Posts with the category ‘Author’s Desk’


Essay Questions

Henrik Ibsen, Doll's House, Norwegian Americans

I had the privilege recently of talking with a group of British high school students who were studying Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House. Their teacher, a wonderfully literate young man, invited me to speak because he thought my book Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House could help his students better understand the historical and literary context of Ibsen’s play, something they would need to write about during their upcoming A-level exams. As an English-teacher-wannabe, I loved this idea. The teacher sent me a list of essay questions and suggested I pick several to discuss. I wasn’t sure I… 


The Weight of Creative Work

Whenever I give a book talk about my novel Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House, eventually every group gets to the important question: Are you working on your next book? If so, when will it be out? Some people ask if I’m writing a sequel to Searching for Nora, and – if so – can I share some tantalizing hints about what happens to Solvi and Rikka and Ivar and Bobby? Surely they find each other in America, they say, looking at me hopefully, as if this suggestion might prime my creative pumps. Others ask if I’m working on… 


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 –… 


Why There Are No Dogs in Searching for Nora

That’s my dearly departed dog, Rex: a sweet, loyal collie mix who always knew when to cheer me up. Nearly everyone loves dogs, and many people enjoy reading about them and their deep-felt relationships with their owners. Given that, why didn’t I put a dog in my novel Searching for Nora?  It would have been a surefire way of warming up the narrative. A dog could have humanized the humans, led to interesting plot opportunities, and provided Nora with a friend when she desperately needed one. Ah, and therein lies the rub. I had a photography teacher once who banned… 


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