Tonight Erica Pike will be discussing male romance in literature at The National Queer Organisation, Samtökin ’78. Pike is very familiar with the subject because she has written three romance novels and numerous short stories about gay men since 2012. Books that have been published in the United States by one of the three leading publishing houses in the field, MLR Press (ManLoveRomance Press), with the combined sale of several thousand copies that have earned her a spot more than once on the best seller lists of both Amazon and All Romance Ebooks (the largest Amercian e-book site specializing in romance).

Erica Pike is actually the pseudonym of Sigríður Jóhanna Valdimarsdóttir, an Icelandic author with great interest in gay romance novels.

Erica Pike, or rather Sigríður Jóhanna Valdimarsdóttir, has written numerous romances about gay men and says it's a lot of fun. Her stories fall into a category called "New Adult",New Adult is the crossover genre between young adult fiction and chick lit, featuring characters in their late teens to early twenties experiencing first love, college life and moving away from home.
“I just sent the publisher two manuscripts and he showed interest in publishing one. But on the condition that I’d make some changes, which I did, and that’s how I got my first story published”, says Erica Pike, or rather Sigríður Jóhanna Valdimarsdóttir, on how she started her career as an author of gay romance novels. Sigríður’s stories fall into a category called “New Adult”, which is a crossover genre between young adult fiction and adult fiction, featuring characters in their late teens to early twenties experiencing first love, college life and moving away from home. Her books touch upon themes such as homophobia, bullying and domestic violence but are never short of humor.

“The market for romance novels has always been huge in the US but during the last ten years or so, romance novels about gay men have become increasingly popular. Iceland hasn’t picked up on this trend yet, but now I think it’s time to introduce it to my fellow countrymen,” Sigríður starts by telling me.

“The funny thing is that the majority of the readers are straight women, simply because they are the most active readers of romance novels. They often refer to hetero romance novels as a cliché but when reading the romances about gay men there is a different dynamic between the characters,” explains Sigríður.

“In these novels, the two men in the relationship tend to stand on a more equal footing than men and women in hetero romances and that’s something American women like to read. Aside from the female readers, there are also many male readers and their numbers are growing from year to year.”

Vampires and werewolves

Although romance novels about gay men have become increasingly popular abroad, they haven’t yet gotten the attention of Icelandic book publishers, retailers and libraries. “These books are so interesting and fun to read. They aren’t just contemporary romance novels but also novels about vampires and werewolves, science fiction and mystery.

We have cowboys, BDSM, rock stars, motorcyclists, historicals, steampunk, and horror. We even have viking romances, a couple of which take place in Iceland.

There are so many genres to choose from, so there’s no excuse for not picking one up to try, especially since almost all authors have a free story or two on their websites,” says Sigríður.

Identifies as pansexual

Ever since she was young Sigríður says that she’s has always read a great deal of books in English and one day she happened to come across a gay romance science fiction. That’s how the passion for the books started. “I realized this was something for me. I found the stories fascinating and writing gay male characters is a lot of fun. I’m happy to have found my niche.”

Asked if it’s not a bit tricky writing about romances between gay men when you’re a straight woman, Sigríður hesitates for the first time in the interview and then tells me that actually, she identifies as pansexual. It’s the first time she has discussed her sexual orientation publicly.

“It has taken me four years figuring that out,” she admits. When I started writing I thought I was straight but these novels have helped me figure out who I am. Coming out late and finding myself, reflects a little bit in some of my books. So when I’m writing I often write about coming out.”

She doesn’t know of anyone else in Iceland writing gay romance novels for the international market. Most of the authors she is familiar with are American, but she also knows a couple of authors in Finland, one in Norway, one in Sweden, a few in Germany and many in England.


Sigríður’s, .a.k.a. Erica’s books are available in all the Amazon stores and at all the biggest online bookstores, such as Barnes&Noble, All Romance eBooks, Kobo and iTunes. Her short stories are sold on Smashwords.

So far Sigríður has solely written books in English, but does she intend to write in her native tongue in the near future. She shakes her head. “My flow is much better in English. I am currently writing a series of short stories that take place in Iceland but I doubt they will be in Icelandic,” Sigríður says and adds that her next novel however – which tells the story of two teenage boys trying to survive a zombie apocalypse – will be a step into a new direction as it falls into the category of Young Adult fiction and will be published under the pseudonym Erica Archer. “I’ve always been fascinated by apocalypse stories and it’s been great fun writing it.”

Stressful in Iceland

Sigríður has four times attended the American book conference Gay Romance Literature Retreat, where she has discussed her books and done Q and A’s. The event on Thursday night will be her first one in Iceland and she admits she finds it a bit stressful thinking about it. 

“Usually I’ve spoken with people who are active readers of these kind of books but now I’m speaking with people who have perhaps never read them. I don’t know why I am so stressful. Maybe because this is my native country and the tradition for love stories isn’t as great here as it is abroad. People here are more fond of thrillers. Or maybe it’s because I’m a writer and not really a specialised speaker.  I’m just not a person that loves the limelight. However, I am willing to do it for the sake of literature, I really want to introduce these books to my audience tonight.”

The event at The National Queer Organisation. Samtökin ’78, Suðurgata 3 in Reykjavík, takes place tonight, Thursday, November 19, between 20 and 23PM. You can find more about the event on Facebook.

On the left: Inherit The Sky by Ariel Tachna is one of the books Sigríður will be discussing tonight. She says that a lot of the authors support LGBTQAI rights, for example by raising money for various queer causes.

Some publishing houses make special trailers to advertise their books.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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          Ísey skyr
          - once tasted never forgotten

          Our Story
          Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

          For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

          Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
          This is our secret and you are in on it

          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

          Núðluskálin
          - noodle bar

          Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

          All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
          We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
          Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

          Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

          Seatours
          - adventure cruise

          Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
          and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

          The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

          600x400-seatours-tasting

          This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

          600x400-seatours

          The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

          Birds, possible to spot:
          -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
          -eider ducks
          -shags
          -kittiwakes
          -fulmars
          -white-tailed eagle

          The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
          Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

          Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

          Contact Us


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          Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.