On my first visit to Iceland, I immediately felt at home. My DNA seemed to belong there. The pure and wild landscapes, ice blue glaciers, black sand beaches, geothermal waters, rolling green pastures, colorful seaside towns, waterfalls, geysers, volcanos . . .all of it captured my heart. Perhaps even more so, I enjoyed getting to know the people and now have treasured friendships with many of them. Icelanders love a good time, have a great sense of humor and are some of the most creative and intelligent people I’ve ever met. And when there’s talk of a party, you know good times are ahead.
I’ve been back to Iceland many times since that first visit, in part to research my novel Double Blind. But truth be told, even if the story had not been set in Iceland, I’d have been back just as many times. Some of the best adventures have been with my family. When we were all together this weekend, my daughter Olivia surprised me with some illustrations she’d drawn up. You can check out her work on Instagram @oliviawinokur
Munkathverá (or Munkaþverá with Icelandic’s þ, the runic letter thorn) is a church adjacent to a farm (also named Munkathverá) in North Iceland that plays a key role in the novel. The word translates to Monk’s River as the church sits on the site of a medieval monastery. The farmstead once belonged to one of the original settlers in Iceland.
Many of Iceland’s lighthouses are painted a bright orange. Why? To contrast with the often-snowy landscapes. Iceland was settled in the 10th century by sea-faring peoples and has, until recently, relied primarily on fishing for its livelihood. No one knows better than Icelanders how important the sea is. Films such as The Deep (Djúpið) and The Sea (Hafið) capture this bond between man and sea.