says mentally ill children and youth retraumatized in hospital

The number of children held under the Mental Health Act has increased an alarming 162 per cent in past decade

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a threat was made at Woodgrove Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (News Bulletin file photo)
Threat directed at Nanaimo mall, RCMP investigating

Police have searched areas of Woodgrove Centre accessible to shoppers and have deemed it safe

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Firefighters respond to a fire on Heatherly Road in Colwood Jan. 19. (Photo courtesy of View Royal Fire Rescue)
Two people escape injury in Colwood house fire

Heatherly Road fire started on a covered porch

In January, six flights with cases of COVID-19 onboard have landed at the Victoria International Airport so far. (Black Press Media file photo)
Two new COVID-19 exposures reported on flights to Victoria

A Jan. 10 flight from Toronto and Jan. 11 flight from Calgary were affected

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

(News Bulletin file photo)
Car crashes along the Nanaimo Parkway, driver abandons vehicle

Mazda with ‘extensive damage’ found in the ditch in the early-morning hours Jan. 19

Most Read