Nora and the Shadow of Prostitution

When Nora Helmer – the heroine of Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House – walks out on her difficult husband, most modern audiences respond with applause. The moment feels like a leap of liberation, the first step toward a better life. But it turns out that the audiences of Ibsen’s day would have responded quite differently. As  I was working on Searching for Nora, my sequel to A Doll’s House, I did months of research on Norway in the 1880’s so that I could keep the book rooted in Ibsen’s world. And what a different world it was, particularly for… 


A Silver Medal for Searching for Nora

The hardest thing about writing a book is marketing it, particularly in this day and age. Compared to the quiet and intense focus of the writing process, marketing takes chutzpah, salesmanship and an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s about cold-calling prospective groups, arranging appearances, and handing out chocolates (and smiles) at Barnes and Noble in hopes that a few people might stop for a look. Not easy in the best of circumstances. But marketing a book during a pandemic? Please. Some people say the shut-down has given them more time to read, yet others report feeling too distracted to relax with a… 


Writing Historical Fiction: Challenges and Surprises

Last Sunday I was supposed to be giving a talk at the Kensington, Maryland, Day of the Book Festival. As a featured author, I planned to talk about the challenges and surprises of writing historical fiction. Then came the coronavirus, and it was all cancelled. But if I can’t stand on a stage, I can still share my ideas about researching and crafting a story set in a different time. For me, the greatest joy of writing historical fiction is that it lets you avoid writing, for days and weeks at a time. Any excuse to research another question –… 


Solvi’s Story and the Spanish Flu

I hate to admit it now, but I’ve always had a morbid interest in the 1918-1919 Spanish flu epidemic. World War I and its aftermath has also been of deep interest to me for a long time, so there was something about the world-wide sweep of the Spanish flu, and the horrific conditions of trench warfare that amplified its spread, that made it particularly fascinating. So I put the Spanish flu into my novel Searching for Nora. It shows up at the beginning of the secondary story line, when Solvi Lange, a young woman with a camera, takes a shot… 


Why A Doll’s House is Still Relevant Today

Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House may be 140 years old but this story of a failed marriage still commands our attention. According to the Center for Ibsen Studies in Oslo, it’s the second most-produced play in the world after Hamlet. A recent sequel play, Doll’s House Part Two, is now playing in regional theaters across the country, many of which are also staging revivals of Ibsen’s play, and several adaptations of A Doll’s House are currently in theaters around the world. What explains the power of this story? I’ve spent the last decade writing my own sequel to A… 



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